Egypt 6, France 2 in semi-finals
By SEAN REUTHE and ALAN THATCHER
Egypt’s World No.5 Marwan ElShorbagy will appear in the semi-finals of the AJ Bell PSA World Championships for the first time in his career after he saw off defending champion Karim Abdel Gawad inside Manchester Central Convention Complex on day six of the sport’s most prestigious tournament.
Gawad had been struggling with a shin injury prior to the tournament and a ruthless performance from 24-year-old ElShorbagy ground his compatriot down in 42 minutes by an 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 scoreline.
ElShorbagy’s win lines up the tantalising prospect of the men’s final featuring siblings for the first time, with older brother Mohamed – a two-time World Championship runner-up – in semi-final action against World No.1 Gregory Gaultier on the opposing side of the draw.
“I’m so happy, I can’t even describe how I’m feeling right now,” said Marwan. “It’s my first semi-final at the World Championships and obviously it is the biggest tournament of the year. This is what we train for and I am happy with my performance today.
“Of course, I saw Karim had an injury break and I hope whatever it is, I hope it’s not too serious. I just had to keep my focus. I think I lost my concentration a little bit in the third game and he came back very well but I’m just happy and I need to focus on my game because I have a big match tomorrow coming up.”
Marwan will clash with World No.3 Ali Farag in an attempt to set up a final meeting with either Mohamed or Gaultier, after Farag, October’s U.S. Open champion, recovered from a game down to beat Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez 5-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-6.
“Miguel started off firing in the first, he was much more aggressive than I was in the back corners, consistently in front of me and dominating the centre of the court throughout the entire first game,” Farag said.
“Thankfully, in my corner I had the former World No.1 [Karim Darwish], my coach, who knows what to say at the right times.
“All credit to Miguel, he didn’t make it easy until the very last minute, but I’m very happy to be in the semi-finals for the first time along with my wife [World No.8 Nour El Tayeb], so hopefully we both keep proceeding.”
Farag is part of a six-strong Egyptian contingent across both the men’s and women’s tournaments as two-time World Champion runner-up Raneem El Welily also moved through to the semi-finals.
El Welily, who lost out to World No.1 Nour El Sherbini in April’s World Championship final, ended eight-time winner Nicol David’s tournament, avenging her defeat to the Malaysian in the title-decider of the 2014 instalment.
“I am really happy to be through,” said El Welily. “Nicol will always put up a fight, especially in the World Championship, it’s her favourite tournament.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and I had to regroup and push back after she took the second game. I’m now looking forward to playing Camille again. She’s obviously on top form.”
She will take on French World No.3 Camille Serme for a place in the final for the second World Championships in a row after Serme moved into the last four of the World Championships for the second time in a row courtesy of a dominant 11-4, 11-6, 11-4 win over New Zealand’s Joelle King.
“I’m not thinking about winning it yet, I was just so focused on that one,” said Serme who, along with compatriot Gaultier, are the only non-Egyptians left in the tournament.
“I knew it was going to be a tough battle. Although it was 3-0, it was a hard match. Mentally and physically, the rallies were pretty quick and the pace was fast. I’m just relieved after this win.”
The semi-finals of the World Championships take place tomorrow (December 16) with action from all four matches shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and mainstream broadcast channels around the world, including BT Sport, beIN Sports, Fox Sports Australia and Astro.
Play from the first session starts at 13:00 local time (GMT), with the second session getting under way at 17:30.
2017 AJ Bell PSA World Championships
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 3-1: 5-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-6 (52m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 (42m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Ali Farag (EGY) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-4 (29m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Nicol David (MAS) 3-1: 11-8, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6 (42m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Pictures by PATRICK LAUSON (www.patricklausonphotography.com)