Referee comes on court to warn Asal and Elias as night at the Museum turns nasty
By ALAN THATCHER and ELLIE MAWSON
Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb claimed a sensational victory over world No.3 Hania El Hammamy to advance to the semi-finals of the CIB PSA World Championships in Cairo. On the same night, Mostafa Asal beat Diego Elias in an ill-tempered clash that saw the referee go on court to warn both players.
World No.28 El Tayeb was in incredible form to overcome El Hammamy 11-8, 11-4, 10-12, 11-8 in a battle lasting 76 minutes.
El Tayeb, 29, gave birth to her daughter, Farida, just 10 months ago but showed that she is back to the form that took her to a career-high ranking of world No.3 back in 2018.
Fearless throughout, she produced a shot-making masterclass to reach the last four of this event for the third time in her career.
The 2018-19 PSA World Championship runner-up took control from the outset to take a two-game lead, before El Hammamy showcased her trademark resilience to fight back on the tiebreak in the third.
El Tayeb resumed her control in the fourth and showed nerves of steel to close out an astonishing victory.
El Tayeb said: “I pictured myself winning this event so many times, but to actually be in the semis after such matches, is for me an incredible achievement.
“It’s been very tough with Hania. I was up 2-0 against Hania before and lost, so I know how it feels to be 2-0 up and lose.
“I took a lot from Paul Coll’s match yesterday. He was 2-0 up and then managed to win in the end. The top three girls are very strong and I just beat one of them and hopefully there are two of them left. I’m counting on my family and friends to come and cheer me on tomorrow.”
El Tayeb will now face five-time world champion Nour El Sherbini for a place in the final of the sport’s most lucrative tournament, where $1,100,000 in total player prize compensation – split equally across the men’s and women’s draws – will be up for grabs.
El Sherbini, competing in her first event for two months after injury, secured her place in the semi-finals after battling past a resilient Sarah-Jane Perry of England, with the Egyptian eventually prevailing 11-5, 8-11, 11-7, 14-12.
“I’m really happy I’m through,” said El Sherbini. “SJ is one of the smartest, if not the smartest, players on tour. She’s very skilful and she was moving really well today.
“She broke my rhythm a little and I just tried to fight and stick in every point. I’m really happy to sneak the last game.”
El Tayeb will also be joined in the semi-final stage by her husband Ali Farag after he defeated Marwan ElShorbagy in straight-games to reach the last four in the men’s event.
Farag, the defending men’s World Champion, looked to be in total control as he withstood an early onslaught from ElShorbagy to prevail and set up a pivotal encounter with compatriot Mostafa Asal for a place in the final.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better set-up to produce my best squash,” said Farag. “CIB are taking the sport to another level and that makes us feel very proud to be on court.
“I’ve got every single member of my support team, from the age of zero to 30 here with me. I can’t be more inspired, and I hope I can keep up this brand of squash.”
The last men’s winner of the day was Mostafa Asal as he overcame Peru’s Diego Elias 9-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-7 in a tense affair lasting 76 minutes.
The match was constantly disrupted by decisions and traffic issues before world No.4 Asal reached his first PSA World Championship semi-finals.
Ahead of the match, much had been made about the growing rivalry between the two, with the pair’s last meeting a notoriously ill-tempered 127-minute slugfest at this year’s Canary Wharf Classic.
This episode began well and at a good pace, before play began to break down midway through the first game as the two players collided with increasing frequency.
After Elias took the opener 11-9 in 27 minutes, the pair continued to clash regularly in the second as tempers frayed and referee Sheldon Anderson was called on to make a number of decisions.
The stop-start nature of the second game appeared to break the concentration of Elias, who displayed his frustration as Asal levelled the match with an 11-4 win.
Between the second and third games, Anderson walked on court for discussions with both players, and from then on the match flowed better.
Asal was able to better adjust to the new rhythm of the match and showed the best of his incredible athleticism to take the lead with an 11-7 win.
A frustrated Elias changed his approach and went short more often in the fourth game, but to little avail, and Asal – backed vociferously by a partisan crowd – made short work of the World No.5 with another 11-7 win.
Afterwards, Asal thanked the crowd in Arabic for their support, telling them that they helped him perform to his best.
He said: “I’m playing for the crowd, it’s 100 percent a boost for me. I’m so happy to make it into the semi finals, match by match, opponent by opponent.
“Every time I’m looking [at my performances], I have won the World Tour Finals, I have won the US Open, I’m winning major titles, so why not this? It’s going to be my first [World Championship] trophy.
“First of all, I’m looking forward to my next match, against an unbelievable opponent, and we are studying each other really well.
“I’m not feeling like it’s a physically tough tournament for me. My matches have been 30 minutes or something like this, so I’m ready to perform and be on here.
“I’m playing 10 minutes from my home club and all the fans are coming in. It’s going to be tough tomorrow but I’ll try to make it!”
The semi-finals of the CIB PSA World Championships Cairo take place today (May 21) and play from the Egyptian National Museum of Civilization will start at 6.30pm loal time (GMT+2) and will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV and multiple broadcasters around the world.
CIB PSA World Championships, Egyptian National Museum of Civilization, Cairo.
Men’s Quarter Finals (bottom half):
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt  Diego Elias (PER) 3-1: 9-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-7 (76m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 (39m)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
Women’s Quarter-Finals (bottom half):
Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt  Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 11-4, 10-12, 11-8 (76m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-1: 11-5, 8-11, 11-7, 14-12 (44m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour