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The Stunning Glass Court


The quarter-finals of the El Gouna International 2022 get underway today, as the remaining players vie for a spot in the semis.

Play gets underway at 18:45 (GMT+2) with World No.1 Nouran Gohar taking on England No.1 and World No.6 Sarah-Jane Perry. Gohar has won the previous seven encounters between the two, with Perry’s two wins coming back in 2014 at the Windy City Open and CIMB Malaysian Open.

Men’s World No.1 Paul Coll is next on court. He faces Tarek Momen for a place in the final four. The two played out an epic 122-minute battle at the CIB PSA World Championships Cairo 2022 just two weeks ago. Will Momen avenge that narrow defeat tonight?

Elsewhere, Belgium’s Tinne Gilis, who downed No.4 seed Amanda Sobhy in round two, faces former World No.3 Nour El Tayeb for a place in her first Platinum event semi-final, while an all-Egyptian battle between World Championship runner-up Mohamed ElShorbagy and Fares Dessouky brings the day's play to an end.

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Order of play

Gohar beats the heat and Perry to progress

World No.1 Nouran Gohar recorded her seventh consecutive win over England’s World No.6 Sarah-Jane Perry to reach the semi-finals.

Gohar has looked back to her best after the disappointment of a World Championship final defeat last week, and today, the 24-year-old’s touch was as red-hot as the El Gouna court.

Under challenging conditions, Gohar adjusted well, playing a consistent game alongside some excellent cross-court shots while Perry struggled for timing and to judge the weight of shot.

After dropping the first game 11-4, Perry looked more competitive in the second. It was to little avail, though, as Gohar put in brutal combinations to accelerate away from 7-5 to 11-5.

After applying ice to her head between games two and three, Perry again looked strong at the beginning of the third game. Once again, though, she was unable to consistently trouble Gohar, and the top seed was able to end the match in 32 minutes with another 11-5.

Reacting afterwards, Gohar said: “I always like to play in warm, hot conditions. It really suits my game, but honestly that was really warm for me though! So I can’t imagine for other players how bad it is, because it’s usually the end of April. These 30 days make a big difference! I can’t really complain about it because if it suits anyone, it suits me more, so I’m happy with that.

“It was very different conditions [compared to the last match against Perry, at the Black Ball Open]. It was really cold that time in Cairo, and she was really enjoying it out there. She won [Black Ball] before, so definitely she likes the court.

“I played well, but I had to adapt. I won’t say what I changed because that’s something for me! But I definitely took something from the game. She was playing really well, it was 3-0 but very close. I know SJ is very attacking and very tricky as well. She can be down but fight and win big titles when 2-0 down, so I wasn’t taking it easy at all. Playing against her is one of the hardest quarter-finals you can play. I was sure it wasn’t going to be an easy match and I’m really happy with the way I played today.

“I’m honestly not a big fan of rest days! I just like to kick off the tournament and get it done. But it helps with the long seasons, which we’ve had. I was looking at my tournaments and I’ve played 12 this year, which has never happened before. My body starts to feel it a bit and I’m just happy to be playing in one of the last tournaments of the year and I want to perform my best at the end.”

[1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [6] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 11-5 (32m)

Coll beats Momen in World Championship rematch

Paul Coll (left)

2021 runner up and current World No.1 Paul Coll reached his second El Gouna International semi-final after an assured performance put Egypt’s World No.6 Tarek Momen to the sword.

While Coll had won their last six meetings, their last match – just 12 days ago in the CIB PSA World Championships Cairo quarter-final – was a nail-biter that was decided 11-9 in the fifth.

It initially looked like it would be more of the same today, as both looked in good touch with the scores level at 3-3 in game one. Coll, though, was able to outmanoeuvre the Egyptian to open up a lead before taking a one-game lead with an 11-4 win.

In a largely attritional second game, each player pushed hard as the scores crept to 9-9. With the scores level, both men played some exciting and expansive shots, before Coll – who was excellent going short all evening – was able to take a 2-0 lead after a thrilling duel at the front of the court.

Despite the 2-0 lead, Coll would have been under no illusions about the danger Momen presented, having seen the same score wiped out by ‘the Viper’ two weeks ago in Cairo.

After trailing for much of the third game, Coll was able to ensure that the Momen comeback was snuffed out as he reeled the Egyptian in before finishing the match in three games with an 11-7 win.

Afterwards, Coll said: “I had to believe in my game and that what I did last week was going to be the right tactic still and not try to change anything. Last week was a brutal match, I was actually trying for 123 minutes this match!

“No, but it was a great battle last week and a great battle this week. The scorelines were tight, still long and tough conditions. I always enjoy playing Tarek, we always have great battles and we’ve had some huge ones in the past. I’m just happy not to have smashed the body after tonight!

“It wasn’t necessarily [about attacking the forehand side]. It was just about executing the game plan and trying to think more clearly this week. There was a lot of pressure on me last week and I think I strayed away from my game plans a couple of times, but I’m feeling good and the body’s feeling fresh and physically good.

“Tonight the mind felt great, which is 100 percent of it. I [have been] really looking forward to it this week and another rest day tomorrow to enjoy beautiful Gouna and I’m looking forward to the next one.”

[1] Paul Coll (NZL) bt [6] Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-9, 11-7 (74m)

Devastating El Tayeb swats Gilis aside

Nour El Tayeb

World No.13 Tinne Gilis’ impressive run in El Gouna was brought to an end in ruthless fashion by former World No.3 Nour El Tayeb, who produced a squash masterclass to beat the Belgian 3-0 in 26 minutes and set up a semi-final against World No.1 Nouran Gohar.

While Gilis had impressed in downing World No.4 Amanda Sobhy in the second round, today she had no answer to a stunning El Tayeb, who looks well and truly back to her devastating best after returning to the tour.

El Tayeb, who since returning has been ascending the rankings at breakneck speed, set the tone for the match as she brushed the 24-year-old aside in the first game 11-1.

Gilis was able to put up more of a fight afterwards, but in truth never looked like laying a glove on the current World No.28, whose accuracy, power and tactical acumen secured the game with an 11-5 win in the second and an 11-3 in the third.

“I’m hoping to be better than I was, because I didn’t want to come back just to be like I was before I stopped,” El Tayeb said afterwards. “I feel I’m getting better. Maybe my consistency still is the thing I’m not so sure about, but I was happy to have a rest day yesterday. I feel like I needed that after three hard games. I’m very happy to be in the semi-final once again. I’m very much looking forward to being hopefully back in the top four of the world.

“I’m happy to be playing against the top three. It’s exciting to test myself against them. Obviously I’m not just looking to test myself, I want to win. But I’m excited to have another rest day, actually, I think this match took a lot of preparation and I think the World No.1 needs the same time to prepare. Hopefully I’ll be ready to go again on Thursday.”

On playing her first tournament without her 10-month-old daughter Farida, she said: “I’m sure all the mothers know I’m getting more sleep and more time to go and get coffee and to do a lot of things I don’t have time to do. I’m missing her, but I’m happy I’m still in the tournament and hopefully I can stay here a few days more.”

Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Tinne Gilis (BEL) 3-0: 11-1, 11-5, 11-3 (26m)

Electric ElShorbagy downs Dessouky

Mohamed ElShorbagy

Resurgent World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy put in his second crushing performance in two weeks against Egyptian compatriot Fares Dessouky to go into another semi-final showdown with World No.1 Paul Coll.

ElShorbagy, who is yet to drop a game in El Gouna, swept Dessouky aside 3-0 in the World Championships in Cairo, and put in another excellent display tonight.

The 31-year-old combined his classic power with perfect accuracy and remarkable tenacity to punish Dessouky when opportunities presented themselves, while also denying the World No.10 whenever he attempted to capitalise on good positions.

ElShorbagy took the opening game 11-7, before opening up a commanding lead by winning the second by the same scoreline.

At 7-4 up in the third and with the momentum, Dessouky looked well-positioned to claw his way back into the match. The 27-year-old failed to capitalise, however, and ElShorbagy was able to end the match in three with an 11-8 win.

Afterwards, ElShorbagy said: “The temperature is horrible, I have to say. I’ve never played in such hot conditions like that in my life. My socks are burning under my shoes! But these are the conditions that all the players have to deal with here. I’m happy to get through to another semi and really looking forward to having a rest day tomorrow and enjoying El Gouna to be honest.

“Honestly, I feel like anyone who says that Paul [Coll] was tired against me in the semi-final [of the World Championship] doesn’t have any experience whatsoever. When you’re World No.1 you’re the fittest player on tour. How many matches did I play like that when I was World No.1?

“If someone says that Paul maybe was shaky in the semis with the pressure of being seeded No.1 and World No.1, I understand that. Because he definitely had that. I get it, Paul was definitely not at his best at the World Champs. We even practiced together a couple of times and after the second practice I asked him, out of curiosity, how he felt being seeded No.1 and World No.1 in a World Champs, because believe me, probably the only two players on tour who understand the feeling are Ali [Farag] and myself.

“I asked Ali that question when he was World No.1 and seeded No.1. It was interesting to hear his thoughts and everything he felt during that week is exactly how I used to feel. The pressure, you feel like you’re carrying 20 kilograms over your head.

“If someone says he was a bit shaky because of this, I completely get it, to be honest. But squash players are the fittest players in world sports and he and I had a massive 3-2 in the semi-final.

“The fifth game, he had a lot on his mind and I took advantage of that, 100 percent. This week, in El Gouna, he doesn’t carry as much pressure. He’s playing more fluidly, moving much smoother on court. You can see that he’s much more accurate taking the ball short when he wants to, so it’s going to be a big battle. I miss playing back-to-back big matches like this. I haven’t had it in ages and it will be good to have a go at each other another time in the same week.”

[3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [8] Fares Dessouky (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-7, 11-8 (52m)

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