Saturday, June 22, 2024

El Gouna 2023: El Hammamy and Gohar set for more rivalry stakes

Reigning El Gouna International champion Hania El Hammamy will reignite her rivalry with Nouran Gohar, with the two Egyptians set to face off in the semi-finals of this year’s event at the El Gouna Conference and Culture Center.

El Hammamy downed Welsh No.1 Tesni Evans in straight games, and the defending champion was in control throughout the contest, on court for just 33 minutes.

Evans started strongly, trying to back up after beating Nour El Tayeb in the third round. El Hammamy had just enough for the first, winning it 11-8. She was then able to continue that form into both the second and third games, dropping just nine points across the two to book her place in the semis.

“Always great to be able to be ready for the semi-finals in a very short period of time during the tournament. Sometimes, I play a lot of matches, 3-2s, I go to five and play longer than my opponents, so this time, I am happy I am matching them in the duration of the matches,” El Hammamy explained.

“It is amazing playing in Egypt. It is great for having the juniors to come and root for us Egyptians. It definitely gives us a huge motivation and a huge boost on court.”

Gohar awaits her in the semi-finals on Thursday evening, who overpowered England’s Georgina Kennedy 3-0.

The tournament’s top seed, who could return to the top of the Women’s World Rankings if she wins the El Gouna International and Nour El Sherbini fails to reach the final, clinched a close opening game before the former World No.1 ruthlessly put the English No.1 to the sword.

“Firstly, I want to say how much respect I have for Gina [Kennedy]. She is such an unbelievable athlete,” Gohar said.

“It is special because we grew up playing the British Junior Open together, it is a pleasure seeing how she has improved. It is always a clean match against her, and I have so much respect for her. It was great to be competing against her today.”

In the men’s draw, World No.1 Diego Elias secured his first appearance in the semi-finals of the El Gouna International after beating Iker Pajares Bernabeu in straight games.

The Peruvian is aiming to stay at the top of the world rankings following the last Platinum event of the season, with his opponent in the last four, Ali Farag, also vying for a return to the summit.

Elias came through the heat and humidity in a tough 20-minute opener before the 26-year-old comfortably took the second and third games 11-2.

“It is a quarter-final so there are always nerves. I am just happy I won that first game, I think it was very important. It is tough conditions so it is hard to get used to it, and it is even harder to practice in the morning. It is so hot, coming in straight into the matches, but I am happy I won the first game and then the rest of the match,” Elias said.

“I just came into my game the way I play. With these conditions, it was really hard. The ball was bouncing a lot, so I changed my game a little bit. I hit a lot of lobs, there was no point in hitting the ball hard because it was coming all the way back to the ’T’. Happy with the way I changed my gameplan, and I am happy to be in the semi-finals.”

Four-time world champion Farag battled back brilliantly to overcome France’s Victor Crouin to book his place in the semi-finals.

French No.1 Crouin was in fine form in the opening stages, with his natural attacking game being too good for Farag. However, the Egyptian has gone behind in almost every match since winning the World Championship final in straight games.

The comeback seemed almost invetiable, but the former World No.1 was almost perfect throughout the next three games. He dropped just seven points across the next three games, putting Crouin under too much pressure, with the Frenchman hitting too many errors throughout the latter stages.

“I am feeling very good and I think today was the best performance of the tournament so far. It does make a difference, I keep saying coaching doesn’t make a difference but having Karim [Darwish] in my corner really does make a difference.” Farag said.

“He came today from Cairo, he is driving back because he has another commitment at 8:30 in the morning, so he is driving overnight, and then he is coming back again for my semi-final. It does make a difference, but now that he has done it, it was huge.”

Men’s Quarter-Final Results – Top Half: El Gouna International 2023

[1] Diego Elias (PER) bt Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) 3-0: 11-9, 11-2, 11-2 (39m)

[4] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [8] Victor Crouin (FRA) 3-1: 6-11, 11-2, 11-3, 11-2 (42m)

Women’s Quarter-Final Results – Top Half: El Gouna International 2023

[1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [8] Georgina Kennedy (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-2, 11-5 (37m)

[3] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Tesni Evans (WAL) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-4 (33m)

Men’s Quarter-Final Draw – Bottom Half: (To be played 31 May) 

[3] Mostafa Asal (EGY) v Mazen Hesham (EGY)

[5] Paul Coll (NZL) v [2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG)

Women’s Quarter-Final Draw – Bottom Half: (To be played 31 May) 

Salma Hany (EGY) v Nele Gilis (BEL)

Tinne Gilis (BEL) v [2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY)

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