Abouelghar powers through with seven Egyptians in last eight
By SEAN REUTHE in Cairo
Men’s World No.1 Ali Farag and defending women’s champion Nour El Sherbini saw their title challenges at the 2018-2019 CIB PSA World Tour Finals come to an end as group stage action drew to a close on day four of the season-ending spectacular at Cairo’s Mall of Arabia.
The first four days of the tournament have been held using a round-robin, best-of-three games format in the qualifying group stages, and Farag bowed out despite a 2-1 victory over New Zealand’s Paul Coll. His compatriot, Mohamed Abouelghar, defeated World No.4 Karim Abdel Gawad 2-0 to ensure that both him and Gawad qualify for the semi-finals with eight points, one more than last year’s runner-up Farag.
Egypt provide all four of the men’s semi-finalists, with Camille Serme of France preventing a scene of total domination by the home nation by booking her place in the women’s semis.
Abouelghar controlled his match against an off-the-pace Gawad, who had already qualified before stepping foot on court, winning 11-9, 11-3 to finish top of Group A and mark his World Tour Finals debut with a semi-finals spot.
“I was watching Ali’s match with Paul Coll,” said Abouelghar. “We were both joking about it, but I didn’t know the calculations before. I had it in my mind, like the Liverpool (Football Club) scenario (when they came back from a 3-0 defeat in the first leg to beat Barcelona), that anything can happen in sport and if I have the right attitude, then I can pull anything through, and I’m happy I did.
“I think the motivation for both of us was different. I came here to give myself one more chance and he was already qualified, so I think the motivation was different. I was happy I took advantage of that and I’m so happy to be in the semis. I’ve never had a good win in Egypt, so to have it now and on a big stage like this then I hope it doesn’t stop here and keeps going.”
World No.3 Tarek Momen was the other man to earn his spot in the semi-finals after he dispatched Peru’s Diego Elias. Momen, the 31-year-old from Cairo, dominated his opponent in the opening game and recovered from a second game blip to win 11-2, 4-11, 11-8 in 46 minutes, booking a spot in the last four of this tournament for the first time.
He finishes second in Group B behind defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy, who maintained his 100 per cent record with a comfortable win against Germany’s Simon Rösner yesterday (June 11).
Momen said: “I was really happy I remained calm, I kept talking positively to myself, I kept telling myself to forget about the lead and the physical advantage, forget about everything, it’s just two points so [I had to] fight for them and get the win.
“I’m happy with that and how I recovered after playing a perfect first game. Then I kind of played too much to the front and he capitalised on that. I saw the momentum shift, and I’m very happy I was able to get the win eventually.”
In the women’s event, British Open champion Nouran Gohar continued her superb form to send El Sherbini to a shock group stage exit, recovering from a game down to win 6-11, 11-5, 11-7 and secure top spot in Group B.
The pair come from different parts of Egypt – Gohar from Cairo and El Sherbini from Alexandria – and it was the former, playing in her home city, who established her hard-hitting style on the match to ensure she will face France’s Camille Serme in the semi-finals, which will be a repeat of the British Open final.
“I have so much respect for Nour, and the way she is playing recently is unbelievable,” said 21-year-old Gohar.
“I think there is [a slight rivalry between the different cities in Egypt], especially the club where Nour comes from as it is a big club and has had very good juniors in the past such as ElShorbagy and Nour and they have a really tough game to play against. There is always a rivalry between Cairo and Alexandria, and this competitive thing, I think it’s the main reason we are good at squash in Egypt.”
El Tayeb finished second in Group B after dismantling England’s Sarah-Jane Perry 11-0, 11-5, while Serme dispatched Wales’ Tesni Evans 11-5, 13-11 to ensure she finished second in Group A behind World No.1 Raneem El Welily, who had already qualified for the semis before today.
“From the beginning, I saw that Tesni was not moving as well as usual,” said 30-year-old Serme.
“But she is such a fighter and whatever happened I knew she was going to give it her all in the second. She tried to find some good solutions and it almost worked, it was a good tactic, but I’m happy that I found my solutions in the end. Every match is tough and everyone deserves to be in the semis, but I feel lucky that it’s me and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
The semi-finals will continue with the best-of-three games format, before the final reverts to the traditional best of five scoring. The semi-final fixtures begin at 19:00 (GMT+2) on June 13, with live action broadcast on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour.
CIB PSA World Tour Finals 2019, Mall of Arabia, 6th of October City, Cairo, Egypt.
Men’s Group A:
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Paul Coll (NZL) 2-1: 9-11, 12-10, 11-9 (69m)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 2-0: 11-9, 11-3 (24m)
Men’s Group B:
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt  Diego Elias (PER) 2-1: 11-2, 4-11, 11-8 (46m)
Women’s Group A:
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt  Tesni Evans (WAL) 2-0: 11-5, 13-11 (28m)
Women’s Group B:
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 2-1: 6-11, 11-5, 11-7 (33m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 2-0: 11-0, 11-5 (15m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v  Camille Serme (FRA)
Report by SEAN REUTHE (PSA PR and Media Manager). Edited by ALAN THATCHER.
Pictures and graphics courtesy of PSA