All-Egyptian showdown after mighty Mo mauls Matthew in 94-minute marathon
By Squash Mad Special Correspondent
Mohamed Elshorbagy produced one of the most phenomenal performances of his career to reach the final of the PSA World Series Finals.
The 22-year-old overcame world champion Nick Matthew in a pulsating match lasting 94 minutes to set up an all-Egyptian final with squash superstar Ramy Ashour.
Ashour gained revenge for his recent defeat in the final of the Windy City Open in Chicago by beating French number one Gregory Gaultier in straight games.
After a close opening game, which Ashour won 13-11, he clearly had the edge as he took the next two.
Elshorbagy’s tussle with Matthew was an intense, dramatic encounter, with the young Egyptian using his bigger frame to advantage as plenty of rallies grew physical.
It’s difficult to imagine anyone trying to rough up a doughty fighter like Matthew, but clearly Elshorbagy had a plan of attack that included an absence of fear in such situations. It’s always difficult to referee such a match when the exchanges are both fast and physical, and apportioning blame when access issues are hotly contested is a difficult job.
Eventually, Elshorbagy managed to wear down his opponent and powered home 11-3 in the fifth game. Having lost to Tarek Momen in the group stages, he will be aware of the pitfalls of losing focus as he prepares to face Ashour in the final.
He came close to beating him in the 2012 World Open final in Qatar. Let’s see if Ramy can keep him at bay tomorrow.
Elshorbagy’s victory over Matthew was his second consecutive win over the Englishman, having beaten him in the 2013 Qatar Classic final.
“I’m really happy to win today,” said Elshorbagy. “That’s the second time in a row I have beaten him 3-2 and today it was a very tough battle.
“I was really pleased with how I started in the fifth game and I think I broke him down mentally.
“There were some scrappy moments in the match but it’s an individual sport so things are bound to happen on court. We’re both hungry players but whatever happens on court stays on there and after the match we shook hands and he wished me good luck.”
Having already beaten Ashour 2-0 in the round robin best-of-three match phase earlier this week, Elshorbagy will be hoping to make it two-from-two against his elder compatriot and make amends for his defeat to Ashour in the 2012 World Championship in Qatar in what was one of the most exhilarating matches in recent years.
“Playing Ramy in the final is great and I’m really happy that we’ve been able to make it an all-Egyptian final,” he said.
“It’s the first ever all-Egyptian final in the World Series Finals history, which is great for our country and I think our matches are always interesting because we’re both such attacking players.
“I will go back and recover now and see how it goes tomorrow. You train to play five tough matches in every tournament so hopefully I can come back and play even better tomorrow.”
Ashour will be looking to add a second World Series Finals title to his trophy cabinet, having won the event in 2007, and looked to be back at his sublime best as he dismantled French World No.2 Gaultier 3-0 in their semi-final.
“I think when I can beat Greg in three straight games in the form he has been in recently then I can say that I’m almost back at my full potential,” said Ashour.
“I’ve recently come back from injury and it’s still in the back of my head but I way happy and glad to play the way I did today.
“The most important thing for me now is to play injury free and to play without any threats and just think about only the ball without any other thoughts entering my mind.”
PSA World Series Finals, semi-finals, Westwood Club, Richmond, Virginia.
Ramy Ashour (Egypt) bt Gregory Gaultier (France) 3-0: 13-11, 11-8, 11-7 (47 mins)
Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egypt) bt Nick Matthew (England) 3-2: 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 4-11, 11-3 (94 mins)
Pictures by Mick Anders Photography