France’s Camille Serme and New Zealand’s Paul Coll sent top seeds Nour El Sherbini and Simon Rösner to semi-final exits at the J.P. Morgan China Squash Open after both players prevailed in five-game battles at the glass court atop the Peninsula Shanghai, which overlooks Shanghai’s iconic Bund.
Serme, the women’s World No.5, ended a four-match losing streak against World No.1 and defending champion El Sherbini after finally converting the third of her match balls in the deciding fifth game after El Sherbini had come back from two games down to level the scores.
“I think I managed to find the right tactics from the start and I guess she was a bit nervous to be 2-0 down,” said Serme, speaking after her 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 8-11, 13-11 victory.
“But she’s the World No.1 and she’s such a fighter, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Even though I was way up in the third and fourth she came back really strongly and I think I was just right with my tactics and kept pushing.
“I didn’t even reach the final last season of any tournaments so already it’s very positive for me. It’s very positive to see that I can be at that level again, so I’m happy to be in the final and I can’t wait to be back on that amazing court.”
The China Open is the first PSA World Tour Gold event to take place since the new PSA tour structure came into effect on August 1, and Serme will take on reigning World Champion Raneem El Welily in the final as both players bid to become the first woman to lift a title at this tournament tier.
El Welily won the China Open in 2015 and she will compete for the chance to double her tally after a 11-4, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8 triumph over fellow Egyptian and World No.3 Nour El Tayeb.
“I’m really happy with my win today over Nour, it’s never easy, she’s very persistent and her retrievals are very good,” said El Welily.
“Winning here would be amazing, I won the tournament back in 2015 and it was very good timing for me back then. Since then so many things have changed on tour, it’s so different now and I’m very happy that the tournament is growing every year. I’m very happy to be in the final again and to start the season well would be great for me.”
Meanwhile, Coll ended World No.5 Rösner’s tournament after a brutal 90-minute epic and the Kiwi World No.10 will appear in his biggest PSA Tour final since he lifted the Channel VAS Championships trophy back in December 2016.
Rösner was on the verge of earning a final berth after going 2-1 up and 9-6 ahead in game four but Coll showed nerves of steel to come back into the encounter and level the scores, before edging a tight decider to record an 8-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7 triumph.
“That was a real classic battle out there with Rösner,” said Coll.
“I really enjoy this tournament in China, it’s my third time here now and I’ve done okay here and had a few good wins. To win it tomorrow in such an amazing complex would be amazing.”
Coll will line up against Egypt’s Mohamed Abouelghar in the title decider after the World No.13 followed up a shock quarter-final win over 2015 champion Gregory Gaultier with a 3-2 defeat of Indian No.1 Saurav Ghosal.
“To play here in the semis in this amazing venue is unbelievable for me,” said Abouelghar.
“I’ve been working hard this summer and to see my work paying off is a great way to start the season and hopefully things go my way tomorrow.”
The finals of the China Open will begin at 19:00 local time (GMT+8) on Sunday September 9 at the Peninsula Shanghai.
Results – Men’s Semi-Finals: 2018 J.P. Morgan China Squash Open
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt  Simon Rösner (GER) 3-2: 8-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7 (90m)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt  Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-2: 11-8, 6-11, 11-8, 3-11, 11-8 (63m)
Draw – Men’s Final: To Be Played September 9
 Paul Coll (NZL) v  Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
Results – Women’s Semi-Finals: 2018 J.P. Morgan China Squash Open
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-2: 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 8-11, 13-11 (66m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-1: 11-4, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8 (38m)
Draw – Women’s Final: To Be Played September 9
 Camille Serme (FRA) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)