By JANE BALL (Squash Mad Reporter)
French No.2 seed Victor Crouin came back from 2-0 down and overturned four match balls to complete a thrilling comeback against unseeded Hungarian Balazs Farkas in the quarter-finals of the CIB Zed Squash Open in Cairo.
Farkas was appearing in his biggest ever PSA quarter-final, but the World No.70 showed no signs of any nerves in this PSA World Tour Bronze event at Zed Park.
He outplayed Crouin in the opening two games and continued his fine form into the third to lead 10-6 and put his opponent on the brink of a shock defeat.
But Crouin, the World No.18, kept focused and fought his way back into the match, winning six straight points against a tiring opponent. That third-game victory sapped all of the energy and confidence from Farkas, who looked increasingly forlorn as Crouin powered through the next two games.
“I just hate losing, so I kept fighting and I found a way in that third game,” said Crouin, who will appear in his second Bronze level semi-final.
“After winning that, I felt it was possible to come back, so I’m just very happy to win. It’s only a Bronze event, but it feels almost like a Platinum event. It’s an amazing venue here, it’s nice to play outside even though it’s hot.
“I love playing in Cairo. I have my friends here that I spent years with in the US and I still see them here in Cairo, so it’s great to be back.”
Crouin will take on No.4 seed and former World No.3 Omar Mosaad for a place in the title decider after ‘The Hammer of Thor’ got the better of No.8 seed Yahya Elnawasany.
Meanwhile, top seed Youssef Soliman will take on Germany’s Raphael Kandra in the other men’s semi-final following respective wins over Moustafa El Sirty and Mohamed ElSherbini.
“To beat Moustafa in three I had to be consistent with my hitting and movement, he’s so good with his stop/start game and I’m just glad to be through in three,” said Soliman.
“You can see this event could be a Platinum event, it has to be the best 50k in the history of the PSA and hopefully I can keep going.”
In the women’s quarter-finals, both of the top seeds also made it through to the last four, with Salma Hany and Nour El Tayeb beating Nadine Shahin and Marina Stefanoni, respectively.
Hany dropped the third game against Shahin, but otherwise put in a strong display in which she showcased her delicate touch with the racket. An 11-5, 11-7, 7-11, 11-6 victory has sent Hany through to her second PSA semi-final of the year after her last four finish in May’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions.
“Nadine is a very tricky opponent,” Hany said. “We play a lot on tour and it’s always back and forth between us. All respect to her, and I needed to be very sharp from the beginning. I had a good start in the first two games and then she was strong in the third, but I’m just glad I managed to get through in four games.”
El Tayeb, a former World No.3, required just 25 minutes to see off 19-year-old American Marina Stefanoni, who was appearing in her maiden Bronze quarter-final.
“First of all, I knew I was playing a dangerous opponent,” said El Tayeb.
“I’ve heard about Marina for the past four or five years, so I was very aware and nervous and I watched a few of her matches to see how she plays because she’s new to the tour. I think because I was aggressive and focused from the beginning it helped me play well throughout the whole match.”
El Tayeb will lock horns with No.3 seed Nele Gilis in the next round after the Belgian beat Hana Ramadan, while Hany will play Farida Mohamed, who beat France’s Melissa Alves.
The semi-finals of the CIB Zed Squash Open begin today (August 27) at 18:45 local time (GMT+2) and all of the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV.
2022 CIB Zed Squash Open, Zed Park, Cairo, Egypt.
 Victor Crouin (FRA) bt Balazs Farkas (HUNG) 3-2: 8-11, 13-15, 12-10, 11-6, 11-2 (56m)
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt  Yahya Elnawasany (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-9, 13-11 (39m)
 Raphael Kandra (GER) bt  Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 12-10, 11-3 (34m)
 Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt  Moustafa El Sirty (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-7 (47m)
Men’s Semi-Finals (August 27):
 Victor Crouin (FRA) v  Omar Mosaad (EGY)
 Raphael Kandra (GER) v  Youssef Soliman (EGY)
 Salma Hany (EGY) bt  Nadine Shahin (EGY) 3-1: 11-5, 11-7, 7-11, 11-6 (45m)
 Farida Mohamed (EGY) bt  Melissa Alves (FRA) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 14-12 (26m)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) bt  Hana Ramadan (EGY) 3-1: 11-2, 11-6, 10-12, 11-7 (46m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Marina Stefanoni (USA) 3-0: 11-5, 11-2, 11-4 (25m)
Women’s Semi-Finals (August 27):
 Salma Hany (EGY) v  Farida Mohamed (EGY)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour