Egyptian aces triumph over Nick Matthew and Daryl Selby in semi-finals
By SEAN REUTHE in Doha
World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy will clash with World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad in the final of the 2016 Qatar Classic after Egypt defeated England on the fifth day of action at the World Series tournament held at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha.
ElShorbagy went up against England No.1 Nick Matthew in the latest chapter of their epic rivalry, with their last match seeing ElShorbagy overturn a two-game deficit to win in last month’s U.S. Open final. Much like in Philadelphia, the Egyptian found himself on the receiving end of a Matthew masterclass in the opening two games as the three-time World Champion limited ElShorbagy’s ferocious hitting to great effect.
But ElShorbagy overturned a 9-7 deficit to win the third game, which sparked a storming comeback from the Egyptian, who outplayed Matthew in the fourth and ground out a tense win in the decider to claim an 8-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-9 victory to reach a second World Series Final in a row.
“I think we were both up and down in our level in this tournament, but this is the 20th time we’ve played each other in our career,” said ElShorbagy after their 83-minute contest.
“For me tonight, I think that was my best performance of the whole season. The way I fought back and the way we played, I think we had a go at each other, but we played the game in the right spirit.
“I think we played a great match, it was a great battle. Thanks to him for having a great match and I’m sure we’re going to have other great battles again in the future.”
Gawad, meanwhile, will also appear at a second World Series final of the season after defeating England No.3 Daryl Selby by a 3-1 margin.
The World No.3, who won the sport’s biggest prize, the PSA Men’s World Championship, a fortnight ago, also reached the final of the Hong Kong Open in August, and overcame a strong start from Selby in Doha to take the match in four.
Gawad and ElShorbagy last met in the semi-final stage of the World Championship, with Gawad winning in five to seal a first ever win over his compatriot.
“Everyone is under pressure, that’s just part of the sport,” said Gawad. “Everyone hides it their own way, but inside I feel so much pressure. It’s part of our game so I have to deal with it.
“It’s always tough to play ElShorbagy, and to play him twice in two weeks is even tougher. Tomorrow, I’m expecting a very tough match. I’m looking forward to my first final in Qatar.”
The pair’s final encounter with have extra significance on the 2016-17 PSA Road to Dubai standings, with ElShorbagy situated in first place with 115 points, while Gawad sits just 10 points behind him in second.
A win for either player would go a long way to boosting their qualification chances for the lucrative season-ending Dubai PSA World Series Finals – where only the top eight qualifiers will claim a coveted berth – adding yet more motivation ahead of tomorrow’s final.
PSA M150 Men’s Qatar Classic 2016, Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex, Doha, Qatar.
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Nick Matthew (ENG) 3-2: 8-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-9 (83m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-1: 14-16, 11-6, 11-2, 11-5 (51m)
Final (To be played Friday November 18, 2016):
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com) courtesy of PSA