In the all-Egyptian battle between Marwan ElShorbagy and Fares Dessouki it was 21-year-old Dessouki who booked his place in the semi-finals of a PSA World Series tournament for the first time in his career as he came through after 92-minutes to reach the last four of the El Gouna International.
After failing to put two wins together on the PSA World Tour in 2016 to date Dessouki returned to form in his home country to defeat Daryl Selby and Karim Abdel Gawad to reach the quarters and against ElShorbaby the opening three games were played a a high quality level, with both players finding great length and variation in their play with intense rallies and outright winner dominating the play.
It was ElShorbagy who edged the first two, coming through tense tie-breakers in both games, before Dessouki got himself on the scoreboard to set top a fourth game during which the the quality that went before was marred as the action descended into utter chaos with the referees called into action time and time again in what was a scrappy and ugly period of play.
With tensions high and both men giving everything in their means to get each and every point the referees were forced to make 25 decisions in the fourth game alone, with never more than two rallies coming back-to-back without the trio in charge being called into action. ElShorbagy found himself with three match ball opportunities but errors and strokes kept Dessouki’s hopes alive and he then managed to sneak it to take the match into a fifth.
The scrappy nature continued, and while the pair showed some signs of returning to the free-flowing quality action that was the mainstay of the opening three games, it was the referees who again were the biggest factor as desperation accompanied every point. They traded back-and-forth until 10-8 when back-to-back no lets handed ElShorbagy match ball at 10-8 but the Grasshopper Cup champion struck the tin with his first opportunity and again at 10-9 to lead it into a fourth tie-break.
A stroke then handed Dessouki match-ball and he converted at the first opportunity to reach his firs ever World Series semi-final.
“I am so happy I came back from 2-0 down to win that match,” said Dessouki.
“It was very tough mentally and physically. Marwan had a massive tournament last week – beating Gregory in an amazing final – so i knew it would be a very tough match.
“This is my first time to reach a quarterfinal here in El Gouna and the first semi-final of my life in front of this amazing crowd.”
Fares Dessouki (EGY) bt Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 10-12, 11-13, 11-3, 14-12, 12-10 (92m)