Mostafa Asal foils Ali Farag to reach semi-finals in Cairo
By SEAN REUTHE – Squash Mad Correspondent
World No.2 Nouran Gohar ended a three-match losing streak to World No.1 Nour El Sherbini to send the top seed crashing out of the CIB PSA World Tour Finals earlier today at Cairo’s Mall of Arabia.
Gohar had already qualified from Group A of the women’s event and came into the match having won only one of her last four matches against the four-time world champion, with that win coming in the group stage of the 2018-19 World Tour Finals.
El Sherbini edged the opener on the tiebreak, but Gohar came roaring back to win 10-12, 11-7, 11-8 in 52 minutes, which sees her qualify top of Group A along with Camille Serme, who needed Gohar to win to qualify for the semi-finals.
“Not only in the first game, but in the last game as well she was 8-5 up,” said Gohar afterwards.
“So she was three points away from the win and it’s never easy to play against Nour. She’s young but very experienced and it’s very tricky and tough to play against her. That’s why she’s World No.1, so to win against her is something else.
“For the semis, we are playing best of three as well, so we are kind of prepared. It’s very different because the semi-final is important, but it’s best of three, so you have to be on your toes from the first point.
“I’m just trying to relax and enjoy it, it’s one of the most prestigious tournaments and I’m really happy to be playing this event in Egypt, it’s even more special when your sponsors, CIB and Wadi Degla, are the sponsors of the event.”
Gohar will take on New Zealand’s Joelle King in the semi-finals, while Serme will play defending Hania El Hammamy in the latest chapter of their enthralling rivalry after she beat King 2-0 to top Group B.
“It was really tough in the first game, the gap was huge between us,” said El Hammamy.
“I’m playing against the top eight players in the world, it is never easy against them. I’m really happy to win the three matches 2-0. It’s always tough against Joelle, so hopefully we will have more battles.”
England’s Sarah-Jane Perry won the other women’s match of the night, beating United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy 2-0 to finish third in Group B.
In the men’s event, World Junior Champion Mostafa Asal ended a six-match losing streak to World No.1 Ali Farag to finish top of Group A ahead of World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy.
Asal outclassed Farag in a coming-of-age performance and the 20-year-old won 11-4, 11-6 to set up a semi-final clash with world champion Tarek Momen in his first World Tour Finals.
“It’s definitely one of my favourite matches to date,” said Asal. “It’s an unbelievable win and I’m looking forward to the semi-finals. It’s my first tournament here and I appreciate everyone who came and supported me today.”
New Zealand’s Paul Coll finished top of Group B courtesy of a 9-11, 11-1, 11-5 win over Gregoire Marche to qualify for the semis at this event for the first time and he will line up against ElShorbagy in the last four in a repeat of May’s El Gouna International, which the Egyptian won.
“I think it [the semi-final] will be similar to tonight,” Coll said. “Tonight was pretty much knockout matches for who would go through. I’ve just got to go out there and look forward to playing Mohamed. It will be good, he is on top form but I’m feeling good out there at the moment.”
Momen advanced to the last four courtesy of a 2-0 win over Joel Makin that was punctured by a lengthy break in the first game due to humidity making the court floor slippery. Momen will play Asal for a place in the title decider.
The semi-finals take place today (June 26) and play begins at 19:00 (GMT+2). The action will be shown live on SQUASHTV (worldwide) and the channels of contracted broadcast partners.
2020-21 CIB PSA World Tour Finals, Mall of Arabia, Cairo, Egypt.
Results – Day Four: Men’s Group A:
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt  Ali Farag (EGY) 2-0: 11-4, 11-6 (34m)
Men’s Group B:
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt  Gregoire Marche (FRA) 2-1: 9-11, 11-1, 11-5 (59m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt  Joel Makin (WAL) 2-0: 14-12, 11-2 (55m)
Women’s Group A:
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 2-1: 10-12, 11-7, 11-8 (52m)
Women’s Group B:
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 2-0: 12-10, 11-5 (25m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt  Amanda Sobhy (USA) 2-0: 11-8, 11-4 (23m)
TODAY’S ACTION (June 26)
Men’s Semi-Finals (best of three games):
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Women’s Semi-Finals (best of three games):
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v  Joelle King (NZL)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v  Camille Serme (FRA)
Squash fans can download the CIB Road to Egypt App to stay up-to-date with all the news from the tournament. Available from the App Store and Google Play.
Pictures and graphics courtesy of PSA