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The World No.1 gets mental

US Open Semi-finals - As It Happens

It’s semi-finals night at the 2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open where it’s all to play for with a place in the final of the second PSA World Series tournament of the season at stake.

There’s huge Road to Dubai ranking points on the line for all players as well, adding even more to what promises to be an electric night of action.

Here’s the schedule:

[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v [5] Raneem El Welily (EGY)
[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v James Willstrop (ENG)
[7] Amanda Sobhy (USA) v [6] Camille Serme (FRA)
[4] Nick Matthew (ENG) v [5] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)

Nour El Sherbini celebrates and important win

El Sherbini Secures Final Spot

The opening match of the night saw World No.1 Nour El Sherbini overcome Raneem El Welily 3-1 to book a place in the final and earn revenge for her defeat to the former World No.1 in the final of last month’s Al Ahram Open.

It was El Welily – the 27-year-old who downed Nicol David in the match of the tournament so far to reach the semi-finals – who started the stronger, using her limitless attacking talents to take the opening game 11-8 in relatively straight forward manner.

But the match was flipped upside down in the second when El Sherbini began to find her rhythm and from then on she went from strength to strength, running out an 8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-3 winner.

“It was a really hard match from the start,” said El Sherbini.

“Raneem beat me a few weeks ago in Al Ahram and she has been playing well the whole week and is in top form – so I didn’t expect that I would win today.

“But I’m really happy with my performance. I’m getting better every match and I’m happy to be back in the final of the US Open once again. Hopefully this time I can take the title.”

[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [5] Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-1: 8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-3 (37m)

Mo gets some air

ElShorbagy Eliminates Willstrop In 3

World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy halted the run of a resurgent James Willstrop – the 33-year-old Englishman who downed Omar Mosaad in the first round here in Philadelphia in a return to his best form – to secure his place in the final of the 2016 U.S. Open.

ElShorbagy came close to exiting the event at the first hurdle, scraping through against Cesar Salazar 3-2 having faced two match balls, but has gone from strength to strength since then and put in the best performance of his season to dat as he dealt with everything Willstrop threw at him in a display of defensive excellence.

Willstrop picked up where he left off to reach the semi-final, playing with variation in height and pace before hitting what should have been outright winners, but ElShorbagy showed an aspect of his game that is normally overlooked as he turned defence into attack, returning shots with abandon before executing inch perfect winners of all kinds to secure a 3-0 win that belied the quality and competitiveness of the encounter that saw them engaged in rally after rally of the highest quality.

“Playing the first round I thought I was already going back home,” said ElShorbagy.

“Next minute I’m into the US Open final. When you experience moments like this you feel very, very lucky. I’m so happy to be back into the final here and I’m really looking forward to the final now.

“Today I had to play my best squash and really bring out my A-game – he’s been playing so well this week. How he’s got back to the form he is in after his injury shows the great champion he is and it has been inspiration to watch.

“But I’m here to compete and challenge for titles. I hate losing and gave it everything today to get into the final.”

[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 13-11 (56m)

Camille Serme produced a performance of note

Serme Secures First US Open Final Appearance

France’s Camille Serme will compete in her first major final since winning the iconic British Open in 2015 after she produced a performance on real note to defeat home favourite and World No.6 Amanda Sobhy in the semi-finals of the 2016 US Open in Philadelphia.

Serme came through a huge, mentally challenge five-game battle with England’s Laura Massaro – the 2015 champion – and she showed the characteristic of a champion to back up from that performance and put together another display packed with pinpoint accuracy and tactical precision to thwart the aggressive attacking play of Sobhy.

The 27-year-old came out firing, attacking and controlling the T to take time away from Sobhy and prevent the dangerous left-hander from utilising he array of attacking shots and she kept it up to take the second and secure a commanding position in the match. Serme then surged ahead, courtesy of a series of absolutely sublime winners off her backhand, to hold match point in the third, only to see Sobhy claw back and take the game.

It was the American who then appeared to have momentum on her side as she opened up an early lead in the fourth, but Serme marched back as Sobhy ran out of steam – eventually falling 11-6, 11-9, 10-12, 11-5.

“I’m so happy, I can’t believe it,” said Serme.

“When you lost a match ball it isn’t easy to re-group and stay focused – I’m so glad I could do it.

“The tactic was to get in front of her and not let he play her shots. She hits the ball so hard and today she was using her lob to make it difficult for me but I wanted to make it more physical, and make the rallies long, to try and tire her out.

“I’m just so, so happy to make it to the final.”

[6] Camille Serme (FRA) bt [7] Amanda Sobhy (USA) 3-1: 11-6, 11-9, 10-12, 11-5 (42m)

The Wolf roars

Matthew Sets Up Showdown With ElShorbagy After Thriller

England’s three-time World Champion Nick Matthew and World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy will renew their rivalry in the final of the 2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open after securing their place in the title-decider courtesy of two outstanding performances during semi-finals night at Philadelphia’s Drexel University.

After producing the performance of the tournament so far to outclass World No.6 Ali Farag in the quarters Matthew, the 36-year-old from Sheffield, displayed the type of tenacious never-say-die attitude that has epitomised his career as he came through a nail-biting five-game battle with Karim Abdel Gawad – the World No.4 who won the Al Ahram Open last month.

In a highly competitive battle that went all the way to a fifth game tie-break it was Matthew who came through 11-4, 7-11, 16-14, 3-11, 12-10 to set up a 19th meeting, and a 7th title-decider, with ElShorbagy.

“I’ve lost here in the semis the last few years so I was really motivated to try and make the final – I don’t know how many more times I’ll be able to play at the US Open so I wanted to do my best and leave it all on there,” said Matthew.

“I was digging in and on the back foot a lot. He nullified a lot of my strengths – I’m proud of how I managed to problem solve and come through. I tried to start the fifth as well as possible and that put me in a good position.

“Mohamed is a great fighter,” added Matthew. “He’s already surpassed the likes of Ramy (Ashour), Greg (Gaultier) and myself, in terms of being World No.1 and top of the rankings, and he’s insatiable so I know I’m going to have to be at my best tomorrow.

“But I’m just thrilled to be here, in the US Open final, so I will come back tomorrow and do my best and play hard and fair.”

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