Friday, December 1, 2023

Mohamed ElShorbagy battles past Joel Makin to reach fourth final of the season as Mostafa Asal retires with an arm injury against Diego Elias

Sobhy sisters are sunk in Singapore as Nour El Tayeb reaches women’s final against Joelle King
By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor) and MATT COLES (PSA) in Singapore

Mohamed ElShorbagy won a tough ‘Battle of Britain’ against Joel Makin to secure his fourth final appearance of the season in tomorrow’s MARIGOLD Singapore Open decider against Diego Elias.

After England’s recent recruit from Egypt beat the Welsh No.1 11-8, 10-12, 11-2, 11-6 in 73 minutes at Singapore’s OCBC Arena, ElShorbagy announced that he wants to regain his world No.1 ranking.

He then found out he will be facing Peruvian Elias in the final after Mostafa Asal withdrew because of an arm injury in the second game.

The women’s final will be between Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb and Joelle King (New Zealand) after victories over the Sobhy sisters, Amanda and Sabrina.

The in-form ElShorbagy, seeking revenge for losing to Makin in the Manchester Open final back in April, stormed back to take the first game 11-8 after his opponent had opened up a 5-2 lead.

In the second game it was Makin’s turn to mount an astonishing comeback after ElShorbagy raced into a 10-5 lead, but Makin saved five game balls before going on to restore parity by winning 12-10.

ElShorbagy came out firing in the third game and produced a dominant display to win 11-2 in just eight minutes.

Makin requested a new ball heading in the fourth, which had a delayed start after the Welshman was bleeding from his finger, but it was ElShorbagy who profited from the introduction of the new ball as he sealed his place in tomorrow’s final with an 11-6 victory.

ElShorbagy said afterwards: “Joel is such a physical player. Not just a physical player, he’s one of the most difficult opponents I’ve had to face in my career in terms of the mental side of the game because he always fights. Even if he’s 10-0 down he’s always going to fight.

“It was a big mistake from me in the second game when I was 10-5 up and I had the chance to win it, but I kept fooling around, to be honest, and that’s a big mistake to do that against someone like him. You don’t want to do that against anyone, especially him.

“He fought like crazy and in the third game when I was 10-2 up, I wasn’t going to fall for the same mistake again. Mistakes like this in my career aren’t acceptable, so I’m very disappointed with how I did that, but you’ve got to move on and I’m happy to win in the end.

“Every game with him is going to be tough. I’m happy to win – this is the fourth final I will be playing this season out of the first six events I’ve played. To make four finals out of six events is what I’ve been training for this summer and I want to go back to World No.1 again.

“To do that, no one is going to care if you’re tired on court, if you’re sick or if you have all the excuses in the world to lose.

“Being World No.1 for five years, I had to play through sickness and injuries and never give an excuse when I lose. I’m happy to win, happy to be in another final and I’m really looking forward to the rest of this season.

“I want to win every single match I play and I want to be World No.1 again in my career so let’s see where I can go and I’m glad to be playing in finals again.”

Birthday boy Diego Elias moves towards the ball before his opponent Mostafa Asal retired through injury

Diego Elias sealed his place in tomorrow’s final of the MARIGOLD Singapore Open as he defeated Mostafa Asal, who retired midway through the second game through injury.

In a tight first game, Elias opened up a 7-3 lead before Asal pulled it back to 7-7, but the game came to a halt as Asal required an injury break after sustaining a spasm in his right arm during game ball. The point was awarded to Elias when play resumed, confirming an 11-9 win.

Elias was 5-0 up in the second before Asal signalled he was unable to continue. The Egyptian retired which resulted in the Peruvian Puma claiming the win.

Elias, who turns 26 today, said: “It was very intense inside (the court). It’s always very hard playing Mostafa – he’s a great player and on court he can be difficult sometimes which is understandable.

“We’re both big guys and sometimes we bump into each other. I feel bad for him that he couldn’t finish today, but I think I was playing great squash and I’m very happy with what I did.

“I think I’m playing good squash. I came in with a good strategy and if the match went on, I think I would have had a good chance. I wasn’t going to lose on my birthday, that’s for sure!”

Joelle King is on the ball against Sabrina Sobhy

New Zealand’s World No.5 Joelle King is into a second PSA World Tour final in as many weeks, as she came through a tough five-game battle with World No.18 Sabrina Sobhy to make it into the MARIGOLD Singapore Squash Open final at the OCBC Arena.

The Kiwi, who claimed the Barfoot & Thompson New Zealand Open title on Sunday in Tauranga, was yet to drop a game this week in Singapore prior to the semi-finals. Neither had her opponent, with the American causing an upset on day for to overcome English No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry.

It was King who broke her opponent’s streak first as she edged past Sobhy 12-10, despite the American saving three game balls in the opening game. Sobhy’s speed around the court and excellent shot selection paid dividends in the second as she was able to shrug off a fightback from King, with the World No.5 saving four game balls.

King took the lead once again after she won the third game 11-8, but Sobhy produced another excellent display in the fourth to force a decider after clinching an 11-5 win. In the end though, the experience of King proved to be too much for the unseeded American as the 34-year-old won 11-5 to progress to Sunday’s final.

“I’m relieved, definitely! I was feeling a little bit flat throughout that match, it was coming in waves and she was playing so well,” said King.

“Her movement, her sharpness, I was just trying to find a way to keep myself in the match. I knew in the fifth it was anyone’s game and whoever was going to play the start of it well was really important, which was what I tried to do.

“When you’ve been on tour for 16 years, you’ve got quite a lot of experience and that was probably the difference today. I tried to use that, start well, play each point as it came and I got a good start, so it was about protecting that.”

Victory for Nour El Tayeb against top seed Amanda Sobhy

King will face world No.6 Nour El Tayeb in the final after the Egyptian overcame world No.4 Amanda Sobhy in a gripping four-game clash.

Despite an hour-long quarter final on Friday, the American didn’t show any signs of tiredness in the early exchanges. She finished off loose balls well in the opening game, and despite El Tayeb saving a couple of game balls, Sobhy took the early lead.

For the midpoint of the second game, the Egyptian, who has been as high as world No.3, was able to turn things around. She was able to get in front in each of the next three games, and she kept those leads to book her spot in the final on Sunday afternoon.

She revealed: “It feels great! It is a very nice win, a very big win for me today, to back up yesterday and to come today. Amanda is playing well and at the beginning I thought she was going to be tired, so I went short a bit too soon, thinking she would be tired from yesterday’s match but she wasn’t.

“You can keep praising the game, it is nice to hear that! Hopefully tomorrow’s opponent heard it as well! It is exciting to be able to play this way again. I am very happy, grateful, to be able to play at this level, to make it to the final of a Gold event in Singapore. It is all very exciting! One more match tomorrow, it is very exciting for me!”

MARIGOLD Singapore Open, OCBC Arena, Singapore.

Men’s Semi-Finals:
[4] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) bt [6] Joel Makin (WAL) 3-1: 11-8, 10-12, 11-2, 11-6 (73m)
[3] Diego Elias (PER) bt [2] Mostafa Asal (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 5-0 retired (37m)

[4] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) v [3] Diego Elias (PER)

Women’s Semi-Finals:
[3] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [1] Amanda Sobhy (USA) 3-1: 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5 (47m)
[2] Joelle King (NZL) bt Sabrina Sobhy (USA) 3-2: 12-10, 7-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-5 (58m)

[3] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v [2] Joelle King (NZL)

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour 


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