By SEAN REUTHE – Squash Mad Correspondent
World No.11 Mohamed Abouelghar finally got the better of fellow Egyptian Marwan ElShorbagy at the sixth attempt on the PSA World Tour as he eliminated the in-form World No.5 to reach the third round of the El Gouna International Squash Open, PSA Platinum event.
ElShorbagy has been in magnificent form of late after winning the CIB Black Ball Open in March, while he has often played his best squash in El Gouna and captured his first major title here back in 2018.
But Abouelghar twice fought back from a game and then dominated proceedings in the third game at the El Gouna Conference and Culture Center to seal victory, winning 8-11, 11-3, 11-13, 11-5, 11-3 in 70 minutes. He will take on rising Egyptian star Mostafa Asal in the next round.
“The last time I beat Marwan was 2010 [non-PSA], so that was 11 years ago,” said Abouelghar.
“I had nothing to lose. He has been playing great and he’s the man of the hour. Getting on court, I wanted to enjoy myself and take it one point at a time and see how the match unfolds. I’m happy with how I held my head throughout it.
“I’ve always challenged the top guys, but I was losing more than I was winning. The mental part played a big part in that, so I had to find the balance and work on that, rather than just attacking everything and I’ve been working on that.”
Meanwhile, top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy got his title challenge under way with victory over Scotland’s Greg Lobban.
The World No.2, who won this tournament in 2016 and is also a two-time runner-up, beat World No.21 Lobban 11-7, 11-3, 12-10 to book his spot in the last 16, where he will take on Frenchman Baptiste Masotti.
“I love a physical battle,” said ElShorbagy afterwards. “Going a game ball down, going to a tie-break, I think these are all positive things. It all can get better from here. He played really well in the third, he is a tough player. I’ve watched him so many years and I know how he plays. He played the kind of squash that I needed to play against to get myself sharp for the rest of the tournament.”
Over at the El Gouna Squash Complex, World No.7 Fares Dessouky defeated 2017 champion Gregory Gaultier and he will take on England’s Patrick Rooney, who beat Switzerland’s Dimitri Steinmann to reach a Platinum third round for the first time. Welshman Joel Makin and Egypt’s Youssef Ibrahim were the other men’s winners on day three.
El Sherbini, the women’s World No.1, collected a comfortable 3-0 win over 19-year-old Farida Mohamed to ensure she will take on fellow Egyptian Yathreb Adel for a place in the last eight after Adel beat Hana Ramadan in a quick-fire 3-0 victory.
“Another up-and-coming player, she’s playing so well and she’s very tough,” El Sherbini said.
“She’s been giving some very tough matches for lots of the top players now. It’s the first round and the first time to play her, it was difficult in the beginning but I’m really glad I got back to my game plan in the last two games. The first time playing an opponent you have never played before means the first game is always tense.”
World No.4 Camille Serme was also in action on the glass court at the El Gouna Conference and Culture Center as she achieved an entertaining 3-1 win against Belgium’s Tinne Gilis.
Gilis battled back well from going a game down as she threw everything she could at Serme, but the Frenchwoman was able to use her experience to close the win out. Serme will face Canada’s Hollie Naughton in the next round of the Platinum event, with Naughton getting the biggest win of her career against India’s Joshna Chinappa over at the complex.
“Because of the COVID rules, we have trained together for the last two days,” Serme said.
“We did play some rallies and I knew they were going to be long rallies and it would be very physical. She had her chance today and played really good squash. I had to work hard physically, mentally and tactically as well.”
World No.7 Hania El Hammamy is also through after beating Wales’ Emily Whitlock, and she will take on World No.33 Nada Abbas next. England’s Alison Waters will take on compatriot Sarah-Jane Perry in the after her win over Mariam Metwally, while Perry received a walkover after her second round opponent, Mayar Hany, withdrew from the tournament earlier today.
2021 El Gouna International Squash Open, El Gouna, Egypt.
Men’s Second Round (Top Half):
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Greg Lobban (SCO) 3-0: 11-7, 11-3, 12-10 (44m)
Baptiste Masotti (FRA) bt Todd Harrity (USA) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 (30m)
Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) bt Eain Yow Ng (MAS) 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 11-7 (34m)
 Joel Makin (WAL) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-4, 11-5 (32m)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 3-1: 11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 11-3 (53m)
Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) 3-1: 11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 11-4 (48m)
Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-0: 11-2, 11-9, 11-6 (54m)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 8-11, 11-3, 11-13, 11-5, 11-3 (70m)
Men’s Third Round (Bottom Half May 23):
 Paul Coll (NZL) v Victor Crouin (FRA)
Karim El Hammamy (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v Raphael Kandra (GER)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
Men’s Third Round (Top Half May 24):
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Baptiste Masotti (FRA)
Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) v  Joel Makin (WAL)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) v Patrick Rooney (ENG)
Mostafa Asal (EGY) v Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
Women’s Second Round (Top Half):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Farida Mohamed (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-4, 11-5 (30m)
Yathreb Adel (EGY) bt Hana Ramadan (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-2, 11-3 (20m)
Alison Waters (ENG) bt Mariam Metwally (EGY) 3-1: 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9 (40m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Mayar Hany (EGY) w/o
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Emily Whitlock (WAL) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-4 (30m)
Nada Abbas (EGY) bt Menna Hamed (EGY) 3-1: 11-3, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6 (36m)
Hollie Naughton (CAN) bt Joshna Chinappa (IND) 3-2: 10-12, 11-4, 11-6, 6-11, 11-8 (43m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt Tinne Gilis (BEL) 3-1: 11-4, 11-13, 12-10, 11-9 (74m)
Women’s Third Round (Bottom Half May 23):
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v Lucy Turmel (ENG)
Olivia Fiechter (USA) v  Salma Hany (EGY)
 Joelle King (NZL) v Rowan Elaraby (EGY)
Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
Women’s Third Round (Top Half May 24):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Yathreb Adel (EGY)
Alison Waters (ENG) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v Nada Abbas (EGY)
Hollie Naughton (CAN) v  Camille Serme (FRA)
Pictures courtesy of PSA