Mohamed ElShorbagy to clash with Tarek Momen in men’s semi-finals at the Pyramids
By ALAN THATCHER and ELLIE MAWSON
World No.1 Nour El Sherbini booked her place in the semi-finals of the CIB Egyptian Open after she defeated compatriot Farida Mohamed in straight-games on a night of domination for the top seeds in front of the most awe-inspiring backdrop in world sport, the Great Pyramid of Giza.
El Sherbini, who won this title in 2020 after defeating compatriot Nouran Gohar in the final, was in top form as she comfortably dispatched World No.34 Mohamed, who had taken out England’s World No.7 Sarah-Jane Perry earlier in the tournament, by an 11-2, 11-4, 11-4 scoreline to set up a semi-final showdown with Camille Serme.
“It’s so special being here,” said the World Champion. “Playing in front of the Pyramids is extra special and I’m really happy with my performance, I found my shots even better this time and I’m really happy.
“I haven’t played Camille a lot this season, we actually only played once. I’m sure it’s going to be a tough battle, we always do have very tough matches and I think it’s the first between us in a Platinum semi-final event, so I’m looking forward to this one and keen to get back on court.
France’s World No.4 Serme had to be on her mettle as an edgy first game went all the way to the tie-break before she was able to take a crucial lead in the match.
From that moment on Rowan Elaraby, who like Serme was forced to withdraw from the Allam British Open last month, looked to struggle with her movement, failing to put any pressure on the No.3 seed as Serme closed out the 12-10, 11-3, 11-2 victory.
“I missed the British Open, so I was very keen to be here,” said Serme. “To be able to play in front of the Pyramids. I love this tournament, especially, so I’m very happy to reach the semis.
“It’s good to have a physio on site and to have a day off tomorrow, have some time off and I can recover and be ready for the semi-final on Thursday.”
In the men’s draw, top seed and World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy secured his place in the last four on his first appearance at the Pyramids since 2016 after an emphatic 3-0 win over Bristol training partner Eain Yow Ng.
An utterly dominant first game from ElShorbagy laid the foundations for a formidable 11-2, 11-7, 11-8 win as he put Malaysia’s Eain Yow, who was featuring in his first Platinum quarter final after wins over World No.9 Mostafa Asal and World No.11 Miguel Rodriguez earlier in the tournament, to the sword.
“I care a lot for him and I think because I care a lot for him I wanted to be really aggressive and play really well and make it really tough,” said ElShorbagy. “Even though this is his first quarter final, I wanted to show him there’s a long way to go.
“I know his attitude back in Bristol, he’s really hard-working, really committed to the sport and he’s going to go places in this sport.
“This is the most iconic tournament we have in Egypt. To be back here playing the semis, I’m really proud to come back and make it that far but we’re getting into the most important part of the tournament now, the later stages. That’s when most of the top guys raise their level and I expect that of myself in two days.”
ElShorbagy’s opponent in the last four will be compatriot and former world champion Tarek Momen after he came from a game down against fellow Egyptian Zahed Salem to advance.
The world No.4 suffered from a fired-up Salem in the first game as despite saving two game balls, the World No.15 was able to close out on the tie-break.
Momen soon settled down into his stylish rhythm though as he drew level before comfortably closing out the match 10-12, 11-4, 11-5, 11-2 to reach the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour Platinum event.
“Today was a bit more difficult, getting used to the conditions,” admitted Momen in his post-match interview. “It’s a mixture of windy and hot weather. Those are the two most difficult challenges a player can face on the court.
“At the beginning I was struggling to find my length, it was falling short and he was cutting off everything and I made a lot of errors. But at the start of the second game I started to adapt to the conditions. I started to find my range and made less errors and from then on, I think I played pretty well.
“The decision [to skip the British Open] was purely personal. I just wanted to spend some time with my family, but I think it worked out for the best for me because we’ve been playing for so long. For me to get this break, I think it was crucial to start the new season fresh.”
The quarter finals of the CIB Egyptian Open continue tomorrow (Wednesday) with the bottom half of the draw in action at 18:15 (GMT+2). Glass court action from the Great Pyramid of Giza will be shown live on SQUASHTV.
CIB Egyptian Open 2021, Great Pyramids Of Giza, Giza, Egypt (men’s and women’s platinum event with $295,000 prize money in each draw).
Men’s Quarter Finals (Top Half):
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Eain Yow Ng (MAS) 3-0: 11-2, 11-7, 11-8 (41m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Zahed Salem (EGY) 3-1: 10-12, 11-4, 11-5, 11-2 (43m)
Men’s Quarter Finals (Bottom Half, September 15):
 Paul Coll (NZL) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
[9/16] Mazen Hesham (EGY) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
Men’s Semi-Finals (Top Half):
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
Women’s Quarter Finals (Top Half):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Farida Mohamed (EGY) 3-0: 11-2, 11-4, 11-4 (21m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt  Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 3-0: 12-10, 11-3, 11-2 (31m)
Women’s Quarter Finals (Bottom Half, September 15):
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v  Salma Hany (EGY)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
Women’s Semi-Finals (Top Half):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Camille Serme (FRA)
Pictures courtesy of PSA