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Nouran Gohar

CIB PSA World Championships Cairo Semis: Player Reaction

It’s semi finals day at the 2021-22 CIB PSA World Championships in Cairo, as the last remaining players battle it out at the stunning National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation for a spot in the final!

Play begins at 18:30 as World No.1 Nouran Gohar goes up against the USA's Amanda Sobhy, with the victor up against the winner of the all-Egyptian clash between Nour El Tayeb and defending champion Nour El Sherbini.

In the men's draw, World No.1 Paul Coll faces 2017 winner Mohamed ElShorbagy, while the day's play ends with an enticing Cairo-derby battle between 21-year-old Mostafa Asal and reigning champion Ali Farag.

We'll be bringing reports and reactions from all the matches right here, and you can watch live on SQUASHTV and the channels of our broadcast partners

Play gets under way at 18:30 (GMT+2). If you’re unable to watch live, you can keep up with the live scores from the semi finals here.

Order of play
(All times are local GMT+2)

Nouran Gohar

Gohar overcomes stubborn Sobhy

In the day's opening match, World No.1 and 2021 runner up Nouran Gohar came through an astounding battle with World No.4 Amanda Sobhy to reach the final once again.

Ahead of the game, Cairo native Gohar was much fancied, owing in no small part to a run which had seen her win five consecutive matches against Sobhy without dropping a game.

While Sobhy is famed for her attacking instincts, she played an intelligent tactical game in the first, lifting the ball in an attempt to nullify Gohar’s devastating attacks.

This proved extremely rewarding for the American, as she deservedly took the first game 11-5, to the stunned silence of the crowd.

The anticipated Gohar response came with gusto in the second game as she levelled with a quick-fire 11-3 win. Worryingly for the smattering of Sobhy fans in the crowd, was that despite the American reading Gohar well, particularly when the Egyptian went cross-court, she was unable to keep the home favourite at bay.

At one game each, the third was crucial, and both players stepped up the intensity in a bid to capture a crucial lead. At 5-5, the game and match were delicately poised.

Somehow, the top seed was able to find yet another gear, as she rapidly sped away from Sobhy to take a vital lead with an 11-6 win.

In a thrilling fourth game, both players exchanged the lead, with Sobhy continuing to have joy when pushing Gohar to the back, while the Egyptian targeted the front.

As the game wore on, neither Gohar nor Sobhy was able to pull away. At 10-9, Gohar had the opportunity to win the match, but Sobhy was able to save the match ball.

Now, it was Sobhy’s turn to have game ball, only for an error to bring the scores to 11-11.

Sobhy was able to save another match ball with a brilliant drop with the scores at 12-11, but was unable to force her way through, as Gohar finally took the match 3-1 with a 15-13 win.

After the match, Gohar said: “It wasn’t easy for sure. I’ve played Amanda at every tournament, it has been a habit. I think she kept her best to the last and most important tournament.

“Obviously, she played really well. It was a very tough match, but it’s good to have a match like this, just before tomorrow, to get some nerves out.

“It’s the biggest occasion you can play in and, in front of a rally nice crowd like this, you want to perform really well.It comes with a bit of pressure, but I’m just glad with the way I dealt with the pressure and the conditions and everything. I’m just happy to be in a second final tomorrow.

“It’s easier said than done [to manage the expectations of a home crowd]. I was trying to remind myself that I want to play well, stick to my plan and not really think about the occasion. But you can’t help it, it comes anyway and you just have to try to refocus and know you’re not going to play your best every day, but you have to come through and that’s what world champions are made of. I was just trying to do this, and just try to think, not about playing my best, but I just want to win in the end.”

“I’m not really thinking about [my potential opponent tomorrow]. Both are going to be very tough to play tomorrow and I just want to focus on myself. El Sherbini knows what she’s doing, she’s been World Champion five times and it’s like a habit for her to play World Champs.

“El Tayeb has played some unbelievable squash and it’s not going to be easy, but I know what I’m doing and I’m going to be prepared for tomorrow.”

Result
[1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [4] Amanda Sobhy (USA) 3-1: 5-11, 11-3, 11-6, 15-13 (49m)

ElShorbagy shocks World No.1 Coll

Mohamed ElShorbagy

World No.3 and 2017 World Champion Mohamed ElShorbagy played one of the matches of the tournament to dump World No.1 Paul Coll out at the semi final stage.

With ElShorbagy enjoying a 9-3 record, but Coll having won the last two matches between the two, this match promised to be an intriguing affair.

Going into the match, ElShorbagy had looked in deadly form against fellow Alexandrian and World No.10 Fares Dessouky in his quarter final. Coll, meanwhile, had come through an exhausting 122-minute encounter with Tarek Momen to reach this stage.

There were worrying signs for the World No.1 right from the beginning, tonight. A confident ElShorbagy caught Coll out of position a number of times in opening game, with the Kiwi – who sported strapping on his right knee – struggling to react to ‘the Beast of Alexandria’s’ shots at the front.

After taking the opening game 11-4, ElShorbagy continued to play immaculate squash early on in the second. A number of lengthy rallies dominated the early stages as the players exchanged points.

Coll was able to drag ElShorbagy wider as the second game progressed, which allowed the Kiwi to move from 4-4 to 6-4 up.

More lengthy rallies followed, which appeared to favour a rejuvenated-looking World No.1, who asserted himself well around the court to bring the scores to 1-1 with an 11-8 win.

More long rallies came in the third game, which was even until a fiery ElShorbagy pulled clear to have three game balls. Incredibly, though, Coll was able to pick each one off to level and then take a 2-1 lead with a 12-10 win.

At the beginning of the fourth game, errors began to creep into ElShorbagy’s game. The former World No.1, though, showed impressive resilience to battle through a difficult spell and then go on the attack to take game 11-8 and force the match into a fifth game.

The dramatic change of fortunes seemed to give ElShorbagy a huge lift in the fifth game. The 31-year-old stepped further and further up the court as the adrenaline surged and took a commanding 5-0 lead.

Now brimming with confidence, ElShorbagy continued to balance watchful rallies with his signature brutal attacking squash, timing his attacks to perfection to seal a memorable victory with an 11-7 win, to the thunderous applause of the Cairo crowd.

Afterwards, ElShorbagy said: “I’ve been in this situation so many times in my career. I think we have a habit as human beings to have a short memory, so I needed to remind everyone who I am.

“I went to Greg [Gaultier] two months ago and told him I want to come back to who I am again, I was not happy with who I am, and we put together a plan. I don’t want to get too excited of course, I have the final tomorrow, my fifth World Championship final.

“I’m really happy to be in the final. Just a few words regarding Paul: Paul is an amazing athlete, he inspires me so much. The guy has been unbelievable for the past six months. Since he won the British Open last year, he went to another level, and I went to another level, but the wrong way!

“We haven’t played for such a long time and I’ve been waiting for a long time to get on court with him. He inspires me so much, his journey is inspirational and I hope he’s not going to be too hard on himself. I’ve been World No.1 and seeded No.1 at a World Champ and have never done it before. It’s so tough, there’s so much pressure on you when you’re seeded No.1 in a World Champ. He had so much on his plate this week, no one understands how much he had on his plate this week, except for the people who were in that position before.

“So I want to thank someone, to be honest. I want to thank his coach, Rob Owen, for such a stupid article he posted two or three days ago, if I’m honest with you. That was one of the most foolish things to do, to be honest.

“His player had so much pressure on himself this week and when I read this article, to be honest, me and my team just laughed! Because, we knew that he just put double the pressure on his player. I felt bad for [Paul] to be honest, because you don’t do that to your own player, you don’t do that when your player has so much on his plate this week.

“I felt bad for him and I knew this was going to [put] so much on him. That was one of the most stupid articles I’ve ever read and as good as he is, as a great coach, he showed that he has no experience with his player being seeded No.1 in a World Champ. So thanks to him, he gave me such an advantage in winning that fifth game, because Paul had so much in his mind in that fifth game today. So thanks Rob for the article, thanks so much for that.

“When I reached my first World Championship final, I had nothing to lose. I was so excited, I was a kid. I went through James, Darwish, a few points away from going through Ramy in the final, I had no right to be in the final, I was just a kid with big dreams.

“That’s what we have with Mostafa Asal. The exciting thing with him is that he has nothing to lose. And then you have Ali, who is so experienced. He’s probably the longest rival I’ve had in my career. We played so many great finals together, on all the big stages. He has all the experience so we have experience against youth, and when you have that it’s an exciting prospect. I can’t wait to watch them and hopefully it’s going to be an amazing match, like what Paul and myself just did. Hopefully tomorrow I can come back and play with whoever deserves to be there.”

Result
[3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [1] Paul Coll (NZL) 3-2: 11-4, 8-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7 (109m)

El Sherbini beats El Tayeb to equal Nicol David record

Nour El Sherbini

Defending World Champion Nour El Sherbini made it a joint-record eight appearances in World Championship finals as she overcame Egyptian compatriot Nour El Tayeb 3-1 to set up an enticing clash with Nouran Gohar.

El Sherbini went into the match with a dominant head-to-head-record, having won 16 matches to six for El Tayeb, though El Tayeb will have taken confidence from a hugely impressive victory over World No.3 Hania El Hammamy in the quarter-final.

Five-time World Champion El Sherbini flew into a two-game lead as she took the opening games 11-6 and 11-8.

El Tayeb appeared to be settling in the second game and sure enough was able to carry the momentum into the third. The World No.28 put El Sherbini under pressure with a clever range of shots and drew mistakes out of the defending champion.

The pair then traded points as El Sherbini looked to end the match in three, while El Tayeb sought to get a toe in the door. It was El Tayeb who eventually got her way, with the 29-year-old ending the third game with an intelligent drive down the middle onto El Sherbini’s foot.

‘The Warrior Princess,’ had the perfect reply, however, as she came out rapidly in the fourth game to take a 5-1 lead. El Tayeb began to claw her way back into the game, but by this point the El Sherbini lead was too great, and the World No.2 stormed into the final with an 11-3 win.

“Seeing Nour play yesterday, it was unbelievable squash.” El Sherbini said afterwards. “She showed everyone what a fighter she is. I’ve known her for a long time and I knew how her life had changed and what a struggle and challenge it is. Seeing her play like this is unbelievable. Every time I see her on court, I’m really proud to see her playing like this. Knocking out one of the fittest players on tour yesterday, beating her and playing long matches is amazing. She wasn’t tired today, she pushed to get everything back and I’m just happy to be through.

“I just try to relax and enjoy and don’t put any pressure on myself. I’ve been playing, not many, but a couple of big events and final events. I’ve been in this situation before and I played [Gohar] in the last World Championship and Nouran’s really good. She’s the World No.1 now and she’s achieved a lot this year. I’ll just try to relax and enjoy the day until tomorrow. I’ll be ready for it.”

When asked whether the experience of having already won multiple World Championships would give her an advantage, El Sherbini said: “Definitely, I hope so! I know what this tournament means to each of us. It means a lot to me and it definitely means a lot to her, so I’m sure it’s definitely going to get the best out of us tomorrow.”

Result
[2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 11-3 (51m)

Farag could reclaim World No.1 ranking after beating Asal in 97-minute battle

Ali Farag

Following Paul Coll's exit, World No.2 Ali Farag will have the opportunity to reclaim the World No.1 spot when he contests the 2022 final with Mohamed ElShorbagy, after coming through a brutal 97-minute duel with Mostafa Asal.

Former World No.1 Farag went into the match with a significant 11-1 head-to-head advantage over Asal, having most recently beaten the 21-year-old 3-2 in the semi final of the Houston Open.

‘The Raging Bull’ made a huge statement at the beginning of the match, racing into a 6-0 lead in game one with high-quality hitting before taking the first game 11-8.

Farag hit back in the second and went 5-1 up, before Asal narrowed the lead to 8-7. The experienced Farag, though, was unfazed and held on to take an 11-8 win of his own.

While the first two games were free flowing, the third was tight and attritional, with the game a stop-start battle that saw a number of video referee decisions.

In a bid to shake up the pattern of play, Asal came to the front more frequently. Farag, however, was able to find an answer every time and take the third game 11-8.

After a blood injury to Asal was treated between games three and four, it was the World No.4 who came out stronger, as he forced the match into a fifth game with an 11-6 win.

Farag increased the intensity in the fifth game, which caused Asal a number of problems as the 30-year-old took a 4-0 lead, capitalising on Asal errors.

8-3 down, and it appeared like Asal’s final dreams were slipping away. Write off the 21-year-old at your own peril, though. The Cairo native battled his way back to within touching distance of a famous victory, only for Farag to finally put him to the sword with an 11-9 win.

Reacting after the epic clash, Farag said: “I felt this was going to go on forever. Mostafa is a brilliant player, he has everything in the book at the age of 21.

“I’m sure we would both like to play more free-flowing squash. It was too stop-start. It’s not what we want to play and I think it’s not what the crowd wants to see.

“I think the referee did his best to keep it as free-flowing as possible. It was not enjoyable to watch, to be fair, it was too much out of rhythm, in rhythm, it was tough to concentrate. That’s why I felt edgy at the end, I couldn’t get into momentum and all credit to him, at 8-2 he never gave up. He got me edgy and I’m very relieved to see that one go into the tin.

“Of course [there’s extra incentive to win and reclaim the World No.1 spot]. But Mohamed’s never gone anywhere, I was watching and learning how he was playing. It was a masterclass of tactics. I told him that after his match and I told him he was a bit annoying in the middle of the match as well! We joked about it and he’s a brilliant squash player, very astute and a student of the game, as he likes to call it.

“To be fair, for tomorrow, I don’t care too much about the No.1 for now. It’s the final of the World Championships. I think Mohamed and I said last year that we owe it to each other to play in the final of the World Championships and now two, to make it even better!

“It’s amazing to be in another final, especially after such a tough draw for both of us, in front of our amazing home crowd, who all stayed! I wouldn’t have stayed if I wasn’t playing, I wouldn’t be watching me now!

“[Squash] is the best sport in the world. It doesn’t get any better [than squash], it’s very exciting. You have to have the skill set, the technical abilities, the tactics, the stamina and endurance. What else do you want for watching a sport?

“And you’ve got so many different characters; we’re both very feisty on court, which I think is how squash should be, but we also play with good sportsmanship. Look at this venue, whoever is at home and not experiencing this venue is missing the experience of a lifetime. I would urge everyone to come, and thank you to everyone who’s organised this and I can’t wait to be back tomorrow!”

Result
[2] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [4] Mostafa Asal (EGY) 3-2: 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 6-11, 11-9 (97m)

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