Saturday, December 9, 2023

Marwan ElShorbagy downs top seed Diego Elias and meets brother Mohamed in San Francisco final

By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)

Egypt’s World No.9 Marwan ElShorbagy produced a terrific performance to down No.1 seed and world No.4 Diego Elias to reach the final of the Oracle NetSuite Open where he will meet his brother Mohamed for the Silver event title.

ElShorbagy and Elias opened the action on day four at Pier 70 in San Francisco, and, continuing with the best-of-three format, ElShorbagy dominated large passages of play to win 13-11, 7-11, 11-7 in 40 minutes.

ElShorbagy got off to the perfect start, catching Elias off guard to race out to a 7-1 lead. The Peruvian battled back and hit a superb backhand cross-court nick to draw level at 9-9. Two errors followed from the racket of the No.1 seed to hand ElShorbagy a one-game lead.

Despite Elias winning the second game 11-7, ElShorbagy regained his concentration and continued to test the movement of ‘The Puma’ by forcing him into all four corners with intelligent squash.

Elias became distracted by refereeing decisions and errors flowed from the Peruvian as ElShorbagy reached his second final of the season, having finished runner-up to Victor Crouin in Nantes.

ElShorbagy had this to say after his win: “I had a good lead in the first game and Diego came back at me. In the second game I thought that if I could have just got ahead I could have won it.

“But I’m happy with the way I refocused after he came back in the third game and happy that I got the match. He’s a very experienced player and I’m glad to get the win this time.

“Since the beginning of the season, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been hitting the ball pretty well and I’m happy with the way I’ve been moving and I’m backing up matches well.

“I haven’t been getting the results I think I’m worthy of but I’ve been speaking to Rod [Martin] and he assures me that the wins are coming. I just need to stay patient.

“I haven’t played my brother in a long time. As much as I hate playing him I would love to be on court with him once again in the final.”

Mohamed ElShorbagy volleys against Mazen Hesham

His older brother and No.2 seed Mohamed, now representing England, also took exactly 40 minutes to overcame Egypt’s Mazen Hesham 11-8, 8-11, 11-5 to secure a second final appearance of the season.

Mohamed started the match in superb style, pinning the talented Hesham deep in the back corners, giving him no opportunity to showcase his skills. ElShorbagy secured the first game 11-8 then led 6-1 in the second game.

A fall in concentration from ‘The Beast’ allowed Hesham back into the match and he took full advantage to draw level. El Shorbagy stepped back on court for the third game full of purpose and returned to his accurate hitting to control proceedings.

Farida Mohamed triumphs against Joelle King to reach the final

In the women’s draw, Egypt’s Farida Mohamed closed out semi-final day with an impressive win over New Zealand’s Joelle King to reach the biggest final of her career. The World No.18 had beaten King previously and showed her confidence in the opening game, hitting hard to the back corners to set up attacking opportunities.

King showed her class after losing the first game and started to dominate proceedings. The New Zealand No.1 stepped up the court and looked to volley at any opportunity to take the game 12-10 to force a decider.

King built a 5-1 lead, but Mohamed fired off a stream of winners to take the next eight points. She closed out the final game 11-9 and said: “I knew it would be very tough. It felt like a best of five match.

“I’m very happy to be through; it meant a lot to me to win this one. The first game was comfortable but Joelle [King] is very smart and she completely outplayed me in the second game and she came back at me in the third. I started to panic but I’m very glad I could close it out.

“Amanda [Sobhy] has been playing amazing. It’s fun to play against her. I have only played her twice and I’m looking forward to the match. It’s one last push tomorrow and I can’t wait to leave everything on the court.”

Amanda Sobhy volleys against Hollie Naughton

Mohamed’s opponent in the Oracle NetSuite Open final will be defending champion and No.1 seed Amanda Sobhy, who defeated fellow North American Hollie Naughton in straight games to keep her title defence alive.

Sobhy didn’t have it all her own way in the match and was tested by Naughton’s changes of pace and deception on several occasions. However, The USA No.1 used her superior accuracy and shot-making skills to close out both games 11-9 to win in just 22 minutes.

Action from the Oracle NetSuite Open finals will be played on the all-glass court at Pier 70, San Francisco, starting at 18:30 local time today (GMT-7) and will be shown live on SQUASHTV and selected broadcast partners.

Oracle Netsuite Open 2022, Pier 70, San Francisco, USA.

Men’s Semi-Finals:
[4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [1] Diego Elias (PER) 2-1: 13-11, 7-11, 11-7 (40m)
[2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) bt [3] Mazen Hesham (EGY) 2-1: 11-8, 8-11, 11-5 (40m)

Women’s Semi-Finals:
[1] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [4] Hollie Naughton (CAN) 2-0: 11-9, 11-9 (22m)
[3] Farida Mohamed (EGY) bt [2] Joelle King (NZL) 2-1: 11-6, 10-12, 11-9 (35m)

Men’s Final:
[4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v [2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG)

Women’s Final:
[1] Amanda Sobhy (USA) v [3] Farida Mohamed (EGY)

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour


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