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Battle for No.1 as Elshorbagy clashes with Gaultier

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Rosner and Waller mount valiant efforts in US Open showdowns
By Squash Mad Reporter

US14gregsim

World No.1 Gregory Gaultier and World No.2 Mohamed Elshorbagy will go head-to-head in the semi-finals of the 2014 Delaware Investments US Open in a mouthwatering encounter that could have significant ramifications at the top of the PSA World Rankings.

The duo last met in the final of the Hong Kong Squash Open, the first PSA World Series event of the season, when Elshorbagy won 3-2 to claim just his second ever World Series title and victory in Friday’s encounter at Philadelphia’s Drexel University could see him topple the Frenchman at the top of the rankings to become World No.1 for the first time in his career.

The pair are in the midst of a three-way battle with current World Champion Nick Matthew, who takes on Egyptian Fares Dessouki in his quarter-final encounter on Thursday, to occupy the No.1 ranking slot in November but after beating German Simon Rösner 3-1 to move into the semis, Gaultier says his focus is not on the rankings.

usgregros“That was a very tough four games against Simon,” said Gaultier after his win. “He was playing very well, being very aggressive and playing some lovely winners which made it tough.

“He played with no pressure and he was very fluid but I’m happy with my performance to get the win in four and I’m delighted now to be in the semi-finals and I’m looking forward to playing against Elshorbagy.

“Last time we played he won 3-2 and I’m ready to play him again. I’ve had a good three weeks of training and he’s confident so I’m looking forward to a good battle.

“I’ve been number one this year and I’m not looking at the rankings. I’m not here with my calculator and checking every day to see if I’m going to be number one or number two, I’m here to play and my focus is on playing well and trying to win the tournament.”

Elshorbagy booked his place in the semi-finals following a well earned 3-0 victory over England’s Adrian Waller in his quarter-final encounter, meaning he’s made it to the last four without dropping a single game in the competition so far.

“When the top four players get to the semi-finals we all raise our game and I think that’s what’s going to happen against Greg,” said the 23-year-old from Alexandria.

“I know I’ve beaten him the last two times, but he’s beaten me nine times before that. He’s the World No.1 and such a strong player and if I play my best there’s still a chance I can loose so I have to hope I get it right on the day.

“Every player wants to be No.1 and I think the pressure is on Greg to defend his ranking. Players say they just come to play and enjoy themselves but I’m sure they’d enjoy it a lot more if they are the No.1 at the end of the tournament.

“I’m No.2 now and people say that’s great but No.2 has always been my worst enemy. You feel you are so close I think you’d rather be 100 than number two so I’m going to do everything I can this week to get that top ranking.” 

us14mowallerElshorbagy will have the opportunity to stake his claim for world No. 1 in his first U.S. Open semi-final appearance after a difficult three-game victory over Adrian Waller.

Elshorbagy, 23-years old, and Waller, 24, produced the highest-scoring game of the tournament in the opener with the Egyptian fighting off six game balls to come out on top 18-16.

The world No. 2 then fought off an early Waller lead in the second game to win 11-8, with both players displaying an entertaining variety of nicks, drops, and drives.

Waller didn’t capitulate in the third, however, earning an 8-5 lead, which Elshorbagy once again chipped away to close out the match 11-9 in fifty-one minutes.

“He played so well,” Elshorbagy said. “We grew up together playing juniors, in almost every junior tournament. We know each other really well. I knew it was going to be tough. In the World Championship, he took me to five games and almost took me out of that tournament.

“I knew how tough it would be, and I knew what he is capable of. He played way better than his ranking, that’s for sure, and he has shown that many many times. He just hasn’t got that consistency yet, but he will get it for sure one day. I’m just happy I got away in three games, unlike in Manchester. It was very important for me and my confidence.”

The world No. 1 position next month is up for grabs between Elshorbagy, his semi-final opponent Gaultier, and Nick Matthew during the U.S. Open

“Of course Greg is such a great player and great ambassador for our sport. We’ve had such great battles together. We both have a rest day tomorrow, and we’ll both be fresh for the semifinal. I think we’re going to give a really great match for the tournament and for the crowd. I’m really looking forward to another good and fair battle with him as always.”

2014 Delaware Investments US Open, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA.

Quarter-final Results, Top Half:
[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [6] Simon Rösner (GER) 3-1: 11-8, 13-11, 11-13, 11-3 [82m]
[3] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-0: 18-16, 11-8, 11-9

Quarter-finals, Bottom Half Draw [Thursday October 16]:
[4] Amr Shabana (EGY) v [7] Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Fares Dessouki (EGY) v [2] Nick Matthew (ENG)

Semi-final Draw [Friday October 17]:
[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [3] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY)
([4] Amr Shabana (EGY) or [7] Omar Mosaad (EGY)) v (Fares Dessouki (EGY) or [2] Nick Matthew (ENG)

Pictures courtesy of PSA and US Open Squash 

 

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