Night of drama and delays as El Sherbini stops Perry
By SEAN REUTHE – Squash Mad Correspondent
It took World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy 158 minutes and two separate venues to finally get the better of Welshman Joel Makin as he booked his place in the semi-finals on a night of drama at the El Gouna International Squash Open.
ElShorbagy and Makin managed to play the first point of their quarter-final clash at the El Gouna Conference and Culture Center, but a slip from ElShorbagy resulted in over an hour’s delay in proceedings due to slippery court conditions caused by humidity.
The match was then moved to the El Gouna Squash Complex – which hosted matches in the early rounds of the tournament – where top seed ElShorbagy finally pulled through in the fifth game after Makin had fought back from a 2-0 deficit to avenge his defeat to the Welshman in March’s CIB Black Ball Open.
ElShorbagy finally triumphed 13-11, 11-3, 6-11, 9-11, 11-7 and said: “Me and Joel train so much together in England and we know each other’s games very well.
“Even when I won the second 11-3, I knew he is one of the few people on tour who is going to fight. He’s not going to give it to me easy. Against a lot of people it would have been done with the way I won the second because I dominated him completely.
“At the end of the day you could see the respect we have for each other, we killed each other. We argued with each other throughout the match, we trash talked each other, but afterwards we shook hands. We’re both the kinds of people who say that whatever happens on court and is said on court is done.”
Dessouky silences ‘annoying’ Asal
ElShorbagy will take on the in-form Fares Dessouky after he came back from 2-0 down to beat two-time World Junior Champion Mostafa Asal, reaching his fourth successive semi-final in El Gouna by an 10-12, 8-11, 11-2, 11-4, 11-9 scoreline.
Asal took the opening game in confident style, after which point emergency medical attention was required for video referee Ralf Harenberg, which meant a lengthy delay in proceedings while he was attended to.
Everyone at the PSA wishes Ralf a swift recovery and will stay in contact with him to offer him the support he needs.
Speaking about his comeback, Dessouky said: “I did it before with the World No.1 [Ali Farag], so I am used to these kind of situations. I am happy to be through because he is a very dangerous player.
“Off-court, he is a brother, but on-court, he is a bit annoying, so I am happy to keep my head today and to stay solid until the end.
“I had to make it physical, I had to try and play to the very last point and make the rallies a bit longer and play one more shot on each point. I am lucky that it worked today because I thought I was going to lose in three.”
World No.1 Nour El Sherbini and World No.7 Hania El Hammamy will meet in the women’s semis after wins over England’s Sarah-Jane Perry and France’s Camille Serme.
El Sherbini dominated England’s Perry to win 11-4, 11-6, 11-6 in 31 minutes and she will line up in the El Gouna International semis for the second time.
“It is always tough playing SJ,” said El Sherbini. “You can see our head-to-head [9-4 to El Sherbini], it says it all. We have been playing each other in every tournament this season, so I was trying to stick to my plan and to focus until the very last point.”
Meanwhile, El Hammamy will appear in the El Gouna International semi-finals for the first time after she defeated World No.4 Serme 11-2, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7 in the latest chapter of their enthralling rivalry.
El Hammamy and El Sherbini will go head-to-head for the first time since the 2020 CIB Black Ball Open, where El Hammamy prevailed to lift her maiden PSA Platinum title.
“I wanted to get the first and try to be as sharp as I could from the start because it wasn’t really very good for us with the conditions and waiting outside,” said El Hammamy, whose match with Serme started an hour behind schedule due to the humidity delays.
“I’m so happy to be in the semis for the first time in El Gouna. Since I was a kid, I definitely loved this tournament and I always wanted to be a semi-finalist and finalist, so I’m looking forward to it and hopefully I can make it to the final.”
2021 El Gouna International Squash Open, El Gouna, Egypt.
Men’s Quarter-Finals (Top Half):
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Joel Makin (WAL) 3-2: 13-11, 11-3, 6-11, 9-11, 11-7 (158m)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Mostafa Asal (EGY) 3-2: 10-12, 8-11, 11-2, 11-4, 11-9 (123m)
Men’s Semi-Finals (May 27):
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Fares Dessouky (EGY)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
Women’s Quarter-Finals (Top Half):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-6 (31m)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Camille Serme (FRA) 3-1: 11-2, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7 (59m)
Women’s Semi-Finals (May 27):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA