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Amanda Sobhy has reached her first Platinum semi final since 2016

El Gouna International - Semi Finals: As It Happens

The semi finals of the El Gouna International take place this evening, with the four matches on the glass court at the magnificent Abu Tig Marina.

The day’s play begins at 18:30 local time (GMT+2).

Join us here for reports and reaction, or watch the glass court action LIVE on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) or the PSA World Tour Facebook page (Indian subcontinent only).

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(All times are local GMT+2)

World No.4 Camille Serme and World No.7 Nouran Gohar will face off in the evening’s first match.

Both players came through tough test in yesterday’s quarter finals, with Serme taking over an hour to beat Sarah-Jane Perry, while Gohar beat World Champion Nour El Sherbini in five games.

Gohar leads the head-to-head record 5-3, and the Egyptian has won the last two meetings as well, the most recent coming in the Hong Kong Open quarter finals in November.

Serme has been in stunning form this week though, with her trademark backhand volley drop coming off more often than not.

The first men’s semi-final sees former World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad take on wildcard Fares Dessouky, who has continued his return from a torn ACL here.

Gawad currently has a 5-3 advantage over Dessouky, including the last four meetings, the most recent of which came at the Tournament of Champions in January this year.

The current World No.42 is climbing back up the rankings, and has already knocked out both Miguel Rodriguez and Mohamed ElShorbagy en route to the semi finals.

Gawad looked in imperious form against the younger ElShorbagy in his quarter final last night, but he did falter against Omar Mosaad in the third round, needing 90 minutes to beat the ‘Hammer of Thor’. How Gawad starts will be key to this one.

The second women’s match tonight sees World No.1 Raneem El Welily go up against US No.1 Amanda Sobhy for a place in the final in El Gouna.

The pair have played 11 times on tour before, but Sobhy has only managed one victory against the Egyptian, and that came on home soil at the Tournament of Champions back in 2016.

Sobhy surprised the home crowd on Tuesday night, as she came from two games behind to beat World No.3 Nour El Tayeb in five.

Meanwhile, Welily has only lost one game all tournament, as she overcame New Zealand’s Joelle King in four in her quarter final clash.

The final match of the evening is a rematch of the World Championship final, as World No.1 Ali Farag takes on World No.3 Tarek Momen.

The pair have met eight times before on the PSA World Tour, with Farag the victor in five of those, including their last meeting, the World Championship final in Chicago.

Last year’s runner-up has had to come through some tough matches against Cameron Pilley, Diego Elias and Paul Coll, with all of them being over 45 minutes in length.

On the other hand, Momen has not been on court for longer than 45 in any of his three matches against Zahed Salem, Saurav Ghosal and Simon Rösner. The Viper has been in scintillating form this week, and this could be the time for his first Platinum title.

Gohar Beats Serme To Reach Final

Nouran Gohar (right) in action against Camille Serme (left)

Nouran Gohar is into her first Platinum final since August 2016 after beating France’s Camille Serme in four games at Abu Tig Marina.

The Egyptian last reached a final of a Platinum event at the Hong Kong Open, where she defeated US No.1 Amanda Sobhy, a possible opponent in tomorrow’s final.

The World No.7 raced into an early lead, taking the first game in just seven minutes. She never allowed Serme to settle in the opening stanza, only letting the Frenchwoman score a single point.

However, Serme is not the World No.4 for nothing, and she battled back to take the second 11-6, thanks to her trademark backhand volley drop shot.

It was not to be for the Frenchwoman, though, as Gohar went on to take both the third and fourth games thanks to her powerful hitting.

There was a delay in the fourth game, as Serme had to go off for treatment after being caught by the Egyptian’s racket. Gohar kept her focus, though, to secure her spot in the final, where she will face Amanda Sobhy or World No.1 Raneem El Welily.

“I am feeling very happy right now, I cannot express what I feel at the moment. It’s my first final since 2016, but more importantly, I’m playing well again,” Gohar said.

“The first game was a good thing but also a bad thing as I knew that a player with the fighting spirit of Camille would come back attacking everything, playing short and volleying as much as she could! I had to be ready for that.

“My game plan was to put as much pressure on her I could, but making sure I was as accurate as possible. Camille is physically so strong, I cannot reach the ball when she plays her short game, so I had to make sure I was as tight and precise as I could today.

“I want to thank the crowd, their support gave me goosepumps and they are all the excitement I need. My coaches helped me so much, Karim [Darwish] and Omar [Abdel Aziz], their support mean everything. Now I’m going to cool down, and my physio has a lot of work to do because my body will need help!”

[8] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [4] Camille Serme (FRA) 3-1: 11-1, 6-11, 11-5, 11-4 (46m)

Gawad Battles Back To Beat Dessouky

Karim Abdel Gawad (left) in action against Fares Dessouky

Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad is through to the final of the El Gouna International after defeating compatriot Fares Dessouky in the last four.

The pair had faced each other eight times previous to this clash, with the ‘Baby Faced Assassin’ now making it five successive victories over Dessouky.

The former World No.1 started well, but after a small injury delay following Dessouky twisting his ankle, it was the maligned Egyptian that took the momentum to win the first.

The World No.42 then looked set to take the second as he held a 6-1 lead, but Gawad came back to force a tie-break, saving two game balls in the process, before winning it 13-11.

The third was more comfortable for the 2016 World Champion, as he took a lead in the match for the first time. He then sealed the victory in the fourth as Dessouky was only able to secure a single point in the game.

Gawad moves into his first Platinum final since his Black Ball Open victory. He will face either Ali Farag or Tarek Momen in the final in Gouna.

“I didn’t play my best squash today, I feel that in the first game I was picking up the ball for him! So from the second on, I tried and forget about it and push as much as I could, and to stay as strong as I could mentally,” Gawad said.

“It was a bit scrappy at times, but this is the outdoor conditions, squash is also an outdoor sport, and we are used to it.

“I need to salute Fares, he is just back from an ACL injury, and the way he came back shows how strong and how professional he is.

“Last year, I had an up and down season, riddled with injuries, but this year it’s much better, thanks to my coach Omar Abdel Aziz, my fitness coach Ahmed Faraghallah. When an athlete is down, we are bad with everybody, so thanks to them for supporting through the good and bad times.”

[4] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt [WC] Fares Dessouky (EGY) 3-1: 5-11, 13-11, 11-7, 11-1 (68m)

Welily Beats Sobhy In Three

Raneem El Welily (right) in action against Amanda Sobhy

Defending champion Raneem El Welily is into the final of the El Gouna International once again, after she eased to a straight games victory over US No.1 Amanda Sobhy.

Welily had won 10 of their 11 previous meetings, with Sobhy’s only victory coming at the 2016 Tournament of Champions.

It was the American that started the stronger, as she controlled the first game. However, Welily saved two game balls as she won four straight points to turn the game around from 10-8 down to win it 12-10.

The second and third games were much more comfortable for the World No.1, as she secured her spot in the final of the tournament she won last year. She will face compatriot Nouran Gohar in the final.

“We are both shot makers so it was always going to be the one who moves to the front first. It was not easy, there was a lot of work involved,” El Welily explained.

“We just played a few days ago at the DPD Open in Holland, it was a very close match, and this week, she reached the semis, that shows the quality of the player she is.

“I’m happy to be back in the final here, it’s so good to play in front of your home crowd, with your family and friends watching, and the support of your coach. “

“Obviously, winning 3-0 in 27 minutes is a great advantage as I will be fresh for tomorrow’s final. I’m very happy to play against Nouran, she played fantastic squash this week, she is a terrific player, we had a lot of great matches this season, and no doubt tomorrow will be another great battle.”

[1] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt [13] Amanda Sobhy (USA) 3-0: 12-10, 11-4, 11-6 (27m)

Farag Storms Back to Vanquish Momen

Ali Farag celebrates after his win over Tarek Momen

World No.1 Ali Farag mounted a stunning fightback from two games down to get the better of World No.3 Tarek Momen and reach the final of the El Gouna International for the second year in succession.

The match was a repeat of the PSA World Championship, where Farag prevailed to record a third win in a row over his fellow Egyptian.

But Momen raced out of the traps as he played some spell-binding squash at Abu Tig Marina, displaying his attacking artistry at the front to win the opener 11-9, before dropping just two points in the second as he put himself on the verge of a fourth successive PSA Tour final.

However, Farag has been the form player on the men’s tour this season, and his steely determination came to the fore as he came back onto court with renewed focus, He was finally able to move his opponent off the ’T’ to take the third 11-5, before he pulled away from an increasingly fatigued Momen in the fourth to hold four game balls.

He was unable to convert as Momen fought back to force a tie-break, however the Harvard-graduate kept his composure to take the game at the fifth attempt.

The decider was a slightly scrappier affair, with a number of stoppages and video reviews punctuating the rhythm. And with the drama reaching a crescendo, it was Farag who kept his nerve to take it 12-10, earning his spot in the final for a second year in succession.

He will now aim to avenge his defeat to former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad in the final of December’s Black Ball Open and will look to win his first PSA Tour title on home soil since 2015.

“I couldn’t be more proud of today. I didn’t start the game badly, but by the end of the first, and then the entirety of the second game, he was standing in front of me,” Farag said.

“He did so for the whole game really, and I couldn’t get the ball back in the deep corners. I have to say thanks to Karim [Darwish] and Nour [El Tayeb] in my corner. Some days, some people make the difference. Today, looking at my brother who I haven’t seen for a while, he gave me the energy which made all the difference and I am really happy to be through.

“Tarek played really well when he was down. He was attacking really well and he played both points so well. He got me edgy, so I started to force myself and that is when he was able to catch me off guard.

“At 10-10, I told myself that it was not lost, and that we were still all even. All credit to Tarek, he never makes it easy but I am over the moon with the win and to be in another final here in El Gouna.

“I have played Karim in so many finals in Egypt and I have never won one. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to turn that around, but it is always great against Karim. It is always enjoyable to play against him.”

[1] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [3] Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 2-11, 11-5, 11-9, 12-10 (84m)

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