Egyptian World No.13 Mohamed Abouelghar will appear in the biggest PSA Tour semi-final of his career after he caused a huge upset against number three seed Gregory Gaultier in the quarter-finals of the J.P. Morgan China Squash Open taking place in Shanghai.
The tournament is the first PSA World Tour Gold event ever to take place under the new PSA tour structure – which came into effect on August 1 – and Abouelghar ensured that he will stay in the hunt for the title after a 12-10, 7-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-8 victory sent Gaultier – the 2015 China Open champion and former World No.1 – to a shock defeat at SECA Academy.
“I’m very pleased to beat Greg for the first time,” said Abouelghar, who had lost to the Frenchman in all four of their previous meetings.
“I’ve been watching him growing up and of course I’ve learned a lot from him. I’m very happy with how I held it together until the end and turned it around my way this time. I’m looking forward to playing at one of the sickest venues in our sport.”
Abouelghar will line up against India’s Saurav Ghosal for a place in the title decider after the World No.12 got the better of Germany’s Raphael Kandra, coming from a game down to win it 7-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-7.
Top seed Simon Rösner and New Zealand’s World No.10 Paul Coll will go head-to-head in the other men’s semi-final after they claimed respective victories over Welshman Joel Makin and Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi.
A period of light rainfall in the build up to Rösner and Makin’s match at the glass court erected on top of the Peninsula Shanghai – which is an open air court overlooking Shanghai’s spectacular Bund – meant that the pair had to cope with some difficult court conditions and, speaking after his 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6 triumph, Rösner says that his wealth of experience helped him to emerge victorious.
“It was quite difficult because in the middle of the fourth game rain came into the court, just some small drops but it made it more slippery,” said Rösner.
“We were a bit unlucky with the rain, I think. It didn’t make it easy but I am happy to keep my head straight even after I lost the third game.
“I came back in and was up 5-1, which was a good start, and it carried me through that fourth game. I think [experience] definitely made a difference today.”
The rain also played its part in the day’s following match – which pitted Egypt’s World Champion Raneem El Welily up against 2013 winner Nicol David – and it was the player from Malaysia who initially adapted to the conditions the better of the two as she fought back from a game down to go 2-1 ahead.
But a fired up El Welily came back on court a different player in the fourth and the momentum shifted back in her favour as she claimed wins in the final two games to earn a semi-final spot against World No.3 Nour El Tayeb, who defeated England’s Sarah-Jane Perry 3-2.
“Nicol was playing very, very good squash today, all credit to her, the way she played was just amazing,” El Welily said.
“In the first game there was some drizzle on the floor and it was a bit scary. In the second game or third game I slipped two or three times which slowed down my movement a little bit and got me thinking outside the court. But I’m just happy to be through today, all credit to Nicol for playing so well, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
World No.1 Nour El Sherbini will take on French World No.5 Camille Serme in the other women’s semi-final. El Sherbini, the defending champion, claimed a ninth successive victory over fellow Egyptian Nouran Gohar in a repeat of last year’s final, while Serme overcame India’s Joshna Chinappa in straight games.
“I’m really happy and I feel that I’m getting my momentum back and the rhythm of the game,” said El Sherbini.
“I think I’m a bit comfortable playing against her [Gohar] now. Starting the match knowing that you’ve already beaten her the other eight games gives me a lot of confidence.”
The China Open reaches the semi-finals stage tomorrow (Saturday September 8) with all matches taking place on the glass court at the Peninsula Shanghai. Matches begin at 18:30 local time (GMT+8).
Results – Men’s Quarter-Finals: 2018 J.P. Morgan China Squash Open
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt Joel Makin (WAL) 3-1: 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6 (71m)
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-2: 11-7, 9-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-5 (65m)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 3-2: 12-10, 7-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-8 (68m)
 Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-1: 3-1: 7-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-7 (52m)
Draw – Men’s Semi-Finals: To Be Played September 8
 Simon Rösner (GER) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v  Saurav Ghosal (IND)
Results – Women’s Quarter-Finals: 2018 J.P. Morgan China Squash Open
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 (26m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt Joshna Chinappa (IND) 3-0: 11-3, 11-5, 11-9 (26m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-2: 11-6, 7-11, 2-11, 11-2, 11-8 (52m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt Nicol David (MAS) 3-2: 11-4, 7-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-5 (43m)
Draw – Women’s Semi-Finals: To Be Played September 8
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Camille Serme (FRA)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)