Saturday, April 13, 2024

World Squash 2023: Mostafa Asal breaks Mazen Hesham resolve

World No.3 Mostafa Asal booked his spot in the World Championship last four after claiming a dramatic 3-2 victory against World No.9 Mazen Hesham.

Asal, who also reached the 2022 last four, won 11-9, 3-11, 11-6, 5-11, 12-10 in 74 minutes as Hesham failed to capitalise on a 9-5 lead in the fifth and advance to his first semi-final.

Asal played well in fits and starts but found it tough going against an opponent attempting to reach his first World Championship semi-final. However, he ground out a tie-break victory in a scrappy deciding game to set up a clash with reigning champion Ali Farag.

“It was very difficult, Mazen is an amazing player,” said Asal, who turns 22 on Tuesday.

“I played until the last second and I was expecting to be going home, I was thinking it was going to be a nightmare birthday for me. He was playing some superb squash and he was attacking too much and my length wasn’t good in the fourth or the fifth. But I played on in the last minutes, until the last second.”

Egypt’s World No.3 Hania El Hammamy produced a devastating performance at Chicago’s Union Station to eliminate United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy as she advanced to the semi-finals.

Hania El Hammamy

El Hammamy lost out to the World No.5 when the pair met in the quarter-finals of last month’s British Open, but the 22-year-old returned with a vengeance as she dismantled Sobhy to win 11-4, 11-6, 11-5 in 32 minutes, ending hopes of an American winner in the process.

“First of all, I’m definitely happy with the way I performed and how I was able to be consistent throughout the whole match,” said El Hammamy.

“I lost to Amanda two weeks ago at the British Open. I wasn’t really happy with how I performed mentally or tactically. I came here with a plan today and I’m happy to be able to execute it well.

“I had a couple of testing rounds at the beginning of the tournament. It’s great to have challenging matches at the beginning so they can give you more confidence for the next rounds.”

El Hammamy’s opponent will be arch-rival and two-time runner-up Nouran Gohar. Gohar, whose 57-week run at World No.1 was ended by Nour El Sherbini, put in a dominant performance of her own to dispatch 2019 runner-up Nour El Tayeb.

Nouran Gohar

El Tayeb had gone seven matches without a win against Gohar coming into today’s contest and was blown away by the accuracy of her compatriot.

Gohar powered her way to an 11-5, 11-6, 11-5 victory and the 25-year-old is now one win away from appearing in a third consecutive World Championship title decider.

“Nour [El Tayeb] is a very high-quality player,” said Gohar.

“She has so much experience, so much talent, and to beat her in three is an amazing result. I’m pleased with the way I played, but I’m still not done yet. I’m just thinking a match at a time and not really about what I have done in the past few days.”

Elsewhere, Farag – who is aiming to win a fourth World Championship trophy – was superb as he nullified World No.5 Paul Coll to reach the semi-finals for the fifth time in a row.

Coll battled back after surrendering the first game, but Farag executed his game plan to perfection in the third and fourth to seal an 11-3, 5-11, 11-2, 11-4 victory.

Ali Farag

“Paul has gotten the better of me in the most recent matches we’ve had against each other,” said Farag.

“He’s made me a better player by exploiting my weaknesses. I’ve had to go back to the drawing board with Karim [coach, Darwish] on a few things. Nothing feels better than when you see that come to fruition.”

Results – Men’s Quarter-Finals Round (Top Half):
[1] Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt [9] Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-2: 11-9, 3-11, 11-6, 5-11, 12-10 (74m)
[4] Ali Farag (EGY) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-1: 11-9, 11-1, 9-11, 11-3 (34m)

Draw – Men’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half): To Be Played May 9th
[3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) v [7] Tarek Momen (EGY)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v [2] Diego Elias (PER)

Draw – Men’s Semi-Finals (Top Half): To Be Played May 10th
[1] Mostafa Asal (EGY) v [4] Ali Farag (EGY)

Women’s Quarter-Finals Round (Top Half):
[1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [6] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-5 (31m)
[3] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt [5] Amanda Sobhy (USA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-5 (32m)

Draw – Women’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half): To Be Played May 9th
[4] Joelle King (NZL) v [11] Nele Gilis (BEL)
[10] Georgina Kennedy (ENG) v [2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY)

Draw – Women’s Semi-Finals (Top Half): To Be Played May 10th
[1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) v [3] Hania El Hammamy (EGY)

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