Sunday, March 26, 2023

Elshorbagy v Matthew and Sobhy v Sherbini in ToC finals

Mohamed Elshorbagy overcomes fighting Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet in New York
Mohamed Elshorbagy overcomes fighting Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet in New York

Matthew makes sixth ToC final as Sobhy marches on


Defending champion Mohamed Elshorbagy moved through to the final of the 2016 Men’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions after a commanding victory over Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet underneath the chandeliers in Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall in New York.

The Egyptian controlled the early portions of the match by forcing Castagnet into the front corners of the court before stepping up to punish the number seven seed on the volley.

After falling 2-0 behind, Castagnet cut the deficit to a single game by drawing out some errors from 25-year-old Elshorbagy but a series of punishing rallies saw the hard-hitting Elshorbagy take control of the match once more in game four and he held off a late attempt at a comeback from the Frenchman to see out an 11-9, 11-6, 3-11, 11-7 triumph.

“He [Castagnet] is a great competitor,” said Elshorbagy. “He’s been making so much progress lately and has made it into the top eight and then played in his first ever World Series final. He is an inspiration to all players on how they should work hard in their career because he has worked so hard. To be able to make it to the semi-final here is such a great achievement and I’m really happy for him.

“We played such a great match together, we always do. I’m really happy for him and I want to congratulate him.”

Last year’s runner up Nick Matthew will meet the World No.1 in the final after a serious injury to his semi-final opponent, World Champion Gregory Gaultier, handed the Englishman the win.

The match began on an even keel with the packed crowd looking forward to some exciting squash between the two players who had battled against each other 33 times previously on the PSA World Tour.

However, with the score level at 3-3, Gaultier rolled his ankle painfully after contact with Matthew and was carried off the court in real distress. Despite receiving treatment, the Frenchman was unable to continue the match to ensure that Matthew will advance to face World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy for the distinction of lifting the prestigious title in a repeat of last year’s final.

“My heart goes out to Greg,” said Matthew. “The match had barely got going. We were feeling each other out on the first few points. I feel bad for everyone who came down to see a great match but that’s nothing to what I’m feeling for Greg because it’s his livelihood.

“I’ve got to take advantage of the fact that my legs will be fresh tomorrow and it will be my sixth Tournament of Champions final. I’m really proud of that record but I have only won one out of those five so far. I need to improve that ratio tomorrow.”

Amanda Sobhy and Nouran Gohar locked in battle in the semi-final
Amanda Sobhy and Nouran Gohar locked in battle in the semi-final

Elsewhere, history maker Amanda Sobhy has moved into her first ever PSA World Series final with a scintillating victory over Egypt’s Nouran Gohar.

Sobhy, who yesterday became the first American-born woman to reach the last four of the prestigious tournament, started on the back foot after a fast start from Gohar saw the 18-year-old rattle off a number of early points. Roared on by a raucous crowd, World No.8 Sobhy battled back and came out on top after a multitude of frenetic rallies saw the United States No.1 seize the win with a 11-9, 11-9, 12-10 margin of victory.

“I’m a little shocked, I don’t really have any words,” a breathless Sobhy said. “It was a battle. Even though it was 3-0 it was so tough from the beginning to the end. I just tried to stay in my bubble and not let the pressure of getting to the finals in front of my home crowd get to me.”

Nour El Sherbini on the attack against Nicol David
Nour El Sherbini on the attack against Nicol David

Nour El Sherbini will go head-to-head with Sobhy in a mouthwatering final fixture after she produced a spellbinding display to down 2014 winner Nicol David.

The 20-year-old came through a brutal five-game encounter with World No.4 Camille Serme in the previous round but no signs of fatigue as she pounced on any loose drops from David to claim an 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 victory.

“It was very special to beat Nicol 3-0 and it was one of the best things that is ever going to happen to me,” said El Sherbini.

“I’m really happy. With Nicol you have to attack any shots you can so I was trying to finish the points off. Nicol seemed like she was struggling with her movement today so I think that it gave me an advantage.”
J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, Vanderbilt Hall, Grand Central Terminal, New York, USA.
Results – Men’s Semi-Finals:
[1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt [7] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-1: 11-9, 11-6, 3-11, 11-7 (49m)
[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 1-0: 3-3 ret. (14m)

Men’s Final:
[1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v [2] Nick Matthew (ENG)

Women’s Semi-Finals:
[10] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [8] Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-9, 12-10 (38m)
[7] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [2] Nicol David (MAS) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 (26m)

Women’s Final:
[10] Amanda Sobhy (USA) v [7] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 

Pictures by STEVE LINE ( courtesy of PSA


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