Home heroes dominate World Champs quarter-finals
By SEAN REUTHE in Cairo
Egypt has become the first nation in the 40-year history of the PSA Men’s World Championship to have six players in the quarter-final stage after Ramy Ashour, Fares Dessouky and Tarek Momen all won to bring the third round action to a close at the Wadi Degla Club in Cairo.
Coming just a day after the Egyptian trio of Mohamed ElShorbagy, Karim Abdel Gawad and Ali Farag booked their quarter-final berths, Ashour led the charge as he dispatched England’s Daryl Selby by an 11-6, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6 margin.
“I think after the first game I wanted to win and that was a mistake,” said Ashour. “I should just stick to playing. I got excited and then got hard on myself. Then the second game went well, but he started pushing me into all four corners and I wasn’t really playing like I was in the first game.
“He really pushed me, he really tested my movement big time. It was really deep in all four corners and he was smacking nicks and cross courts. He just really made me work today and I’m glad because I need to work harder and harder, if I’m going to win at some point then I have to earn it.”
Dessouky, meanwhile, came through a gladiatorial five-game battle with Malaysia’s Nafiizwan Adnan to seal his place in the last eight for the first time in his career.
The match was highly-charged and swayed between moments of free-flowing squash and periods of scrappy play, with a number of decisions being made in an encounter punctuated with lets and strokes.
With the scores tied at two-games apiece, Dessouky – buoyed on by a partizan home crowd – held the nerves at bay to close out a 13-11, 6-11, 11-6, 10-12, 11-6 victory and seal a last eight berth.
“It was hard for me play the fifth game and be focused from the beginning because of the last two decisions of the fourth game,” explained Dessouky, who will meet Ashour in the next round.
“It was a hard match for me. I had to focus in the fifth game, which was good for me to find out how good I am mentally. I kept pushing in the fifth game.
“The crowd was incredible, it reminds me of the El Gouna tournament where they did the same thing to me. They stayed behind me and kept pushing me forward to win the matches and win the semi-finals there. It’s something good for me and it’s incredible.”
Momen was also forced to battle through a five-game encounter after he dispatched World No.7 Marwan ElShorbagy, the younger brother of World No.1 Mohamed.
Momen twice took a one-game lead, only to see a dogged ElShorbagy come back both times to restore parity. It was the latter who would eventually triumph in the decider though, bringing the curtain down on a 78-minute encounter by a 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-3 margin to set up a next round meeting with defending champion Gregory Gaultier.
“I’m actually surprised how I managed to get the big lead in the fifth the way I did,” admitted Momen.
“There are a lot of positives to take out of this match. I’m in the quarter-finals of the World Championship and I’m just trying to enjoy it as much as possible.”
Defending champion Gaultier will join three-time winner Nick Matthew in the next round as the only non-Egyptian competitors after he overcame Hong Kong’s Tsz Fung Yip in straight games.
The Frenchman recovered from a slow start to take an 11-8, 11-2, 11-6 victory to keep his hopes of retaining his title alive.
“I felt a bit flat at the end of the warm-up and then I had to wake up and find the solution quite quick or otherwise I would have lost the first game in five minutes without making him work,” said Gaultier.
“He was sharp in the first few points, he was on to my balls quickly and has really good hands at the front. Suddenly, I managed to play at a faster pace and wake myself up. I won the first and then the confidence came and it was like having another mini man on the court.”
$325,000 Men’s Wadi Degla PSA World Championship 2016, Wadi Degla Club, Cairo, Egypt.
Third Round (Bottom Half):
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 3-2: 13-11, 6-11, 11-6, 10-12, 11-6 (99m)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-1: 11-6, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6 (66m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-3 (78m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-2, 11-6 (31m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v  Nick Matthew (ENG)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) v  Ramy Ashour (EGY)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com)