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Ali Farag (left) takes on Joel Makin (right) on day three

Grasshopper Cup: Quarter-Finals - As It Happens

The quarter-finals of the Grasshopper Cup get under way today in Zurich’s Halle 622 – and you can watch all the action LIVE on SQUASHTV, Eurosport Player or the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour.

Play begins at 17:30 (GMT+1) when top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy takes on World No.6 Miguel Rodriguez. ElShorbagy and Rodriguez will meet in a repeat of the 2018 British Open final – with the former winning that encounter – but World No.2 ElShorbagy has won all three of their fixtures since then.

Germany’s Simon Rösner and World No.4 Karim Abdel Gawad follow on as Rösner aims to avenge a 3-0 defeat to the Egyptian in the quarter-finals of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in January.

World No.3 Tarek Momen and World No.12 Saurav Ghosal get the second session under way at 20:30, before World No.1 Ali Farag takes on compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar in the final match of the evening.

Join us here for reports and reaction, or watch LIVE on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) or the PSA World Tour Facebook page (excluding Europe & Japan).

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Here's the Order of Play
(All times are local GMT+1)

ElShorbagy Beats Rodriguez to Book Semis Spot

Mohamed ElShorbagy

World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy moved to within one win of a second successive Grasshopper Cup final after beating World No.6 Miguel Rodriguez in straight games in Zurich’s Halle 622.

Egypt’s ElShorbagy put in a powerhouse performance to outclass his Colombian opponent, winning 11-4, 11-9, 11-5 in 36 minutes.

He came into the match having won 14 of their 16 PSA Tour meetings, although he did lose in an epic five-game contest with Rodriguez in the final of the British Open last May.

ElShorbagy raced out of the starting blocks as he dominate the opening game with some emphatic line hitting and an immaculate front court game, dropping just four points in the process.

Rodriguez, playing his 450th PSA Tour match, rose to the occasion in the second game as he started to work ElShorbagy around the court and managed to find some chinks in the Egyptian’s armour.

However, ElShorbagy refocused in the latter stages and pulled ahead to double his lead, while the third game was a procession as he outclassed his opponent to complete the victory.

The 28-year-old will now take on either fellow Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad and Germany’s Simon Rösner for a place in the title decider.

“He won the British Open for a reason, he played really well that week,” said ElShorbagy.

“We always have good matches together, he's such a nice guy and we get on well together off court.

“To go on court and finish in three in big matches like this, it doesn't happen very often, so you take it any day. I'm really happy to be in the semi-finals, like last year. I always feel welcome here when I come back, and I look forward to being back tomorrow.”

[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [6] Miguel Rodriguez (COL) 3-0: 11-4, 11-9, 11-5 (36m)

Gawad Puts on a Show to Oust Rösner

Karim Abdel Gawad

An incredible display of attacking squash from former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad saw the Egyptian dismantle Germany’s Simon Rösner to set up a mouthwatering semi-final clash with World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy.

Gawad suffered a shock first round defeat at the PSA World Championships in Chicago last month but looked a completely different player today in Zurich as he put on a show in front of the spectators at Halle 622.

The 27-year-old is traditionally a slow starter, but he found his rhythm right from the off against Rösner and hit some stunning winners as he raced into a one-game lead for the loss of four points.

Rösner was looking to avenge a 3-0 defeat to the Egyptian in the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in January, and the World No.5 managed to gain a foothold in the match in the second as he settled down and pushed ahead to 7-5 in an absorbing contest.

Gawad battled back though to halt the German’s resurgence as he took six of the next eight points to double his advantage. That seemed to break Rösner’s resolve and he had no answers to Gawad’s brilliance in the third as the ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’ closed out the win by an 11-3, 11-9, 11-5 scoreline.

“I had a very tough round and I wasn’t 100 per cent focused,” said Gawad.

“I didn’t play my best squash, and I had to push mentally and try to remove the pressure, especially after the worlds. I tried to play good squash today, I’m really happy it worked, and I’m really happy to win in three against the World No.5 in this tournament.

“I’m expecting a very tough match [with ElShorbagy], Mohamed’s results and his record speak for itself. We’ve battled a lot since we were juniors and under 11 years old, so tomorrow I have to focus and play my best squash without any pressure. Hopefully I can play as well as I did today.

“Chicago wasn’t my best tournament, it wasn’t expected, and I trained really well for it. Things didn’t work out for me in that tournament, so I had to back and refocus. I was a little bit depressed, but my coaches and family did a good job with me to make me able to get back and play another tournament a few weeks afterwards.

“It’s really important for me in this tournament to play well and gain some confidence again. I’m glad I’m playing well again.”

[5] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt [4] Simon Rösner (GER) 3-0: 11-3, 11-9, 11-5 (39m)

Momen Comes Back to Beat Ghosal

Tarek Momen

Egypt’s World No.3 Tarek Momen came from behind to record a 3-1 win over India’s Saurav Ghosal – ensuring that all four semi-final spots will be contested by Egyptians.

Momen’s last two tournaments have seen him reach the finals of the PSA World Championships and the Citigold Canary Wharf Classic, while he got the better of Ghosal when they met in the quarter-finals of the Oracle NetSuite Open in September.

He outplayed Ghosal in the early stages of the first game as he surged to a 9-3 lead, but a series of tins then followed to let his opponent back in it.

Ghosal accepted the gift with the both hands and played some clever squash to close out the opener, moving Momen around the court and attacking the space to great effect as he took eight points in succession.

There was some real high-quality stuff between the pair in the second game, with Momen pulling away to record an 11-6 victory, but the game descended into a scrappy contest in the third, with a number of stoppages and discussions between the players and the referee, resulting in a conduct warning being given against Momen.

Ghosal was the aggressor in the fourth, and he built up three game balls as Momen rapidly dropped off physically. At times the Egyptian was doubled over due to the fatigue but, incredibly, he fought through the pain barrier to save each game ball, and converted his first match ball to sneak the win over the line.

“I don’t think we’ve ever played a match that went smoothly, it’s always really tough,” Momen said.

“Today, the first game made a huge difference. After squandering the lead like that, I knew I put myself in unnecessary trouble. You can’t afford to let Saurav go 1-0 up. I was very happy to not lose my head in the second and the third.

“In the fourth, he made it really difficult for me, so I had to fight. In the tie-break, I was just pushing, I didn’t even want to play at his pace, and I’m very happy that it worked out. Maybe the experience that I’ve gained has finally made a difference.”

Either World No.1 Ali Farag or World No.8 Mohamed Abouelghar will line up against Momen in the semi-finals.

[3] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [8] Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-1: 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 14-12 (68m)

Abouelghar Axes World No.1 Farag to Reach Maiden Grasshopper Cup Semi

Mohamed Abouelghar

World No.8 Mohamed Abouelghar will appear in the semi-finals of the Grasshopper Cup for the first time after he ended World No.1 and World Champion Ali Farag’s 11-match unbeaten run.

Abouelghar also becomes the first person to beat Farag since his reign as the World No.1 began at the beginning of this month after coming through to win 11-9, 5-11, 11-7, 11-9 after 51 minutes of high-quality squash.

Farag got the win the last time they met – a 68-minute, 3-2 victory in October’s Qatar Classic – but, like in the first round against Welshman Joel Makin, he conceded the first game after a clinical display from Abouelghar.

Harvard-graduate Farag raced out of the traps in the second game, building on an early lead to win it 11-5. The third was a physical affair which saw some slight traffic issues punctuate the play. Abouelghar surrendered a four-point lead as Farag levelled, but a couple of stroke decisions seemed to rattle the Harvard-graduate as Abouelghar dominated the latter stages of the game to restore his lead.

With the ball softening up in the fourth, most of the play was directed into the front of the court, with some sublime drops and breathtaking retrievals making for a spectacular conclusion to the encounter – with Abouelghar prevailing to book a semi-final spot against World No.3 Tarek Momen.

Abouelghar and Momen have met four times on the PSA Tour already this season, with Momen winning them all.

For Farag, it brings an end to a run which has seen him reach six PSA Tour finals in a row, and it’s the first time since October’s U.S. Open in which he has failed to make it to the title decider.

“I’ve been knocking on the door of the top players since the beginning of the season, and I’ve never been able to turn it around my way,” Abouelghar said afterwards.

“It’s been a long process, and I’ve learned a lot from my previous matches. Thankfully, I have a great team around me that helps me learn from my losses rather than backing down. I’m happy with the way I dealt with it until the end, I never gave up, and I’m very happy to be through to the semis.

“There are very fine margins with these guys, you rest for a second and they eat you up. I told myself to never relax, never give him anything for free, and I’m happy that’s what I did and it paid off.

“I’ve played Tarek every other tournament, we’ve played four times and he got the better of me every time. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a great match for the crowd.”

[7] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt [2] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-1: 11-9, 5-11, 11-7, 11-9 (51m)

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