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East Wintergarden

Canary Wharf Classic: Semi-Finals: As it Happens

The best-of-five games scoring format returns today at the Canary Wharf Classic in an all-Egyptian semi-final line-up.

Here’s the Order of Play
(All times are local GMT)

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Tonight will see the ElShorbagy brothers clash for the fourth time this season, with World No.1 Mohamed claiming wins in the finals of the World Championships, Windy City Open and the semi-finals of November’s Hong Kong Open.

27-year-old Mohamed, who is three years Marwan’s junior, leads the head-to-head record 10-2 but Marwan is playing at the top of his game at the moment and has reached four finals in his last five tournaments – a run that encompasses title wins at the Pakistan Open and Motor City Open.

Ali Farag and Tarek Momen will go head-to-head for the third time on the PSA World Tour with Farag looking to avenge a semi-final defeat to Momen in the semi-finals of January's Tournament of Champions.

Farag's only win over Momen came after the World No.6 was forced to retire during the second round of the 2016 El Gouna International and the pair will lock horns tonight in an unpredictable fixture.

Mohamed ElShorbagy Overcomes Younger Brother to Reach Final

Mohamed ElShorbagy

World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy claimed a fourth successive win over younger brother Marwan as he came back from 2-1 down to reach the final of the Canary Wharf Classic for the first time after a gripping contest under the spectacular domed ceiling of London’s East Wintergarden.

Mohamed had won 10 of their previous 12 meetings and had prevailed in their last three fixtures, including last week’s Windy City Open final and the title decider of December’s PSA Men’s World Championships.

The latest chapter of their gripping rivalry looked to be going the way of Marwan as he played some sublime squash to twice take a one game lead, but Mohamed came back in the fourth to level, before coming back from 8-6 down in the fifth to claim an 8-11, 11-8, 11-13, 11-3, 11-8 victory.

“We just played last week and he definitely played better this week,” said ElShorbagy, who has now reached nine finals in his last 10 tournaments.

“Playing someone with the quality of my brother twice in the same week is definitely not easy. After I beat him last week he would have learned so much and he wanted to do things better this time.

“I could see from the first point in the first game that he wanted to win badly today, but I had to try and fight. There were times when he was unstoppable and I couldn’t really cope with his pace, but I had to keep digging in and hope he made a few errors and I think my experience got me through in the end.

“We’ve [Mohamed and coach David Palmer] been trying to get things right this season and it’s definitely not easy playing so many matches and so many tournaments. It’s never easy to back up match after match and tournament after tournament, but if you want to be the best in the world you don’t give yourself excuses.

“You just keep pushing and pushing, that’s what all of us do and I’m glad to be in another final.”

Marwan made a flying start to the match as the 24-year-old took five of the first six points on offer and he capitalised to take the lead, but Mohamed cut a more composed figure on court in the second as he came back to level.

A dramatic third game saw the momentum shift back into Marwan’s favour and he built up two game balls, only to see a determined Mohamed force the match into a dramatic tie-break, where the 27-year-old held a game ball of his own.

But Marwan’s tenacity shone through as he steadied the nerves to overturn the deficit, before converting his third game ball to restore his lead.

Mohamed lowered the pace of hitting in the fourth and that rattled his younger brother, who lost his composure and took just three points as Mohamed brought the scores back to all square once more.

Marwan refused to throw in the towel though and showed his battling spirit to go 8-6 up in the decider, but it wasn’t to be his day as a fierce fightback from Mohamed saw him take the next five points without reply to earn his final berth.

[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [3] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 8-11, 11-8, 11-13, 11-3, 11-8 (71m)

Momen Beats Farag to Reach Third Final of the Season

Tarek Momen (right) v Ali Farag (left)

World No.6 Tarek Momen moved into his third PSA World Tour final of the season after the 30-year-old recovered from 2-1 down to defeat fellow Egyptian Ali Farag – setting up a final clash with World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy.

Momen got the better of Farag in their last meeting during January’s Tournament of Champions and was almost unplayable in the first game as he hit winners for fun and made it difficult for Farag to put any points on the board.

Farag was much improved in the second and third games though as he played some measured, controlled squash to move Momen around the court and he was rewarded with an 11-6 victory in the second, before moving on to take the third by an 11-8 margin.

There was little between the pair in the fourth until Momen rediscovered some of his best squash to pull away from 6-6 and he fended off an attempted comeback from a rapidly tiring Farag to close it out 11-8.

And it was all Momen in the latter stages of the decider as he surged through to an 11-5, 6-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6 victory to ensure that he will take on ElShorbagy for a second tournament in a row after he lost to the Bristol-based Egyptian in the Windy City Open semi-finals last month.

“I just tried to give it my best because I know Ali is an unbelievable opponent,” said Momen.

“What he achieved in less than three years on Tour is remarkable. I’ve been playing for 12 years and look where he is at with only three years of experience, so I salute him for that.

“He’s such a tough opponent to break, he’s very tough physically and mentally, with some good racket skills as well. He has the full package and to beat him is just unbelievable.

“We’ve always played tough 3-2 matches in practice and in tournaments, it looks like this is going to be the trend so I’m just happy to get the win today.”

[4] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [2] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-2: 11-5, 6-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6 (68m)

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