Top seed Gaultier outnumbered by Egyptians in El Gouna semi-finals
Egypt’s four-time world champion Amr Shabana survived a testing encounter against an in-form Omar Mosaad to book his place in the semi-final of the 2014 El Gouna International Squash Open today.
Shabana faces a dream semi-final against the young man who has not only followed in his illustrious footsteps but has also elevated Egyptian squash to new levels of creative genius. That man, of course, is Ramy Ashour, who advanced into the last four with minimal exertion as his opponent, former world No.1 Karim Darwish, limped off with an injury.
Shabana was forced to use all of his guile and court-craft to get past the imposing figure of Mosaad, who came into the match spirited after beating World No.5 Borja Golan in the second round in one of his most impressive wins in recent times.
But Shabana, who has been an ever-present figure in the world top ten for more than a decade, combined his experience and cunning with his dazzling array of shots to ensure his place in the final four.
“It took everything I had to beat Omar today,” said Shabana. “Considering it’s my third match on the glass court and his first I didn’t expect him to have such good timing and he made it really uncomfortable for me out there.
“I had to go back to basics and play a basic length game and it took everything I had to go through.
“I’ve seen him transform from a junior to a top player and he works a lot on his movement and he’s very technical. He’s very subtle in the way he plays for a big guy and if you’re not careful he can make you look average.
“I think he has a wonderful future but today I won, so I’m happy.
“I’ve put in a lot of hard to work to reach the semi-final and thankfully it’s paying off. We all put in a lot of hard work but it doesn’t mean you are going to win so it’s nice to get the rewards.”
Shabana will take on defending El Gouna champion Ramy Ashour in the semi-finals, after the maverick Egyptian progressed to the semi-finals after opponent Karim Darwish was forced to retire through injury.
The second semi-final will see a third Egyptian contest a spot in the final as World No.3 Mohamed Elshorbagy will look to take out the PSA world No.1 and top seed Gregory Gaultier, after the Frenchman got past a tricky encounter with England’s Daryl Selby 3-0.
“I was not feeling as accurate as I was yesterday but maybe that was because Daryl was hanging in there and giving me a tough time even if the score doesn’t reflect the match,” said Gaultier.
“He was ahead in the third game and I had to come back to win. I didn’t manage to put the same pressure on him and I think he relaxed and started to go for the shots and he was getting them and making it tough.
“It wasn’t beautiful squash but I fight for every point even if I can’t play my best so long as you win it doesn’t matter.
“I still feel good physically, it was hot today and you always have to adapt to the conditions but you have to deal with these things or else you book a flight and go home.”
2014 El Gouna International – Quarter-final Results:
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-2, 12-10 (45m)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt  Peter Barker (ENG) 3-1: 11-8, 11-6, 3-11, 11-3 (55m)
 Amr Shabana (EGY) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-1: 12-10, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8 (64m)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt  Karim Darwish (EGY) 11-7, 4-0 (retired) (16m)
2014 El Gouna International – Semi-final Draw:
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v  Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY)
 Amr Shabana (EGY) v  Ramy Ashour (EGY)
Picture by Steve Cubbins for the tournament website