Follow us here for reports and reaction from Dubai Opera as the second day of the season-ending PSA Dubai World Series Finals gets under way.
After shock defeats on the opening day of action, World Champions Karim Abdel Gawad and Nour El Sherbini need to win to keep their title challenges alive in Group A of the Men’s event and Group B of the Women’s event, respectively.
Gawad lines up against 2010 finalist Nick Matthew, while El Sherbini must add to her seven-game win streak against the legendary Nicol David if she is to stay in the tournament.
Gawad sits third in Group A, with the top two players, Marwan ElShorbagy and Simon Rösner facing each other today, while defending champion Laura Massaro takes on compatriot Sarah-Jane Perry in the other Women’s Group B fixture.
Last year’s Men’s champion Gregory Gaultier saw his 27-match unbeaten run come to an end to Egypt’s Ali Farag yesterday and he will try to bounce back against former World No.1 James Willstrop.
Farag takes on World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy in Group B’s other fixture.
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Here are the groups as they stand at the start of play:
Men's Group A
Men's Group B
Women's Group A
Women's Group B
Order of Play for SQUASHTV & Eurosport Player
(All times are local GMT+4)
15:00  Camille Serme (FRA) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
15:45  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v  Nick Matthew (ENG)
16:45  Raneem El Welily (EGY) v  Alison Waters (ENG)
17:30  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
21:30  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Nicol David (MAS)
22:15  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v  James Willstrop (ENG)
23:15  Laura Massaro (ENG) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
00:00  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
Serme Comes Through Huge Battle with Gohar
French World No.3 Camille Serme made it two wins out of two in Group A of the Women’s event after she prevailed in a thriller with World Junior Champion Nouran Gohar in Dubai Opera.
Both players had claimed wins on day one, with Serme beating England’s Alison Waters and Gohar getting the better of World Championship runner-up Raneem El Welily.
And it was Serme who moved clear at the top of the group after she flew out of the traps to take the opening game before claiming two match balls in the second, with her attacking style of play seeing her punish 19-year-old Gohar on the volley.
A determined Gohar forced a tie-break and recovered from two further match balls down to take the match into a dramatic third game.
Pure #powerrr from
NouranGohar</a>!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/squashindubai?src=hash">#squashindubai</a> <a href="https://t.co/EFoLo1dLhW">pic.twitter.com/EFoLo1dLhW</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) June 7, 2017
Serme looked to have squandered the chance to win after Gohar took the opportunity to move three match balls up, but a spirited fightback from the 28-year-old from France saw her take the fixture to another tie-break.
Both players failed to convert further match balls, until a sumptuous shot from Serme saw her feather a drop into the front left corner to take it at the sixth attempt and she will take on El Welily in her next fixture as she bids to seal her semi-final berth.
“I’m very happy, I saw myself winning, then losing, then winning again, so anything could have happened,” said Serme.
“When I play against Nouran I have a specific tactical plan and I was really happy with it and tried to really stick to it. In the first game it worked really well and she gave me a few opportunities as well to hit my shots.
“In the second game, she played better and even though I had match balls I knew it was going to be hard until the very last point. She fought very well and very hard.
“I guess we’ll know more about what’s going to happen after the second group match, but it’s already better than last year, last year I only won one match, so it’s positive and I’m going to give it everything tomorrow.
“Raneem is one of the toughest on the Tour for me. I’ve only beaten her three of four times and we always have big battles, so I’m going to give it all. I guess I can try to be more relaxed, but I still want to see if I can win all three matches.”
Gohar said: “It was a great battle and it was a tough match. I wasn’t really up to it, but all credit to her, she was really alert and taking everything short, so it was really important that she got the first game.
“The good thing about the group matches is even if you lose, you still have a match to play, so I’m going to recover well and play my best tomorrow.”
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt  Nouran Gohar (EGY) 2-1: 11-6, 12-14, 14-12 (50m)
Impressive Gawad Defeats Matthew
Karim Abdel Gawad (right) v Nick Matthew (left)
2010 finalist Nick Matthew fell to a second straight defeat after ‘The Wolf’ fell to World No.2 Karim Abdel Gawad.
Matthew lost out to Egypt’s Marwan ElShorbagy on day one and failed to really get going against an impressive Gawad, who was clinical and accurate throughout the 21-minute contest.
Gawad also lost on the opening day, to Germany’s Simon Rösner, but his tendency to start slowly never reared its head as he took the win in two games to stay in with a chance of qualifying for the knockout semi-finals.
“I’m very pleased to get a 2-0 win today against one of the sport’s legends,” said Gawad.
“Nick is a really tough player to play in a best of three and he is one of the most experienced the players on the Tour.
“It’s really important to win these kinds of matches because it gives you a chance to qualify. It’s my first ever experience here, I’m still learning a lot and hopefully tomorrow it will be a good day.
“Either way I have to win against Marwan [ElShorbagy], so I don’t have to put too much pressure on myself. I’m just going to go on court and try to enjoy it and play my best. I’ve never played best of three games before, I’ve never played group matches before.
“I lost the match yesterday, so it’s really hard to get over the disappointment and stay strong. It’s a totally different experience.”
Matthew admitted that Gawad was just too good on the day, saying: “He's known as a slow starter, but today he was totally different. I tried various tactics to counter him, but he was too good.
“I had high hopes this year. I came in much better shape and I peaked for the season at the British Open and was maybe trying to hang on to that form. It felt like the body and mind was maybe ready for a rest. I didn't want to be in that position where the last match had nothing to play.
“I’ll try to play my best tomorrow and take at least a happier memory into the summer. “
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt  Nick Matthew (ENG) 2-0: 11-7, 11-6 (21m)
El Welily Holds Off Stern Waters Test
World Championship runner-up Raneem El Welily claimed her first win of the tournament courtesy of a testing 2-0 victory over England’s Alison Waters.
Following a defeat to World Junior Champion Nouran Gohar on day one which let her bottom of the group, El Welily came out on top in a tight first game, which saw Waters push the World No.2 all the way to a tie-break, which she took 16-14 after both players had game ball opportunities.
Waters had pushed Group A leader Camille Serme hard in her previous match and despite hitting a number of winners to recover from a 5-0 deficit, she ultimately fell in the second game as well as El Welily sealed the win to move up to second in the group.
El Welily – a runner-up last year – will face Serme tomorrow as she looks to earn her place in the knockout semi-finals and beyond, while Waters will play Gohar.
“I’m happy to win today, it was a very close first game, but I’m very happy that I managed to close that first one because I don’t think I would have been able to play a third game,” said El Welily.
“I think I started strongly with a couple of good shots, but sadly I took the lead and then lost it again, as usual. I’m happy that I managed to regroup after she got it back to 5-4 and I had to be as sharp as I could.
“She’s [Camille] definitely playing her best squash, she’s the one that’s most prepared to win this, but I’m going to try and dight as much as I can.”
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Alison Waters (ENG) 2-0: 16-14, 11-7 (26m)
ElShorbagy Beats Rösner to Move Step Closer to Qualification
Simon Rösner (left) v Marwan ElShorbagy (right)
World No.7 Marwan ElShorbagy claimed his second successive win after he defeated Gemany’s Simon Rösner to go top of Group A in the Men’s tournament.
The error count proved to be one of the big differences between the two in the opening game as Rösner made five unforced errors to ElShorbagy’s one, with a clinical performance form ElShorbagy seeing him take game one 11-8.
A dramatic improvement in the second game from Rösner saw the German No.1 begin to hit the corners regularly to draw level, however he couldn’t keep it up in the third game as ElShorbagy closed it out to move to within one win of a semi-final appearance at his first ever World Series Finals.
“I’m very happy to get another win today against Simon, he’s a great player and it was a tough match,” said ElShorbagy, who will take on World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad in his next fixture.
“I think he was going for it more than me, I felt I was more reacting to what he was doing [in the second]. I needed to play a good length game today to force a few errors from him, which I think I did very well in the first and third games.
“He played really well in the second game, he put me under so much pressure.
“I’m playing the World Champion tomorrow, they’re all tough matches, but that’s probably the toughest match. Karim played really well today, he stepped it up against Nick [Matthew], so it will be a really tough match.
“He’s a great player, he’s had a great season and I don’t think even he expected how good it would be. He went from World No.8 to No.1 and won a couple of World Series as well. We’ll see what happens.”
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Simon Rösner (GER) 2-1: 11-8, 4-11, 11-6 (40m)
El Sherbini Leaves David’s Title Challenge Hanging By a Thread
Nour El Sherbini (right) v Nicol David (left)
World Champion Nour El Sherbini claimed an eighth successive victory over Malaysia’s eight-time World Champion Nicol David to leave the two-time winner’s title hopes hanging on a knife’s edge.
El Sherbini – who reached the semi-final stages last year – has now got the better of David in nine of their 13 meetings on the PSA World Tour and was on a roll from the first point as she attacked with conviction and found her targets well at the front of the court.
Despite beginning the tournament with a shock defeat to British Open runner-up Sarah-Jane Perry on day one, El Sherbini cut a composed figure as she withstood David’s attempts to recover from a game down and she held firm to record an 11-6, 11-9 victory in just 21 minutes.
El Sherbini will now take on Laura Massaro in the next round and could qualify for the semi-finals if she beats the Englishwoman and other results go her way.
David, meanwhile, will go out of the tournament at the group stage for the first time in her career if both Massaro – who she lost to on day one – and Perry take at least a game each in their fixture later today.
.— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) June 7, 2017
noursherbini</a> & <a href="https://twitter.com/NicolDavid">NicolDavid played some high-quality stuff! Here's a look at one of their best rallies #squashindubai pic.twitter.com/V0UBQUrZWS
“Yesterday I hadn’t had a lot of time on the court, so I wasn’t really playing at my best,” said El Sherbini.
“I didn’t see the court very well and I needed some more time on the court. She [Perry] was playing so well, but I wanted to come back today and win, so I think the difference is that I needed to win today.
“I feel comfortable playing Nicol and I don’t feel any pressure playing against her. I still see her as being at the top and that I’m the young one playing against her, so that’s why I just want to play against her and do everything I can.
“I have one more match, I just want to enjoy it and if I don’t qualify then it’s fine. The World Series Finals is a big tournament, but first of all I’m coming to enjoy it. But I would love to qualify for the semis like last year.”
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Nicol David (MAS) 2-0: 11-6, 11-9 (21m)
Willstrop Halts Gaultier in Group B
James Willstrop (right) v Gregory Gaultier (left)
Former World No.1 James Willstrop bounced back from yesterday’s defeat against World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy to claim a huge win over current World No.1 Gregory Gaultier, leaving the Frenchman on the brink of a shock early exit.
With just one defeat in 2017 prior to the tournament, Gaultier had looked in imperious form with 27 matches unbeaten but, like in his day one defeat to Ali Farag, he looked out of sorts after a heavy schedule in recent months and Willstrop took full advantage with a vintage display.
The 33-year-old from Yorkshire was in full flow as he went 10-6 up in game one and he fended off an attempted comeback from Gaultier, who tried to raise the pace to no avail.
The second game was all Willstrop as he shut out an increasingly frustrated Gaultier to seal the victory by an 11-9, 11-4 margin, which puts him in contention for a place in the knockout semi-finals.
Defending champion Gaultier, meanwhile, will suffer elimination if World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy wins his encounter with Farag later today.
“If you get a result over Greg then something is clearly going well,” said Willstrop.
“Nobody is beating him at the minute and it’s difficult for me not to point out that he’s had a tough season. I know how difficult it is mentally to have to get yourself up for every tournament for a whole season.
“He was very valiant and tough tonight and I’ve been in that position where I’ve played so many matches and the mental and physical intensity is brutal. He’s handled it so well and he backs up so well.
PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) June 7, 2017
“Ali and me have managed to capitalise on that. He played well, I had to work so hard to beat him and I managed to put it all together. I played well last night, so I didn’t see why I couldn’t do it again.
“In the best-of-five format there are more opportunities to pick out the phases and hone in on when you’ve got to mentally push because it’s so hard to stay mentally focused for an hour and a half. With best of three there is no let up, every phase is important and I had to be very tough on the game balls. That was probably the hardest period of the match.”
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 2-0: 11-9, 11-4 (28m)
Massaro Qualifies for Semi-Finals After Beating Perry
Laura Massaro (left) v Sarah-Jane Perry (right)
Title holder Laura Massaro became the first player to qualify for the knockout semi-finals after she beat compatriot Sarah-Jane Perry to keep her 100 per cent record going in the Women’s tournament.
With four game wins under her belt, Massaro can finish no lower than second in Group B after she followed up an impressive opening day win over Malaysia’s Nicol David with a 2-0 victory over World No.7 Perry, who shocked World Champion Nour El Sherbini on her World Series Finals debut yesterday.
The 33-year-old Lancastrian took the first game in comfortable fashion, but was drawn into a real battle by Perry in the second game, with the number seven seed stepping up the court to hold three game balls.
She wasn’t able to convert though as Massaro retained her composure to force a tie-break and she squandered two further game balls as the older Englishwoman pushed on to claim the win.
“I’m really happy, maybe it’s better that I need to go in and get a result tomorrow,” said Massaro.
“Then I’ll have that mindset of trying to make sure that I do well tomorrow. I don’t want to have a nothing day tomorrow, I want something to still be on it. We’re all competitive and there’s always an edge to all of us.
“I’ll still want to win tomorrow regardless of whether I’m qualified or not. It’s great to know that I’m in the semi-finals, but there’s still a job to do tomorrow.”
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 2-0: 11-6, 14-12 (35m)
ElShorbagy Defeats Farag in Huge Group B Battle to Reach Semis
Mohamed ElShorbagy (right) v Ali Farag (left)
World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy defeated compatriot Ali Farag in the last match of the day to become the first man to seal his place in the last four.
Both men claimed big wins on the opening day, with ElShorbagy beating former World No.1 James Willstrop, while Farag ended current World No.1 Gregory Gaultier’s 27-match unbeaten run.
Farag had the better of the early exchanges, which were dominated by aggressive hitting at a furious tempo, to go a game ahead, but ElShorbagy shot out of the traps in game two and built on his strong start to level the scores.
Blistering exchange between— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) June 7, 2017
aliamrfarag</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/MoElshorbagy">moelshorbagy!!! Absolutely brutalpic.twitter.com/ug7ZSSskhN
It was nip and tuck all the way through a nail-biting third game, and ElShorbagy managed to rise above his frustrations with some of the decisions to seal it on the tie-break meaning he will definitely appear in the semi-finals of the tournament for the third time in a row.
Farag must now defeat Willstrop to join his compatriot in the last four, while ElShorbagy’s win means that Gaultier has fallen to a shock group stage exit for the first time in his career.
“I’m happy that I won using my own strengths, which is something I did when I was World No.1,” said ElShorbagy.
“I was challenged, but I threw myself into that challenge and being 1-0 down and one game away from losing the match was tough mentally. When I was at my best that’s what I was good at and that’s what made me different from other players because I could get through those kind of situations.
“We had some issues in the first two matches we played in the season, in Al Ahram and the World Championship and it felt like we both got that anger out of each other. Since those two matches we started to have so much respect for each other.
“Every time we have played afterwards, we have brought the best out of each other. I can see it in his eyes, we both have a similar personality on court and that’s why we have such huge respect for each other.
“It’s something which we never had in juniors or when we started playing professional matches, so that’s why now we play in the right spirit and it’s a fair battle.”
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Ali Farag (EGY) 2-1: 8-11, 11-8, 12-10 (56m)