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Diego Elias

Oracle NetSuite Open: Semi-Finals - As it Happens

Follow us here for reports and reaction from semi-finals day at the 2017 Oracle NetSuite Open in in San Francisco.

Former World No.1s Mohamed ElShorbagy and James Willstrop will meet for the 21st time on the PSA World Tour when they go head-to-head in the first men's semi-final, with Willstrop aiming to end a four-match losing streak to the Egyptian powerhouse.

The other men's semi-final will see Peru's Diego Elias – who stunned three-time World Champion Nick Matthew yesterday – go up against reigning World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad.

And the top-class squash doesn't stop there as Malaysia's eight-time World Champion Nicol David will also be in action in the women's semi-finals against India's Dipika Pallikal Karthik – with the winner set to face England's Sarah-Jane Perry in the final after she eliminated defending champion Laura Massaro yesterday.

You can watch LIVE coverage on SQUASHTV and Eurosport Player.

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Here's the Order of Play
(All times are local PDT)
19:00 [2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v [4] James Willstrop (ENG)
19:45 Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) v [2] Nicol David (MAS)
21:00 Diego Elias (PER) v [1] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)

ElShorbagy Beats Willstrop in Five to Reach Final

Mohamed ElShorbagy

Egyptian World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy will appear in a second successive PSA World Tour final after he overcame last year's runner-up James Willstrop in the last four of the Oracle NetSuite Open in a thriller in San Francisco.

ElShorbagy won the PSA Dubai World Series Finals on his last outing on the Tour and will face either Karim Abdel Gawad or Diego Elias in the title decider after he came through in five games against the Englishman by an 11-2, 11-13, 8-11, 11-6, 14-12 scoreline after 70 minutes of world-class squash.

“After the first game and then being 10-4 up in the second, I don’t think many people understand the challenge I had to face after losing that second game,” said ElShorbagy.

“I was thinking I should have been 2-0 up and then suddenly I’m 2-1 down in the semi-finals against someone like James, it was such a huge challenge for me to stay positive and remove any kind of negative thoughts.

“I’m really proud with how I came back, it was never easy, and even in the fifth game, to be 10-8 up and then finding myself 11-10 down after having two match balls, it was challenge after challenge.

“James was playing so well today and once he won that second game and got his confidence, he was like a train, there were times when I couldn’t stop him. I had to keep fighting and that’s what I do best.

“At 10-10 anything can happen and luckily I kept my nerve. It’s only our first battle of the season and I’m sure we will have many more.”

ElShorbagy had won the pair’s last four matches and he outclassed and outfought Willstrop in a one-sided first game that saw him drop just two points.

The 26-year-old looked to be on course to double his lead after going six game balls up in the second but Willstrop sprung into life as his deft touch and courtcraft saw him fight back to force a tie-break, in which he prevailed to draw level.

The two former World No.1s then took a game each before a stunning fifth game went all the way to a tie-break after ElShorbagy squandered two match balls.

Some incredible retrieving from ElShorbagy saw him gain yet another match ball in the tie-break – with some sublime winners from Willstrop also seeing him have a match ball opportunity – but it was the man from Egypt who converted to seal his place in the final.

[2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [4] James Willstrop (ENG) 3-2: 11-2, 11-13, 8-11, 11-6, 14-12 (70m)

Ruthless David Dispatches Pallikal Karthik to Reach Final

Nicol David

Malaysia’s eight-time World Champion Nicol David will appear in the final of the Oracle NetSuite Open for the first time in her career after a ruthless display from the World No.5 saw her ease past India’s Pallikal Karthik in just 22 minutes.

David had recovered from match ball down to beat Victoria Lust in the previous round, but she was in charge of proceedings right from the off as she glided around court and gave Pallikal Karthik no chance to launch any kind of attack, with the World No.21 failing to even amass a point in the second game.

Pallikal Karthik found her range more in the third but couldn’t do anything to break David’s spell as the former World No.1 powered to an 11-3, 11-0, 11-5 victory that will see her clash with England’s World No.6 Sarah-Jane Perry, who knocked out top seed and defending champion Laura Massaro in yesterday’s semi-final.

“After a five-gamer in the quarter-finals, you really have to start well,” said David.

“She’s a dangerous player so I needed to be sharp from the word go. The court really worked for me today and I found my lengths, I found my volleys and I was really pleased to win that 3-0 and play the way I played today.

“I’m just so pleased to get into the finals here in San Francisco. It’s my first time in the final here, so it will be very exciting for me to play in front of a great crowd. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and I’m really going to give it a good go.

“Whoever is in the final is going to be a contender and I’m up for the battle.”

Perry has won the last three matches between the pair, while both players will be aiming to win their first Oracle NetSuite Open title.

[2] Nicol David (MAS) bt Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) 3-0: 11-3, 11-0, 11-5 (22m)

Gawad Comes Back From Two Games Down to Beat Elias

Karim Abdel Gawad (right) v Diego Elias (left)

World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad will take on compatriot Mohamed ElShorbagy in the men’s final after he launched a superb comeback from two games down to beat Peru’s World No.17 Diego Elias.

Elias had beaten World No.4 Matthew in the previous round and continued where he left off against the Englishman in the first two games as he outplayed Gawad with some sublime winners paired with a composed and mature game plan that belied his 20 years of age.

However, Gawad grew into the match as time wore on, with his relentless pressure ultimately paying off as Elias’s energy levels dipped and he came back to win three games without reply to take it 6-11, 4-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-9 in 90 minutes.

“He’s really young but he’s very experienced and really mature on court,” said Gawad.

“He had all the crowd on his side and he’s very talented. When I was his age I would do a lot of unforced errors and give my opponent too much respect but Diego doesn’t do that. He’s already very successful but he will be more successful soon.

“It’s always good to play an Egyptian in the final. Me and Mohamed are almost the same age, he’s only six months older, and we’ve always been competing since we were 7 years old.

“It’s very tough playing him and we always have a huge battle. Hopefully we’ll have a great match and have enough in the tank for tomorrow.”

Elias was superb in the opening two games as Gawad struggled to find a way past the 6ft 2 inch Peruvian who picked up everything the ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’ threw at him and responded with some pinpoint winners.

But the reigning World Champion finally managed to make up some ground on the two-time World Junior Champion over the next two games as he began to put Elias through a lot of work and he levelled after 11-8, 11-7 victories in the third and fourth games, respectively.

A nail-biting fifth game saw the two players fight fatigue to put on a superb display of attacking squash in front of enraptured spectators. With little between the two, it was Gawad who managed to pull ahead from 10-9 to hold match ball and he converted at the first attempt to move into the final.

[1] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Diego Elias (PER) 3-2: 6-11, 4-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-9 (90m)

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