Marwan ElShorbagy topples Ali Farag as Egyptian quartet make Cairo finals
By SEAN REUTHE – Squash Mad Correspondent
The CIB PSA World Tour Finals will feature all-Egyptian finals for a second time in three seasons after Nour El Tayeb, Hania El Hammamy, Marwan ElShorbagy and Karim Abdel Gawad all came through their semi-final fixtures unscathed at Cairo’s Mall of Arabia earlier tonight.
The World Tour Finals – which was rescheduled from June, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – serves as the season finale of the 2019-20 season and a new name will be engraved on the women’s trophy after El Tayeb and El Hammamy dispatched World Champion Nour El Sherbini and New Zealand’s Joelle King.
El Tayeb scraped through to the semi-finals on the final day of group stage action after France’s Camille Serme failed to get the better of United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy last night. But the World No.4 put together her best squash of the tournament so far as she recovered from a game down to end a run that had seen her win just one of her last nine matches against El Sherbini.
“We hear the commentary before the match,” said El Tayeb afterwards. “And throughout the 10 minutes before the match, I could hear how Nour El Sherbini is the favourite, how she’s unbeatable this tournament, which actually made me relax a bit and I was thinking it might put her under a little bit of pressure.
“I’ve never made it to any final in Egypt before, I never really play well here. And especially after yesterday, I went back to the hotel and ordered junk food because I thought I was out and then I watched Amanda [Sobhy] and she did it. I’m very lucky and I’m grateful.”
Her opponent will be World No.6 El Hammamy, who also recovered from a game down, beating World No.8 King to become the second youngest finalist in World Tour Finals history after compatriot Ramy Ashour.
The level of squash was exceptionally high, and a mammoth first game went the way of King by a 20-18 scoreline after both players traded multiple game balls. El Hammamy regrouped though to take the second and the 20-year-old moved up through the gears in the third to book her spot in the title decider, making it two PSA World Tour finals in her last three tournaments.
El Hammamy fell to El Tayeb last night in their final group match but tomorrow’s final will revert to the traditional best-of-five games scoring.
“Joelle is so tough, especially on the volley, if you give her a volley then she hits a winner, so I didn’t want to do that,” said El Hammamy.
“I played Nour [El Tayeb] yesterday in a tough best of three and tomorrow is best of five. We play at the same club, train together and I really respect her, she is like a big sister and I hope tomorrow will be a good match.”
In the men’s tournament, 2017 World Championship runner-up ElShorbagy has secured a place in the final of the World Tour Finals for the first time in his career after continuing his hoodoo over top seed Ali Farag.
ElShorbagy beat Farag in the Manchester Open quarter-finals just 12 days ago and the 27-year-old completed an 11-9, 7-11, 12-10 victory – recovering from a match ball down in the process – to make it five wins in his last seven games against Farag.
“Ali is the toughest player to beat on the PSA World Tour by far,” said ElShorbagy afterwards.
“Even if I win tomorrow, being realistic I know that my brother [Mohamed] is not here. He’s the current No.1 and the best player in the world, even if I win tomorrow, I know I still have a lot of work to do and he is the player to beat. No matter who wins tomorrow, we [ElShorbagy and Gawad] know we have a lot of work to do.”
ElShorbagy now has an opportunity to win his first major PSA title since the 2018 El Gouna International when he takes on defending champion Gawad in tomorrow’s final.
Gawad was up against World No.9 Joel Makin – only the second Welshman to appear in the World Tour Finals – and beat him 11-9, 11-8 to reach a fifth successive PSA World Tour country in his native Egypt.
“I’m very happy about my performance,” said Gawad. “I think I played well. Joel was controlling the middle of the court well and I started slow with some errors, so I tried to get my lines first before getting to the front corners. It worked well when I controlled the middle of the court. I just tried to play straight lines more and I’m pleased with my performance today.”
The finals of the CIB PSA World Tour Finals will use the traditional best-of-five games format and take place at 19:00 (GMT+2). Both matches will be broadcast on SQUASHTV, ON Sport (Egypt), and multiple mainstream broadcast channels around the world.
2019-20 CIB PSA World Tour Finals, Mall of Cairo, Egypt.
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt  Joel Makin (WAL) 2-0: 11-9, 11-8 (39m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Ali Farag (EGY) 2-1: 11-9, 7-11, 12-10 (61m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 2-1: 5-11, 11-6, 11-3 (30m)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 2-1: 18-20, 11-8, 11-2 (56m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v  Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA