‘I am happy to say to everyone that I’m back’
By MATT COLES
Egypt’s Fares Dessouky and Nouran Gohar shocked World No.2s Mohamed ElShorbagy and Nour El Sherbini, respectively, as the quarter-finals of the El Gouna International, PSA World Tour Platinum tournament drew to a close on a thrilling night of action at the Abu Tig Marina.
Dessouky, who currently sits at World No.42, beat compatriot ElShorbagy for the first time in four attempts, having lost the previous three to the former World Champion, to reach his first Platinum semi-final since he tore his ACL in November 2017.
The 24-year-old was given a wildcard spot for the tournament and will appear in the semi-finals in El Gouna for a third time after winning 15-13, 11-4, 8-11, 11-9.
“I’m happy to say to everyone that I’m back playing at a high level,” said Dessouky.
“Mentally as well, I was good today, I feel I’m playing better than before. I’m really happy to beat Mohamed today, it was a really tough match, especially after 14 months out injured.
“I love playing in Egypt, I feel like the people here love me, and I give my best here. I’m playing in front of my family and friends, this is something incredible, and I’m happy to be here in El Gouna one more time to play on this beautiful court.”
Dessouky’s win guarantees a new men’s champion, and he will take on 2017 runner-up Karim Abdel Gawad for a place in the title decider.
Former World No.1 Gawad, who claimed top spot when reaching the final in El Gouna two years ago, ended the title defence of men’s champion Marwan ElShorbagy as he claimed an 11-9, 12-10, 11-6 triumph.
A year ago to the day, ElShorbagy got the better of Gawad in the quarter finals en route to winning his maiden Platinum final, but this time, it was the World No.6 who took the victory in straight games.
“It was very tough. 3-0 against someone like Marwan means a lot to me as he is a very tough opponent. I am really happy to see him back and really happy with my performance today,” said Gawad, who won the last Platinum event held in Egypt, December’s Black Ball Open
“I have very happy memories [of Gouna]. Reaching the finals and reaching World No.1 here in Egypt is a huge memory for me that I can never forget. Playing in Egypt is always different for me, wherever it is, in Gouna or Cairo. It is a great thing for me and I am always happy to playing a tournament here in Egypt.”
In the women’s draw, Gohar is into the semi finals of the El Gouna International after she beat World Champion El Sherbini for the first time since 2014.
Gohar had lost nine straight matches to El Sherbini since then, but played her best squash to win 11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 12-10, securing a match-up with France’s Camille Serme in the last four.
“It feels amazing. The only other time I beat her was our first meeting and that was in Egypt as well, it is my lucky place,” Gohar said.
“I am really pleased with it. It was a really tough match which could have gone either way. I gave my best and she gave her best so I am really pleased with it. I expected her to come back. She was not going to leave it like that, even when I was 9-5 up in the last game. I was sure she was going to get everything and she was playing as if it was 0-0 or something. She is a true fighter and I really respect her for that.”
World No.4 Serme won the opening match of the night in a high-quality four-game encounter with England’s World No.6 Sarah-Jane Perry.
The pair had met nine times on the PSA World Tour previously, with the Frenchwoman having won seven of those. Serme fell behind after losing the first, but battled back to win the next three against a spirited Perry, who is still continuing her return from an elbow surgery.
“I knew I had the right tactic because I was leading in the first game, but I tried not to panic. Of course, she came back strongly but I knew what I had to do and I tried to stick to it,” Serme said.
“It was a big battle physically. I think physically, I could feel that she was getting tired with long rallies, so I was trying to force myself to have long rallies even though I was losing them. I had to try and make her tired, and maybe that helped in the end.”
The action continues today (Thursday) as the semi finals take place at Abu Tig Marina. Play will start at 18:30 local time (GMT+2), with four matches set for tomorrow evening.
Matches from the glass court will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour (Indian subcontinent only). Play starts at 18:30 local time (GMT+2).
El Gouna International Open 2019, Abu Tig Marina, El Gouna, Egypt.
Men’s Quarter Finals (Bottom Half):
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 12-10, 11-6 (43m)
[WC] Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-1: 15-13, 11-4, 8-11, 11-9 (61m)
Women’s Quarter Finals (Bottom Half):
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-1: 12-14, 13-11, 11-8, 12-10 (61m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-2: 11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 12-10 (74m)
Men’s Semi Finals, Thursday April 25:
 Ali Farag (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v [WC] Fares Dessouky (EGY)
Women’s Semi Finals, Thursday April 25:
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA