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El Gouna International 2022 Semi-Finals: Player Reaction

It's semi-finals day on the Red Sea as the last players standing compete for a spot in tomorrow's El Gouna International final.

Play starts at 18:30 (GMT+2) with World No.1 Nouran Gohar taking on in-form Egyptian compatriot Nour El Tayeb, followed immediately by a tantalising rematch between Paul Coll and Mohamed ElShorbagy.

Then, from 20:30, there are two all-Egyptian clashes to look forward to as Hania El Hammamy plays women's World Champion Nour El Sherbini and Mostafa Asal goes up against men's World Champion and newly-re-crowned World No.1 Ali Farag.

We'll be bringing you the players' reactions as they happen RIGHT HERE, while all the action will be shown on SQUASHTV and the channels of our broadcast partners.

You can keep up with the live scores here.

You can also follow updates from the event on our social channels: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

Order of Play

Nouran Gohar celebrates

Devastating Gohar finish sees World No.1 into final

World No.1 Nouran Gohar made her third consecutive El Gouna International as she beat a tenacious Nour El Tayeb 3-1.

El Tayeb started the first game well, only for some uncharacteristic mistakes to allow Gohar to pull away and take a 1-0 lead with an 11-7 win.

El Tayeb seemed to have found the perfect response as she took a 5-1 lead in game two, before Gohar began dominating the centre as she reeled in her compatriot to level at 6-6. El Tayeb, though, impressed as she began attacking the ball earlier and took a 10-8 lead, only for Gohar to save both game balls before taking the game 13-11.

Once again, it was El Tayeb who made the stronger start in game three. This time, however, she was able to push on, playing some delightfully deceptive attacking shots to pull a game back with an 11-4 win.

It was Gohar’s turn to make a strong start in game four, and the World No.1 did not let up, with her usual strong hitting paired with excellent retrieving delivering the match with a dominant 11-1 win.

Afterwards, Gohar said: “It was quite a different feeling getting into this match. For some reason, I felt I was the underdog even though I’m the No.1 seed and the World No.1.

“Nour, since I was a junior, has been a role model for us and she’s one of the best and she keeps on being the example, having a baby and playing like this! I think, not just me but the whole tour thinks she’s playing better than before.

“Honestly, I was really excited for the match. It’s been so long since I felt I was challenged, in a way, mentally more than anything, so I was really excited for this match and I was really excited for the challenge. I knew it was going to be very challenging. I hope the crowd enjoyed the match!

“It’s one of our favourite tournaments, this one. Sometimes they save the best for the end and El Gouna is this and [Amr] Mansi's been doing an incredible job for 10 years now. I’ve lost two finals and hopefully tomorrow it’s third time lucky and I can get this title.”

[1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 13-11, 4-11, 11-1 (65m)

Dramatic end to match sees Coll through to final

Paul Coll

Paul Coll avenged his defeat to Mohamed ElShorbagy a fortnight ago in the World Championship in odd circumstances as the Kiwi won 3-2 in a match that ended by two conduct strokes against ElShorbagy for dissent.

In a cagey opening game, that was played at a slower pace as the pair weighed each other up, ElShorbagy took a 5-1 lead, before Coll brought it back to 9-9. ElShorbagy was able to pull away once again to take the game 11-9.

In a brutal 30-minute second game, played in hot conditions by the Red Sea, neither man was able to break away, as Paul Coll edged a cat-and-mouse affair to level with an 11-9 win.

ElShorbagy struggled in the early phases of the third game, before settling as the ball began to soften to draw level at 5-5. From here they traded points, reaching 9-9 once again. In a fractious end to the game, this time it was ElShorbagy’s turn to pull away and take the game 11-9 to claim a 2-1 lead.

Any hope of a win in four for ElShorbagy was quickly ended by Coll, who quickly took the fourth game 11-1 to take the match into a fifth.

ElShorbagy, who took an injury break after game four, started strongly in the decider, powering around court as he took the first three points.

Coll, however, was able to recover and take a 6-5 lead as he found his range at the perfect moment. With Coll 9-6 up, the match then finished in acrimonious circumstances. ElShorbagy disagreed vehemently with a video referee stroke decision, with his continued protestations seeing a first and then, as he continued to argue with referee Andrea Santamaria, a second conduct stroke awarded against the Egyptian, handing what up until then had been an entertaining match to Coll.

After the match, Coll said: “It’s not great to end a good battle like that. We were going hard for over 100 minutes again and it’s a shame for a match to end like that. I don’t really know what to say. It’s a shame. We’re pretty close off court and it’s a shame the match ended like this. It was a good battle.

“[The defeat] was very disappointing for me at the World Champs. I was really targeting that and Mohamed found his form again and he’s such a tough competitor. He’s been around the circuit for who knows how long and came out and found his groove again, and tonight we had a huge battle again, so I think he’s found his form again and he’s going to be a danger for, hopefully not too many years, but he’s proved that he’s truly found his groove again.

“We’re playing in 30+ degrees and as hard as that is physically, mentally it’s very hard. Everyone’s using ice between games to cool down and try to stay calm and mentally focused in such hot temperatures.

“Another Egyptian [in the final], I’m sure it’s going to be a big battle between those two, they played as well in the World Championships and had 90+ minutes there, so I’m hoping for 100+minutes from them tonight!”

On the comments made at the World Championships by ElShorbagy about Coll’s coach, Rob Owen, he said: “I still haven’t heard them.

“I just try to keep myself out of that stuff, I didn’t even read Rob’s article, so I don’t really know what Rob said. I’ve only heard through the grapevine what Mo said and Rob wasn’t too bothered by it. It’s just Mo’s opinion, he’s a very upfront guy, we’ll talk about it on and off court, so it didn’t bother me at all, I’ve moved on.”

[1] Paul Coll (NZL) bt [3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-1, 11-6 (109m)

Excellent El Hammamy downs defending champ El Sherbini

Hania El Hammamy

World No.3 Hania El Hammamy reached her first El Gouna International final as she knocked out defending champion and World No.2 Nour El Sherbini in an entertaining 3-1 win.

Going into tonight’s match, El Sherbini held a 5-3 head-to-head advantage over her Egyptian compatriot. El Hammamy, though, will have taken confidence from her 3-2 win in the pair’s last meeting, which came in the semi-final of this year’s Windy City Open.

El Hammamy made a perfect start to the match, taking the first game 11-6 with her impeccable movement proving the difference, before El Sherbini hit back in the second to level with an 11-5 win.

In a thrilling third game, both players went all out. El Hammamy initially had the better of the game and took a 9-6 lead. El Sherbini, however, was able to recover and force the game into a tie break at 10-10.

After seeing a game ball go at 12-11, El Hammamy was able to convert the next as she took the third game 14-12 with a perfect attacking boast.

After the morale-boosting win in the third, El Hammamy made a lightning start to the fourth game, flying into a 6-0 lead with winner after winner against a shell-shocked El Sherbini. Although ‘the Warrior Princess’ was able to chip away some of El Hammamy’s points, the lead proved too great and El Hammamy was able to close out the match with an 11-6 win.

“It definitely feels amazing, being able to beat the six-time World Champion,” El Hammamy said afterwards.

“It’s something that I’m always proud of. Playing against Nour is definitely tricky, she’s the best of the best to be honest. I always feel like I have a privilege and it’s just a pleasure for me to be playing on court with her. Every time I step on court with her, I just try to enjoy my squash and enjoy every game with her. Playing against her makes me so happy and makes me want to play my best because if I’m not bringing my ‘A Game’ I’m not able to beat her, so definitely happy with that win!

“She’s World No.2, but she’s the World Champion, so definitely I have to prepare differently and prepare myself mentally well. I could be very prepared physically and that was the case for me last week in the World Championship, so I tried as much as I can to release that pressure and bring the best out of me.

“I think it was very important [to win the third game after dropping the second]. The third game was very crucial. I had to be very focused to try and get the third because I think if she had got the third she would have grown in confidence and even stronger than she is already, so I had to be very focused and just keep digging in the third. I’m really glad I managed to do that.

“Another tough match [against Gohar tomorrow]. I need to recover really well and have a good night’s sleep and eat well. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

[3] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt [2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 5-11, 14-12, 11-6 (67m)

Calm Asal performance stuns Farag

Mostafa Asal

World No.4 Mostafa Asal produced an assured, almost low-key, performance to stun World Champion Ali Farag and reach the final.

Newly-crowned World No.1 Farag came into the match the favourite, due in no small part to his dominant 11-1 record against Asal and having won the last five meetings.

Asal made perfect start in his bid to overturn Farag’s advantage, taking the opening game 11-4 in 14 minutes, with Farag unable to force the 21-year-old, who had spent a gruelling 214 minutes on court to reach tonight’s match, to exert himself too much.

The World No.1 attempted to take the ball earlier in the second, but was thwarted by intelligent and controlled hitting from ‘the Raging Bull,’ who took a commanding 2-0 lead with an 11-6 win.

Farag went short in third, leading to some exciting high-tempo squash that put Farag’s reactions and Asal’s famed court coverage to the test. The tactic paid off for the 30-year-old, as he pulled a game back with an 11-6 win.

In the fourth, it was the turn of Asal to attack the front, as the World No.4 continued to mix his physical dominance with tactical nous, earning six match balls as he stormed to a 10-4 lead. Farag overturned two, but in the end the lead proved too great, as Asal took the game 11-6 and the match 3-1.

Afterwards, Asal said: “I want to thank Ali for a good match and congratulate him for World No.1. The achievement this week, he’s definitely going to be fatigued today, mentally and everything. I’m so happy and glad that I did it today, all my family and coaches who believe in me, my physio who’s doing an amazing job with me, he’s doing three sessions a day with me in recovery. I’m so happy and glad to have the win today.

“I’m always losing to Ali, I lost 11 times to Ali and it’s been tough. But today, I stuck to the plan, my head was inside the court and I didn’t argue or do any stuff if the decision was bad or wrong or good. I’m happy with my strategies today and I want to thank everyone who came today, all my friends from Cairo!

“Paul is an old rival. We setup good clashes in Egypt and his performances have been unbelievable over the last couple of tournaments and he was World No.1 two days ago. It’s going to be a tough match but with this crowd we’re going to get the tournament on Egyptian soil!

“For sure, the crowd is going to be all over the place tomorrow and boost my confidence and my performance.”

[4] Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt [2] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-1: 11-4, 11-6, 6-11, 11-6 (69m)

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