Three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour and defending champion Gregory Gaultier both triumphed in their last eight clashes at the 2016 Wadi Degla PSA Men’s World Championship.
But sadly the crowd in Cairo will be denied a semi-final between Ashour and the Frenchman after Gaultier was forced to withdraw from the event due to injury.
Ashour – who lifted the sport’s most illustrious title in 2008, 2012 and 2014 – dispatched fellow Egyptian Fares Dessouky in straight games to move to within one win of a fifth World Championship final.
The maverick Egyptian stormed to a one-game lead, before coming out on top of an intense tie-break by a 17-15 margin to put one foot in the semi-final. Both players traded a series of high-octane blows until, with Ashour 10-8 up, an emotional Dessouky reacted to a referee decision by inexplicably conceding the match and walking off court to hand the win to Ashour.
“That was very stressful, definitely,” said Ashour.
“I was relaxed but I wasn’t there, I couldn’t find it. He was physical, I got into his physical game and things weren’t going my way in my short game. When things happen like that I find it a challenge.
“I wouldn’t say I enjoy it, but I find it a challenge because life is not fun, it’s supposed to be a burden. When things happen that way I accept it and I have to go through it.”
Meanwhile, Gaultier went through to the semi-finals after overcoming World No.11 Tarek Momen to become the only non-Egyptian semi-finalist before injury forced him to quit the event.
The charismatic ‘French General’ put in a masterclass of a performance in the opening two games as he mixed up the pace well and utilised all four corners of the court to power into a 2-0 lead, but he surrendered three match balls in game three after a litany of errors to give Momen a lifeline.
A series of high-quality rallies in the fourth lit up the Wadi Degla club as the match drew to a nail-biting finale, with Gaultier managing to reassert himself on proceedings to edge out an 11-5, 11-5, 14-16, 11-8 triumph.
“He’s a really skilful player, he’s very dangerous, talented and he can put the ball away at any time,” said Gaultier.
“If you don’t pay attention, you lose the big points, that’s what happened on the game balls. I didn’t play tight enough and I rushed myself. He’s talented and a hard worker.
“You have to remember that at the end of the day, in any kind of country, it’s two lions battling as hard as possible on the same territory. There’s only one winner coming out, but today I felt it was really tough.”
Results – Quarter-Final (Bottom Half): 2016 PSA Men's World Squash Championship
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt  Fares Dessouky (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 17-15, 10-8 retired (67m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-1: 11-5, 11-5, 14-16, 11-8 (73m)
Draw – Semi-Final
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
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