Mohamed El Shorbagy joined fellow Egyptian Ramy Ashour in the last four of the World Championships scalping England’s James Willstrop 3-1 in Manchester last night.
The 22 year old from Alexandria will face Frenchman Greg Gaultier who denied Daryl Selby in the evening’s second semi. Gaultier is in imperious form. He has not dropped a game in the tournament and his last nine matches have finished three love.
Shorbagy went two up against Willstrop, surrendered the third then finished the off the job 12-10, 11-6, 2-11, 11-9. In a tense fourth game it was Shorbagy who took the crucial points at the end, finishing on a stroke which Willstrop put to the video ref, but it was upheld and Shorbagy was through.
Afterwards, a relieved Shorbagy said:”I didn’t want to go into a fifth game.
“At 9-7 down in the fourth, I just went for it – he was playing more accurately than me at the time,” explained Elshorbagy later, describing the four points in a row he won to clinch the match 12-10, 11-6, 2-11, 11-9.
“I had to hit the ball hard. I knew I had to win the game – I didn’t want to go into a fifth.
“Playing in the quarter-finals of the world championship is huge – and you could see that we were both a bit nervous at the beginning – before a big crowd and on such a big stage
“The first game was crucial – and winning it gave me huge confidence for the whole match. I knew he’d start the second well – and I wanted to get a big lead. I thought I did that well.
“I felt I was playing his game better than him – then I started to play the game I wanted.
“I think I will be fresh tomorrow. I’ve got my team with me – my father, mother and my brother – and I’m speaking to Jonah (Barrington) every day. He gives me lots of mental confidence – he understands how my brain works. I believe I can beat any player.”
It was a demoralised Willstrop who tried to explain the outcome later: “I lost context, I lost perspective. I don’t like losing.
“I was very poor at 9-7 – I thought the rest of the game was fine – but to do that at 9-7, two errors on the trot – you just can’t do that at this level. If those errors hadn’t happened – who knows?
“I felt happy as I walked onto the court – I was in a great frame of mind. It was a great atmosphere and a fantastic crowd.
“At 9-7 in the fourth, I felt really good and thought I could win the match. I thought I was turning it round.”
“It’s hugely disappointing – but credit to him, he’s a good player.”
Gaultier maintained his record of not dropping a game in the tournament. Selby, as gritty and competitive as ever, pushed him hard but could not break him down. Final score: 11-7, 11-4, 12-10 (60m).
The second-seeded Frenchman was in control for the first two games despite late surges by the Essex hero.
Urged on by the crowd, Selby opened up a 4-0 advantage in the third, and although Gaultier levelled at 6-all the Englishman had a chance to extend the match at 10-9. Three points in a row for Gaultier – ending in a stroke just as in the previous match – put an end to those hopes.
“I’m playing the best squash of my life, and I’ve been feeling really good in the last few tournaments,” said Gaultier, “I hope to be able to keep it going to the end.”
Ashour takes on Nick Matthew in today’s second semi.