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Ali Farag is into a first British Open final after defeating Paul Coll

British Open - Semi Finals: As It Happens

The semi finals of the Allam British Open take place today, with action beginning at 14:00 (GMT+1) at the Allam Sport Centre in Hull as the competitions for the sport’s oldest title heats up.

It’s an all-Egyptian battle in the first match of the day as Nouran Gohar, fresh off knocking out World No.1 Raneem El Welily, takes on compatriot Nour El Tayeb.

They are followed on court by a match that guarantees a European in the final as France’s No.1 Camille Serme takes on England’s No.1, and home favourite, Sarah-Jane Perry.

The men’s matches see World No.1 Ali Farag take on ‘Superman’ Paul Coll, before a clash of the former World Champions as Karim Abdel Gawad battles Mohamed ElShorbagy for a place in the final.

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

The first match of the day sees the Egyptian pair of Nouran Gohar and Nour El Tayeb battle it out for a place in the final, their eighth meeting on the PSA World Tour.

Gohar currently has the edge over the World No.3, having won four of the previous seven clashes. However, it was the ‘Black Widow’ who took the victory last time they met in the World Series Finals in Dubai last year.

The World No.7 has been in emphatic form this week, needing just 79 minutes to come through her three matches, which included a resounding victory over World No.1 Raneem El Welily. She also reached the final of the El Gouna International last month, and has been a runner-up in Hull before, back in 2016.

El Tayeb is into the semi finals of the British Open for the first time in her career, having gone one better than her quarter final berth last time out. She is yet to reach a final since losing out in the World Championships final in February, but she is looking back to her best.

Can ‘The Terminator’ reach a second final? Or will El Tayeb reach the British Open for the first time, and lay down a marker for her husband to follow?

The second women’s semi final sees an all-European affair, as 2015 British Open champion Camille Serme takes on England’s No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry for a place in the final of the oldest tournament in the game.

The pair are battling it out for the 11th time on the PSA World Tour with Serme having won eight of the previous ten. The Frenchwoman took victory in their last clash, which came in the quarter finals of last month’s El Gouna International.

‘La Panthére’ is the only previous winner of the British Open in the women’s draw, having lifted the iconic trophy back in 2015. She has been involved in some tricky matches so far in this tournament, but she has passed them all with flying colours, dropping just two games throughout.

Perry is looking to return to the British Open final, something she achieved in 2017, where she lost out to compatriot Laura Massaro. This year, she is hoping to go one better, and the fact she is on this run just five months after having elbow surgery is testament to the Englishwoman’s grit and determination.

Can the World No.4 reach a first final since the China Open in September? Or will Perry use the home crowd to boost her into a second British Open final?

World No.1 Ali Farag and ‘Superman’ Paul Coll will battle it out in the first men’s semi final for a place in the British Open finale on Sunday.

The pair have met eight times before on the PSA World Tour, with four of those coming since December. Farag has won all four, and the Egyptian is on a run of seven straight wins over the World No.6.

Farag has been in amazing form, and has only lost a single match in 2019. He has won the Tournament of Champions, World Championships, DPD Open and El Gouna International already this year, as well as taking over the World No.1 spot.

Coll has been consistently rising the rankings, and reached the top five after securing the biggest title of his career in March, when he won the Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic.

Will Farag continue his dominance on his way to a first British Open final? Or can ‘Superman’ take the win today?

The final match of the day sees two former World Champions battle it out, as Karim Abdel Gawad takes on Mohamed ElShorbagy in an all-Egyptian clash.

This will be the 13th meeting on the Tour, with ElShorbagy having tasted victory in nine of the previous clashes. The pair have also met in four semi finals this year, with 'The Beast’ winning all four. Gawad’s only victory over the World No.2 this season came in the quarter finals of the Black Ball Open, a tournament he went on to win.

Gawad is in his second British Open semi final, after reaching the last four in 2016. He is in good form coming into this tournament, having made the final of the El Gouna International last month, but a tough 90 minute match with Simon Rösner yesterday may hinder his chances.

ElShorbagy, on the other hand, came through a repeat of last year’s final relatively unscathed, as he beat Miguel Rodriguez in three games. The two-time British Open Champion is in imperious form, and is yet to drop a game in the tournament.

Will 'The Beast’ make it through to fourth final in five years in Hull? Or can the ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’ take ElShorbagy down?

Gohar Powers Past El Tayeb to Reach Second British Open Final

Nouran Gohar (left) after beating Nour El Tayeb (right)

Egypt’s World No.7 Nouran Gohar put in a powerhouse performance to dispatch compatriot and World No.3 Nour El Tayeb 3-1, booking a place in the British Open final for the second time in her career – just a week after sitting her final university exams.

Gohar, a runner-up in 2016, has stormed through the draw of this year’s tournament, beating England’s Emily Whitlock, Hong Kong’s Joey Chan and World No.1 Raneem El Welily in straight games, and she added El Tayeb to that casualty list after claiming an 11-9, 11-2, 6-11, 11-9 victory in 45 minutes.

Gohar was on her game from the word go as she crashed the ball around court and powered ahead to hold seven game balls in the opener. She then surrendered the momentum to El Tayeb as the World Championship runner-up finally found her rhythm and saved six of those game balls, before Gohar finally converted to take a one-game advantage.

A flurry of errors from El Tayeb’s racket handed the initiative to Gohar in the second too as the 21-year-old ran away to 9-0, dropping just two further points as she closed out the game.

El Tayeb – one of the gutsiest players on the PSA Tour – began to structure her rallies better in the third as she fought back from 5-1 down to take 10 of the next points, halving the deficit as she looked to claim an unlikely comeback.

The 26-year-old memorably came back from two games and two match balls down against Annie Au in the third round, and a strong start from El Tayeb in the fourth saw her threaten yet another comeback as she built up a 5-3 lead.

But Gohar refocused and came out on top in the crucial points to earn her spot in the title-decider of the sport’s longest-running tournament, while it’s her second Platinum final in a row after she reached the same stage of the El Gouna International last month.

“I had it in my mind that when I beat Nour, it’s always 3-2, I’m always 2-0 up, and she always comes back,” said El Tayeb.

“She did it two days ago here, she saved match balls [against Au], so it actually put pressure on me being two games up. She played really well in the third, all credit to her, she changed her tactics and I had to adapt in the fourth, even if I wasn’t feeling comfortable, I had to find some solutions and adapt to the game.

“We play the complete opposite way, she hits really beautiful shots, she has really good racket skills, while I have a good technique and I hit the ball with pace. It was a contrast today and all about who would impose their game.

“We had some patches in the match where she was playing better than me in the third, for example, I was playing better than her in the first two, and that last game was 50-50. It could have gone either way, and I’m glad it went my way today.”

Gohar, a construction engineering student at the American University in Cairo, sat her final university exams in the build up to the tournament, but says her lack of preparation for the tournament has been a blessing in disguise rather a hindrance.

“I had my final exams before coming here, so I wasn’t playing that much squash, I was just studying a lot,” she continued.

“I think it helped today and throughout the week. Sometimes when you don’t play so much squash, you’re really fresh, moving on court fast and have new ideas. I think that was the case today.

“I have really good memories here, and it helps you when you have those memories. It makes you feel comfortable and in the zone, and that’s been the case at this tournament. Hopefully it will be a better result tomorrow than three years ago.”

Either 2015 winner Camille Serme or England No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry will await Gohar in tomorrow’s final.

[7] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [3] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-1: 11-9, 11-2, 6-11, 11-9 (45m)

Serme Beats Home Favourite Perry to Book Finals Berth

Camille Serme (left) celebrates her win over Sarah-Jane Perry (right)

France’s World No.4 Camille Serme will line up against Egypt’s Nouran Gohar in tomorrow’s final after the 2015 champion ended the title challenge of England No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry in four games.

Serme became the first Frenchwoman in history to win the iconic tournament when she beat Perry’s compatriot, Laura Massaro, four years ago, and she will now look to etch her name into the history books once more after winning 12-10, 7-11, 11-6, 13-11.

The 30-year-old edged the opening game as she overturned a game ball to take it on the tie-break, but Perry – the 2017 runner-up – showcased the fighting spirit that saw her end World No.2 Nour El Sherbini’s title defence in the previous round as she came back to draw level with victory in the second.

Perry was using the hold to great effect as she engineered a number of openings, however Serme is one of the most tactically astute players on the PSA Tour, and she soon adapted her game as she took control of the middle of the court in the third and restored her lead for the loss of six points.

With the home crowd behind her, Perry some immaculate squash in the fourth to build up a 7-3 lead, but a loose volley drop in the next rally saw a stroke given against her, which proved crucial as Serme stormed back to take the next seven points in succession.

She was unable to capitalise on her three match balls as Perry fought back to draw level at 10-10, before moving ahead to 11-10 to put herself on the brink of a fifth game.

But it was to be the French player’s day as she kept her composure to halt Perry’s resurgence, and she will appear in her first Platinum final since the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in January 2017.

“It was difficult today, she had a lot cheering, but the crowd were very fair, they enjoy good squash, and even though the English player didn’t win, they clapped at the end,” said Serme.

“It’s great to have my coach and my physio. It’s the end of the season, everyone is a bit tired and to have this extra recovery helps a lot.

“Sarah-Jane was playing better [in the fourth], she was finding her length and I was trying to get in front of her again. It seems I play better when I’m behind.

“She’s [Gohar] been playing very well for the last few months and she’s in very good form. I’m looking forward to a good battle, and I’ll be ready for it.”

[4] Camille Serme (FRA) bt [6] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-1: 12-10, 7-11, 11-6, 13-11 (52m)

Farag Gets Past Coll In Five-Game Thriller

Ali Farag (right) and Paul Coll (left) in action

Ali Farag is into the final of the British Open for the first time after defeating ‘Superman’ Paul Coll in a match of the tournament contender.

The World No.1 had won the last seven meeting between the pair, including having beaten the New Zealander four times already in the 2018-2019 season.

The first game showed off the pair’s contrasting styles, but it was Coll that took the advantage. Farag had to save three game balls to stay in it, but the Kiwi was able to win the tiebreak to take the early lead.

Farag won the second game 11-7, before reeling off six straight points in the third to take himself into the lead of the match. But Coll, as so often is the case, would not give up that easily.

The World No.6 took the fourth game after saving two match balls, winning it 12-10, before then taking an early lead in the fifth and deciding game.

However, it wasn’t to be because Farag had just enough to get himself over the line, with the World No.1 booking a place in his maiden British Open final.

“It is unfair to talk about it [this match] in just a few sentences. It is one of those matches that you are going to remember forever,” Farag admitted.

“Win or lose, you would have been proud to have been a part of it. I think Paul and I represented our sport very well and we did our sport proud. Also, what an occasion to do it, on semi finals day at the British Open!”

“It was very tough on there, neither of us wanted to lose. Even if I had lost, I wanted to give it 200%, because 100% would not have done it justice.

“The British Open carries a lot of history, lots of legends are associated with it and the fact that I can at least be a part of the history, even if it just a small part of it, it makes me very proud.”

[1] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [4] Paul Coll (NZL) 3-2: 10-12, 11-7, 11-4, 10-12, 11-7 (77m)

ElShorbagy Into Final After Beating Gawad

Mohamed ElShorbagy (right) in action against Karim Abdel Gawad (left)

Mohamed ElShorbagy is into his fourth British Open final in the last five years after he defeated compatriot Karim Abdel Gawad in the semi finals in Hull.

The pair had met five times already this season, with ElShorbagy having tasted victory in the four semi final clashes that they had done battle in.

The first game was tight, but the ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’ did not look fresh, especially after his mammoth match with Simon Rösner less than 24 hours earlier.

ElShorbagy, who was only on court for 45 minutes in his quarter final match, took full advantage, taking the first two games in quick fashion.

Gawad took a three-minute injury break in between the second and third games due to a shoulder issue he picked up against the German.

After the break, he tried to fight back but the ‘Beast’ had too much for his compatriot, securing his place in the final alongside World No.1 Ali Farag.

“When he [Gawad] has a tough match, he is very dangerous to play against the next day because that is when everything releases,” ElShorbagy explained.

“That is when he knows he is not going to want a lot of long rallies so that is when he starts going for it and with his talent, he can win a lot of points very quickly.

“I had to make sure that I made it into a physical game, make it long, and I think I did well in the first game. Even though I could have lost that game, I felt like I put a lot of tough work in his legs.

“Ali had to go through a lot of tests today, and again he passed the test. At the end of the day, he is the one in the final and I am the one who has to face him. You have to forget the rest of the tournament and now there is one big match tomorrow and there will only be one winner.”

[2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [5] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-3, 11-9 (47m)

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