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Raneem El Welily celebrates her win over Nicol David

World Championships - Semi-Finals: As It Happens

The semi-finals of the AJ Bell PSA World Championships gets under way at Manchester Central Convention Complex today with a host of big names battling for a place in the prestigious final tomorrow.

Here's the order of play
Men’s & Women’s Semi-Finals
13:00 [1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v [8] Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
Follow on [1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)

Second session
17:30 [3] Camille Serme (FRA) v [2] Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Follow on [4] Ali Farag (EGY) v [6] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)

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Defending women's champion Nour El Sherbini will start the day's action against compatriot and World No.8 Nour El Tayeb.

The Egyptian duo have faced each other twice already this season with El Sherbini winning the last encounter at the Carol Weymuller Open – which she went onto win. Whilst, El Tayeb claimed victory at the U.S. Open, where she went onto clinch her maiden World Series title.

Following on from their match, is what is sure to be an explosive encounter between World No.1 Gregory Gaultier and World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy as they contest for a place in the Men's final.

ElShorbagy has reached the final of every tournament he has played in so far this season, whilst Gaultier suffered an injury-hit start to the year.

In the day's second session, France's World No.3 Camille Serme will attempt to disrupt the Egyptian order in the women's event as she takes on World No.2 Raneem El Welily.

Serme claimed a place in her second consecutive PSA World Championship semi-final as she overcame New Zealand's Joelle King yesterday in a dominant performance on court. Meanwhile, El Welily saw off eight-time World Champion Nicol David 3-1 in her quarter-final contest.

In the last semi-final of the day, it is an all-Egyptian men's battle between World No.3 Ali Farag and World No.5 Marwan ElShorbagy.

Farag came from one-game down to defeat Colombia's Miguel Angel Rodriguez yesterday to reach his maiden PSA World Championship semi-final.

Meanwhile, ElShorbagy played some of his best squash to see off defending champion Karim Abdel Gawad in straight-games.

El Sherbini Defeats El Tayeb to Reach Third Straight World Championship Final

Nour El Sherbini (right) v Nour El Tayeb (left)

Words by Fiona Tomas

Two-time World Champion Nour Sherbini is within touching distance of another World Championship crown as the Egyptian reached her third final in as many years, battling back from a game down to beat Nour El Tayeb in an epic five-game thriller.

The tournament’s top seed dispatched a determined Nour El Tayeb 11-2, 8-11, 10-12, 11-5, 11-0 in 63 minutes and will face either Camille Serme or Raneem El Welily in Sunday’s final.  

The 22-year-old imposed her game from the start, floating a superb volley while leading 5-2, as she snatched the ball from her opponent’s serve with her usual fiery dominance en route to closing out proceedings 11-2.

El Sherbini hadn’t dropped a single game heading into this encounter and the opening exchanges suggested the World No.1 was vying to maintain that pristine record.

But El Tayeb – this year’s U.S. Open winner – showed more resolve in the second, rushing out on court a whole minute before her opponent and winning a crucial video-decision as she scrambled to return a Sherbini drop at 9-7.

Despite squandering game ball at 10-7, the Cairo-born hitter confidently held the glass door open as video analysis granted her a stroke decision to bring the match alive at a game apiece.

The third saw a series of sharper rallies, as both players returned more clinically from each other’s serves – but it was Tayeb who continued her resurgence. Despite wasting two game balls at 10-8, she again triumphed on a stroke – a just reward for an excellent boast at 11-10 off El Sherbini’s serve.

Tensions rose in the fourth but El Tayeb calmed proceedings by honestly granting a let to El Sherbini at 2-1 after she could have taken a stroke for hitting her opponent. It was a crucial decision from the 24-year-old, which somewhat changed the balance of the match, as El Sherbini dug deep to send El Tayeb sprawling across the court to mount a 9-5 advantage, before striding off court at 11-5.

And the China Open winner showcased her supreme class as she obliterated a tired El Tayeb in the fifth, majestically inflicting a bagel on her compatriot to take it 11-0.

It means El Sherbini now has the opportunity to join Sarah Fitzgerald, Michelle Martin and Nicol David in becoming only the fourth woman to win three successive World Championship crowns.

Buoyed by her aggressive prowess she displayed on court, a confident El Sherbini insists it was a unique encounter against her long-time rival.

“I’ve never had a match like that in the last game, it’s weird,” said the World No.1.

“I just tried to take the lead, I didn’t know what she was going to do. It was weird to finish like that, but a good thing for me. When you’re down and you come back, I was trying to think point by point and just keep fighting.

“I accepted I was 2-1 down – you have to accept the decisions and try to play the plan between games, if the original plan isn’t working. I always try to accept and change, and calm down.

“We’ve been playing together since we were ten years old – we’ve always had tough matches. We have our own respect for each other and we never have any words inside the court.

“After the fourth, I didn’t know what was going to happen – except I knew I wanted to win the first couple of points. It was a mental struggle, but at the end, I was stronger than her.”

[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [8] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-2: 11-2, 8-11, 10-12, 11-5, 11-0 (63m)

ElShorbagy Ends Gaultier’s Run to Reach World Championship Final

Mohamed ElShorbagy

Words by Alex Mason

World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy will appear in the final of the AJ Bell PSA World Championships for the third time after he defeated World No.1 Gregory Gaultier in a gripping affair, taking it 12-10, 11-4, 11-9 in 52 minutes.

The pair have contested one of the most captivating rivalries of recent times, with Gaultier beating the Egyptian in 11 of their 21 previous encounters leading into the fixture, including a heated battle in January’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, which saw the charismatic ‘French General’ come through to win in five games – match that was later voted as the 2016/17 PSA Men’s Match of the Season.

The first game of their clash in Manchester truly was an exhibition of world-class squash, with fans at the Central Convention Complex treated to an absorbing contest that saw ElShorbagy –who has won five of his last six PSA World Tour events – attack with intensity, while Gaultier worked relentlessly around the court to pick up the majority of what his opponent threw at him.

After taking the opener 12-10 on the tie-break, 26-year-old ElShorbagy continued to stack pressure on the Frenchman throughout the match, with Gaultier making a number of unforced errors as ElShorbagy took advantage with his faultless shot selection and swift movement on court.

Gaultier briefly forced a comeback in the third game but ElShorbagy – a two-time runner-up to Ramy Ashour in 2012 and 2014 – injected vicious pace into the extensive rallies to book his place in the final.

“He (Greg) is 34-years-old and I’m 26-years old and that’s the 22nd time we have played on Tour, so I think that shows how great of a player he is because I hope at his age I can play even half as well as the way he is playing,” said ElShorbagy.

“We always play tough matches together, the first game was very crucial, just like how it was with Nick and Ramy [in the quarter finals and third round, respectively], so taking the first game gives you a huge boost for the rest of the match.

“I felt I played the crucial points at the end of the first game better than him, but it was tough all the way through the match.

“In the second game when I had the lead, I didn’t want to lose focus because in the third game he was back in the contest like a flash.

“I’m happy to win in three and I look forward to coming back here tomorrow.”

ElShorbagy’s win leaves open the possibility that he will face younger brother Marwan in the final, with Marwan in action against fellow Egyptian Ali Farag.

It will be the first time that two brothers have contested the final of the iconic World Championships, and the first siblings since the Grinham sisters, Rachael and Natalie, in 2007.

ElShorbagy is backing his brother to join him in the final, saying: “Me and my brother give something unique to the sport. Having two brothers in the semi-finals is special so who knows, maybe we will have an all-ElShorbagy final.”

[3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 3-0: 12-10, 11-4, 11-9 (52m)

El Welily Beats Serme to Set up World Championship Final Repeat with El Sherbini

Raneem El Welily

World No.2 Raneem El Welily will have the opportunity to right past wrongs when she faces compatriot Nour El Sherbini in an all-Egyptian women’s final at the PSA World Championships for the second time in a row.

The two-time runner up overcame France’s Camille Serme 11-7, 11-9, 11-7 in 39 minutes to set up a repeat of April’s title-decider.

The result also ensured that the tournament will see two Egyptian champions – a reflection of the supreme dominance the country is showing in the modern game.

El Welily dictated the opening proceedings, confidently stretching Serme as she exploited all areas of the court, establishing an early 6-2 lead.

The 28-year-old sent her French opponent back tracking on several occasions, forcing Serme to commit uncharacteristic errors as El Welily matched her undoubted shot-making skills with an unwavering mental focus to go a game ahead.

But Serme, who hadn’t dropped a game all tournament before this encounter, appeared more reassured in the second and met El Welily’s potent volleys with more determination. The third seed won a crucial, brutal rally at 7-6 down, but could not capitalise in the ones which followed as former World No.1 El Welily soon found herself at game ball.

But Serme fought back, denying El Welily the game on three separate occasions – again proving the more capable when the players found themselves locked in another intense duel at 10-9.

But the Frenchwoman was left vulnerable to attack when she continuously lobbed against the front wall, which slowed the pace of the game and played into El Welily’s hands as the Egyptian claimed the second.

And El Welily did not stutter in the third either, taking it 11-7 to give herself a third crack at finally lifting the biggest title on the Women’s Tour – where prize money is equal to the men’s.

“I couldn’t relax, but I think I was a bit more patient today at the crucial points where she made some errors,” said El Welily.

“I’m just happy to be through in three. I was so focused on doing what I was doing to the point that I started overdoing it – and she knew where I was going to hit the next shot every time.”

And while she is a fan of her long-time rival El Sherbini, the 28-year-old admits she will do everything in her power to appease her last two World Championship heartaches.

“Sherbini is such an exciting player to watch. She’s very skilful with the racket and you never know what she’s going to hit next,” said El Welily.

“No matter how much you prepare for it, you definitely have to be on your toes. I’m hoping tomorrow I can show what I’m capable of.

“It’s really good for Egypt. I can understand it might not be too exciting for the fans. You could tell a lot of people today were supporting Camille and Greg – I’d be doing the same if I was them.

“But these are great times for Egypt in squash. The women’s game is very exciting at the moment – people are moving in and out of the top eight every month.” 

[2] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt [3] Camille Serme (FRA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-9, 11-7 (39m)

ElShorbagy Sets Up Sibling Final Title Clash

Egypt’s Marwan ElShorbagy beat compatriot Ali Farag in a five-game thriller to set up a historic meeting with his older brother, Mohamed, in tomorrow’s PSA World Championship men’s final.

Mohamed had beaten Gregory Gaultier earlier in the day to reach the prestigious tournament final before Marwan ensured it was a family occasion as he battled with Farag to join his elder sibling and reach his maiden PSA World Championship final by an 11-8, 4-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-9 scoreline.

The younger ElShorbagy brother started the game strongly – showcasing the form that saw him knock out defending champion Karim Abdel Gawad in the previous round – to take the first game, before Farag fought back to level the scores.

Both players produced errors in a tight clash that saw the pair contest points back and forth, with U.S. Open winner Farag taking the next two games as he took full advantage of ElShorbagy’s errors.

Not one to go down without a fight, however, it was not long before the 24-year-old from Alexandria battled back to complete the all-Egyptian line-up at tomorrow’s final as he remained composed to see out the victory.

“It feels amazing,” said ElShorbagy.

“This is for our family. Two brothers in a final and I don’t think it has ever been done before. We’re so close to each other and it is a dream for both of us and these are the kind of things you visualise when you are young and it’s a dream come true.

“I just want to give all credit to Ali because he has been having a fantastic season. Just to have my mum here watching is amazing and this is for her and for our family – she is always there and always supports us.

“We have got a lot of players inside the top ten and Egypt is having the best time at the moment in squash. I have one more match tomorrow and I’m sorry brother but I’m going to have the best recovery ever to try and beat you.”

[6] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [4] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-2: 11-8, 4-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-9 (75m)

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