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El Gouna International: Finals - As it Happens

It’s an all-Egyptian finals day at the 2018 El Gouna International with some exciting matches in store for spectators at the El Gouna marina.

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Here's the Order of Play
(Times are local GMT+2)

World No.1 Nour El Sherbini and World No.2 Raneem El Welily will face each other in the final of a PSA World Series tournament for the third time this season, with El Sherbini beating her fellow Egyptian in the finals of the Hong Kong Open and Saudi Masters in recent months.

The pair met in the final of the PSA Women’s World Championship at this venue 12 months ago – El Sherbini prevailing on that occasion – but El Welily did get revenge over the 22-year-old with a World Championship final victory in Manchester in December.

That is El Welily’s only win in her last four matches against El Sherbini but the 29-year-old does have the edge on the head-to-head record with eight wins to El Sherbini’s seven.

The pair will go head-to-head this evening with the aim of becoming the first ever women’s El Gouna International champion.

World No.4 Marwan ElShorbagy will hope it is third time lucky tonight as appears in a third World Series final – with World No.2 Ali Farag his opponent this time around.

ElShorbagy beat his older brother, World No.1 Mohamed, in the previous round and will look to achieve a third straight win over compatriot Farag, who ousted defending champion Gregory Gaultier in his semi-final encounter.

ElShorbagy and Farag have met five times on the PSA World Tour – with ElShorbagy winning three of them – but this is the first time they will play a title-decider.

El Welily Topples El Sherbini to Lift Women’s Title

Raneem El Welily

World No.2 Raneem El Welily became the first ever female winner of the El Gouna International, PSA World Series tournament after she came back from a game down to beat World No.1 Nour El Sherbini – avenging her defeat to her fellow Egyptian in the final of the PSA Women’s World Championship 12 months ago at this very venue.

That win for El Sherbini had kicked off a run of three wins in four matches against El Welily and she took a one-game lead in El Gouna’s marina after rattling off five points in succession to pull away from 5-5 in the opening game.

But El Welily, who beat El Sherbini to win the Women’s World Championship in Manchester in December, was able to shift the momentum in her favour and, after El Sherbini had fought back to level from 8-5 down, the 29-year-old took the next three points on offer to bring the match back to all square.

What followed was a masterclass of attacking squash from El Welily, with the former World No.1 hitting a feast of winners as her incredible shot-making skills saw her outplay her opponent, powering to an 11-3 victory in the third game to put her within touching distance of the inaugural women’s title.

She picked up where she left off in the fourth as she outclassed a rattled El Sherbini to hold five championship balls, only to see nerves kick in as the El Welily of the last two games was replaced by an incarnation that was unable to keep the ball above the tin.

El Sherbini, who for her part kept her head to reel in the older Egyptian, came back to force a tie-break and she held two game balls of her own. However, a crucial tin handed the initiative back to El Welily and she converted this time to get her hands on the title.

“What a match that was, Nour played fantastic and was fighting back all the way to the end,” said El Welily.

“Even at 10-5 down at the end she wasn't letting go all the way to 11-10. I still can't believe that, last time it happened I lost that match.

“I was thinking too much about that today, so I'm very happy that I managed to win it at the end and that I pushed myself.

“At 10-6, 10-7 you're still okay but at 10-8 you're a bit in the danger zone. At 10-9 you're thinking 'what have I done?'. At 10-10 I was thinking that maybe I was letting this game go and maybe I would win the next one.

“I was smiling on the inside and I'm guessing that might have helped a little bit and what a fantastic day it was.”

[2] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt [1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-1: 5-11, 11-8, 11-3, 14-12 (50m)

ElShorbagy Beats Farag to Lift Maiden World Series Title

Marwan ElShorbagy

World No.4 Marwan ElShorbagy has lifted the first World Series title of his career after blitzing past World No.2 Ali Farag to record a 3-0 victory in 39 minutes.

The 24-year-old had won three of their five matches on the PSA World Tour, with all of their previous meetings coming in semi-finals, including in the last four of December’s PSA Men’s World Championships where ElShorbagy came through a dramatic five-game, 75-minute thriller.

But ElShorbagy was rarely troubled by an out-of-sorts Farag tonight as he dominated the U.S. Open champion and played an impeccable match of squash, outclassing his compatriot to take an 11-8, 11-5, 11-4 victory to join his brother on the list of tournament winners.

“To win my first ever World Series title here in Egypt means a lot to me,” said ElShorbagy, who will overtake France’s Gregory Gaultier to move to a career-high World No.3 ranking on May 1.

“Especially to win it here at home means the world. I'm so happy, I'm over the moon and I can't even describe how I feel.

“I've lost a few major finals before, but coming into this one I just had to learn from the losses I had and I had to be more relaxed and more focused. Me and my coach put a good game plan together before the match.

“Always when you play Ali it's a tough battle. We've played a few times this season, he's had a great season and he's up to World No.2 now which is his best ever ranking. I congratulate him for an amazing season and I'm sure we'll play many more battles again.”

[4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [3] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-4 (39m)

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