All-Egyptian thriller as injured Nour reaches first US Open semi-final
By NATHAN CLARKE
World No.8 Nour El Tayeb won arguably the match of the week at the 2015 Delaware Investments US Open, PSA World Series tournament, as she knocked World No.1 Raneem El Welily out of the competition in a thrilling, high-quality quarter-final encounter in Philadelphia today.
The pairing, two of the best and most audacious shot-makers on the women’s tour, put their friendship on hold at Drexel University as they came out firing, hitting winners for fun as they traded points, rallies and games in a high octane encounter that went all the way to a fifth and decisive game in front of an enraptured crowd.
After almost 70 minutes of action and some of the most physically punishing rallies seen on the stunning all-glass show court all week and with the scoreline reading 2-2 and 9-9, a fortuitous nick handed El Tayeb match ball and she duly converted to record one of her best ever wins and move into the semi-finals.
“Raneem and I are great friends off court and it took me a little while to forget that tonight but I had to keep telling myself she’s just another opponent and pretend I don’t like her very much,” said El Tayeb (right).
“I wanted to win just as much as she did and I gave everything to beat her and to make the semi-finals means so much to me. But I didn’t come here to beat the World No.1 and then lose in the next round so I’ve got to recover and prepare now for the semi-finals as best I can and give it my all.”
The win handed El Tayeb just her second every victory over El Welily and it was made all the more remarkable due to a dramatic turn of events in the third game as the match looked to be heading towards a premature end when El Tayeb screamed out in pain after a heavy fall.
But the 22-year-old returned to court following an injury time-out and, despite her visible discomfort, played through the pain to book a place in the US Open semi-finals for the first time.
“I still felt pain in my shoulder (after the fall) but it’s the quarter-final of the US Open and opportunities like this might not come again so I just had to push through and forget about it and I owe a lot of thanks to my fiancé Ali (Farag) for keeping me motivated to push on.”
Elsewhere there was double delight for French squash enthusiasts as Gregory Gaultier and Camille Serme overcame their quarter-final opponents, Simon Rösner and Nour El Sherbini, respectively, to reach the last four of the men’s and women’s events.
The 32-year-old Gaultier, a two-time US Open winner, demolished German out-classed Rösner in an emphatic straight-games triumph while Serme was similarly ruthless as she dispatched 2014 runner-up El Sherbini, the Egyptian World No.7 – also in straight games.
“Beating Simon 3-0 is a good performance and one I’m happy with,” said Gaultier.
“He’s No.6 in the world and close to the four guys so he’s a very dangerous opponent but I was very fluid in the first two games – I feel confident and I’m really enjoying my squash.
“I’ve felt good all week and as long as I play well that’s all that matters. I’ll keep doing my routines during the day off tomorrow and stay as healthy as possible and do all the things that I need to do to stay in the best shape for the semi-final.”
Gaultier will now face World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy, the defending men’s champion who defeated French number two Mathieu Castagnet, for a place in the final while Serme will take on El Tayeb.
“I’m really pleased to be in the semi-finals especially be beating such as dangerous player 3-0,” said Serme. “I’m looking forward to playing again on Friday and hopefully I can play well again.”
Tonight, the English get the chance to remind the world that they are still a squash powerhouse with Laura Massaro facing Malaysian maestro Nicol David, with Nick Matthew and Daryl Selby in action in the men’s quarter-finals, both against Egyptian opposition. Number two seed Matthew meets Fares Dessouki while Selby faces tall No.6 seed Omar Mosaad.
2015 Delaware Investments US Open, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA.
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt  Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-2: 7-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9 (69m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-8 (37m)
 Dipika Pallikal (IND) v  Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) – To be played Oct 15
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v  Nicol David (MAS) – To be played Oct 15
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-0: 15-13, 11-8, 11-8 (54m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Simon Rösner (GER) 3-0: 11-4, 11-3, 11-9 (46m)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v  Omar Mosaad (EGY) – To be played Oct 15
Fares Dessouki (EGY) v  Nick Matthew (ENG) – To be played Oct 15
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com) courtesy of PSA and US Open