ElShorbagy brothers to clash in semi-final
By ELLIE MAWSON in Shanghai
Egypt’s World No.15 Hania El Hammamy stunned New Zealand’s World No.6 Joelle King to reach her first PSA World Tour Gold tournament semi-finals at the J.P. Morgan China Squash Open in Shanghai.
The recently-crowned World Junior champion continued to upset the seedings after knocking out Hong Kong’s Annie Au yesterday as she showed her excellent retrieval skills and shot making to take out experienced King by an 11-9, 11-7, 11-9 margin.
The young Egyptian will take on compatriot and World No.1 Raneem El Welily for a place in the final tomorrow.
“I’m really happy with my performance today,” said 19-year-old El Hammamy. “I played really well and it was a tough match. I knew it was going to be and it’s a very physical game between me and Joelle, so I’m glad to get through it.
“The more I get big wins, the more I gain confidence and I go the next match hoping I can win. It feels outrageous [to be in my first Gold semi-final], I’m really happy and I just want to win the semi-final as well. I’m looking forward to possibly playing the final – I don’t see why I can’t do it. “
El Hammamy will face World No.1 Raneem El Welily in the next round after she defeated compatriot Salma Hany to reach the last four stage, with the evening matches being moved to the SECA Academy due to adverse weather conditions affecting the outdoor glass court.
Defending champion El Welily did not let the change of venue affect her though as she powered past Hany in 25 minutes to book her place in the last four.
“I’m definitely happy to come out of today with a 3-0 win,” said El Welily afterwards. “Salma is not an easy player to face at all. She’s very skilful with the racket and she’s proven over the past few years that she is a very strong contender to be top 10 very soon.
“Hania [El Hammamy] is a very strong player and I’m looking forward to playing against her. We train with the same coach – Haitham Effat – so, I’m sure he will be very pleased to have two players in the semis.”
The other women’s semi-final will see World No.4 Nouran Gohar and World No.5 Nour El Tayeb battle it out for a spot in the final.
Gohar survived a comeback from compatriot Yathreb Adel in a feisty encounter to book her place in the semi-finals of the tournament, while El Tayeb made light work of fellow Egyptian Nadine Shahin, taking just 15 minutes to secure her spot.
“It was more my mental performance today,” said Gohar afterwards. “I felt like I was controlling the game well in the first two. But she’s very experienced and we have had tough battles since we were juniors, it’s never easy when you are playing a good friend and you have had a rivalry since juniors.
“It will be tough tomorrow, me and Nour [El Tayeb] always have really tough battles. I think the last one was the World Tour Finals, but we are both tough fighters on court, so I’m sure tomorrow will be another tough battle.”
In the men’s draw, brothers Mohamed and Marwan ElShorbagy will face each other in an exciting tie to see who will take their place in the final.
The 2016 China Squash Open champion, Mohamed, was made to work hard by Hong Kong’s unseeded Leo Au to reach the last four. Meanwhile, Marwan overcame compatriot Omar Mosaad in straight games to advance.
“I felt like I played better than yesterday,” said Mohamed afterwards. “I thought Leo Au played so well today, I think that’s one of the best performances he has played against me.
“I’m pleased with how I kept pushing and that I managed to beat him today and really proud of that performance. Sometimes at the start of the season you want some confidence in your physicality and tough matches like these help to prove that you have trained hard and give you confidence.
“Every summer we always train together, but this summer we didn’t. He [Marwan] actually trained in Egypt, while I was in England, so we haven’t really seen each other at all in a few months. We always have tough battles and mentally, it is hard to deal with for both of us. I watched him a little bit today and he is definitely back stronger.”
“There is no introduction about my brother,” Marwan added after his match. “We are used to playing against each other now, I’ve entered this tournament to play those kind of matches, I want to play those kind of matches against the best of the world.
“I’ve had a good summer, I’ve trained hard and I feel really ready for the new season. I’m very hungry to be back to my best again.”
The other men’s semi-final will see World No.1 Ali Farag pitted against India’s World No.10 Saurav Ghosal.
Farag was pushed all the way to five games by a resilient Tom Richards from England, but the Egyptian was able to ensure he prevailed to move into the semi-finals.
“I felt like he was controlling most of the match. He was playing at his own pace and making all the angles, so full credit to him. I’m extremely proud of myself to get through such a tough match.
“This traditional court is quite different, the straight lines on the backhand side aren’t quite as accurate and I like to play on that side and take advantage of it, but the fact that this wasn’t there meant that I had to find another way and this wasn’t easy against Tom.
“I’m expecting a lot of skilful shots from Saurav, he likes to move opponents deep into the corners and varying the pace. With his height, he is fast and picks up a lot of balls, but I’m glad to hopefully be on the glass.”
Meanwhile, Ghosal displayed an assured performance to defeat talented Egyptian shot-maker Mazen Hesham in four games to reach his second successive semi-final in China.
“He’s so skilful and so talented,” said Ghosal following his win. “He can be so random at times, so it makes it difficult to get into any kind of rhythm when you play against him and it makes it hard to find the groove of your shots and structure your game.
“I think I did most things correctly and executed them correctly, there were patches where I made a few errors and let him back into the game a little bit. Credit to him, he got a lot of balls back which isn’t necessarily his forte and coupled with the fact that he can finish is a lethal combination.”
Action from the semi-finals of the J.P. Morgan China Squash Open takes place at 18:30 local time (GMT+8) tomorrow (Saturday September 7) on the glass court in the evening at the Peninsula Shanghai.
J.P. Morgan China Squash Open, Shanghai, Cina.
Men’s quarter finals:
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Tom Richards (ENG) 3-2: 14-12, 6-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5 (66m)
 Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-1: 12-10, 11-9, 12-14, 11-7 (67m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 13-11, 15-13 (55m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Leo Au (HKG) 3-1: 3-11, 11-8, 15-13, 11-8 (68m)
Women’s quarter finals:
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Salma Hany (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-9, 11-4 (25m)
Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 3-0: 11-9, 11-7, 11-9 (50m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Nadine Shahin (EGY) 3-0: 11-2, 11-1, 11-5 (15m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Yathreb Adel (EGY) 3-2: 11-4, 11-5, 9-11, 9-11, 11-6 (54m)
Men’s semi-finals (September 7):
 Ali Farag (EGY) v  Saurav Ghosal (IND)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Women’s semi-finals (September 7):
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
Report by ELLIE MAWSON (PSA). Edited by ALAN THATCHER.
Pictures courtesy of PSA