The quarter finals of the El Gouna International are now upon us, with the top half of the men’s and women’s draw taking to the glass court at Abu Tig Marina this evening.
The day’s play begins at 18:30 local time (GMT+2) as World No.1 Raneem El Welily takes centre stage with a battle against New Zealand’s Joelle King.
Following that is the men’s World No.1, Ali Farag in the second Egypt and New Zealand clash, as he takes on World No.5 Paul Coll.
Amanda Sobhy then faces Farag’s wife, Nour El Tayeb, ahead of the final match of the night, which sees the German ‘Tree Chopper’, Simon Rösner in action against Tarek Momen.
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(All times are local GMT+2)
Welily Gets Past King In Four
Raneem El Welily (left) overcame Joelle King (right) in the last eight
Raneem El Welily is through to the semi finals of the El Gouna International, after beating New Zealand’s Joelle King in a high-quality four game affair.
The pair had met 15 times on the PSA World Tour in the past, with the Egyptian having won 11 of them. However, King had won four of the last six, including the finals of the Hong Kong Open and Cleveland Classic in 2018.
King arguably started the better of the two players, but Welily got going through the middle period of the first game. She won seven of the last nine points to take the first 11-6.
The second game followed the same pattern, but this time it was the Kiwi, who currently sits at World No.5, who ran away with it after the early stages.
The Egyptian then stepped it up a notch in the third game, and she was able to take the match away from the New Zealander, as she won both the third and fourth to secure her spot in the semi finals on Thursday evening.
“I am definitely pleased to be into the semis here in El Gouna. Playing Joelle has not been easy for me lately but to come out with a 3-1 win is definitely something that makes me pleased,” Welily said after her victory.
“I tried to push myself this time to get the first game and I think that made a difference somehow. If I had lost the first and the second I would have been in a really bad position.
“I am also very happy with the way I pushed myself after the second game. Some things were not going the way I thought they would, so I am very happy with the way I pushed myself mentally to come through.
“It looked like it was not going to be windy but the ball did stop in the middle a lot and that was surprising. Going high was a bit weird You would be standing on the ’T’ expecting the ball to be somewhere but instead it would stop a bit earlier, so I had to adjust to that.”
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 3-1: 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 11-6 (38m)
Farag Flies Past Superman
Ali Farag (fore) against Paul Coll
World No.1 Ali Farag is into the semi finals of the El Gouna International after coming through a tricky match with New Zealand’s Paul Coll.
This was the eighth meeting between the pair, with Farag having won the last six, including at both the World Championships and the Tournament of Champions earlier this year.
It looked like it would be plain sailing for the Egyptian in the first, as he moved into a comfortable lead. Despite a comeback from the Kiwi, Farag took the early lead in the match.
The second saw the World No.5 come out fighting, with some efficient straight drives, but a series of errors late in the game handed Farag the opportunity he needed to double his lead.
The third was also tight, but again it was Farag that took it in the end to seal victory, and set up a clash with either Simon Rösner or Tarek Momen in the last four.
“I mean, Paul is always tough to play against. Even if it is in three, they are always 11-8 or 11-9, so it is never easy.” Farag said.
“Paul is never going to give you any cheap points, so you have to earn every single point and that is not easy when you play against someone like this.
“However, I think I had my tactics sorted today and I tried to make sure I did not get into a physical battle with him, so I am glad to be through in three.
“Today was the best day. The temperature has gone down a little bit and the wind is not too bad, so I think today was the closest as can be to an indoor match.
“I was worried, especially after the controversy at 10-7, so I got a little worried. Luckily, the last ball went in, and I am very glad it worked.”
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Paul Coll (NZL) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-9 (50m)
Sobhy Battles Back From Two Down To Beat Tayeb
Amanda Sobhy (left) defeated Nour El Tayeb (right)
Amanda Sobhy provided the big shock of the evening, as she knocked out Nour El Tayeb after being two games down to advance to the semis of the El Gouna International.
This was the fourth straight meeting to go to five games, with Tayeb having won two of the previous three. However, Sobhy was the victor this time, in the latest chapter burgeoning rivalry between the pair.
The American looked all at sea in the first two games as the lack of glass court time seemed to give the Egyptian, who had played every match on the glass, a big advantage.
The World No.3 won the first 11-3, before a slightly tougher second game in which she triumphed 11-7. However, from there onwards, the US No.1 took charge.
A change of gameplan from Sobhy allowed her to come out fighting, taking the attack to there Egyptian opponent, and it worked big time.
She took the third and the fourth, and made a strong start to the decider, as El Tayeb lost her composure completely, resulting in her breaking her racket against her own leg.
After the World No.3 returned to court, a conduct stroke was given against Tayeb, with the American taking full advantage to go on and secure victory.
“To be honest, I am still thinking about how badly I got beat the first two games,” Sobhy said.
“I wasn’t thinking I had a chance to win, I was thinking about not getting slaughtered, and trying not to embarrassing myself. It is a quarter final of a World Series event, and Tayeb was playing well, but I told myself to give it everything I had.
“There was some rage, some anger fuelling me, and I just tried to power through. Fortunately I got a good lead in both the third and fourth and in the fifth, I wasn’t event thinking about how I had come back, I kept thinking I needed to keep my head down and to keep going.
“I think, I was not prepared for the glass court, and I had over 48 hours of rest. I didn’t do much yesterday apart from a 30 minute hit so I think it was just that shock to the system of the pace.
“I had to get the lungs working again, I couldn’t find my lengths and she was all over me. So, I don’t really know, I just told myself to stop being a baby and to push through.”
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt  Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-2: 3-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6 (41m)
Momen Motors Past Rösner to Seal Semis Berth
Tarek Momen (right) v Simon Rösner (left)
World No.3 Tarek Momen will appear in the semi-finals of the El Gouna International for the first time in his career after a sublime performance from the 31-year-old saw him beat Germany’s Simon Rösner in straight games to claim his 250th win on the PSA Tour.
Momen is enjoying the finest season of his career to date and will appear in his 10th successive semi-final after winning 11-5, 11-4, 7-11, 11-3 to oust the World No.4
Momen was simply superb in the opening two games as he raced into a two-game lead, hitting his targets at the front of the court to offset the pace that Rösner was hitting at.
The tall German had won their last two matches – including the final of the 2017 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions – and he came out strongly in the third to halve the deficit.
But Momen wasn’t to be denied as he cruised to victory in the fourth, dropping just three points to set up a repeat of the PSA World Championship final with World No.1 Ali Farag in the next round.
“I’m very pleased, I haven’t played Simon in over a year,” Momen said.
“The last two times we’ve played was the final of the Tournament of Champions and the semi-finals of the Swedish Open. I lost both 3-1, and I wanted to break the mental barrier. I needed a very good start today, and I tried to be as sharp and prepared as possible.
“I knew that I could take advantage of the situation that I had a couple of matches on the court and he didn’t. The first two games were very much needed to go 2-0 up. Then he came out firing in the third, and all of a sudden I found myself flagging.
“I was telling myself that even if I was going to lose it, I had to get a few points back, my tactics and rhythm back, which is what I did towards the end. It sharpened me up and helped be get through in the next game. I’m really happy to get through.
“Two days ago I had my 400th match, today I got my 250th win. I’m closing in on all of the figures at this tournament. It tells me that I’m getting old, the numbers are growing, but I’m happy my win percentage is on the rise.”
Speaking about his match with Farag, Momen continued: “I try to isolate things, I don’t like to get my revenge. Every match I play, I go in for the win. I’m fully committed to getting my win over Ali, irrespective of what happened in the past.
“I don’t want to link between what happened then and what happened now. It’s just a match, he’s a good opponent, and I have to come on court with the right gameplay and execute it to the best of my abilities.”
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt  Simon Rösner (GER) 3-1: 11-5, 11-4, 7-11, 11-3 (41m)