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Mall of Arabia

World Tour Finals - Day Four: As It Happens

The CIB PSA World Tour Finals group stages action concludes today with round three action taking place at the Mall of Arabia in Cairo, Egypt.

Players competing at the World Tour Finals will compete in group stages, which are held under a best-of-three games format, with the top two from each group progressing to the knockout semi-finals and beyond.

Points are on offer for all results in group matches, apart from a 2-0 loss. If a player was to lose 2-1, they get one point. If a player was to win their match 2-1, they would receive three points, and if they win in straight games 2-0, they get the full four points.

The day begins with two crunch matches as France's Camille Serme and Wales' Tesni Evans go head-to-head in a straight shootout as the winner will qualify in Group A to reach the semi-finals. World No.1 Raneem El Welily has already qualified for the semi-finals after she won all of her group matches.

They are followed on court by Egypt's Tarek Momen against Peru's Diego Elias with the same scenario in place for those players as the winner will qualify. Mohamed ElShorbagy has already qualified from Group B after winning all of his group matches.

El Sherbini and Gohar then go head-to-head in Group B, with the winner of that match also booking their place in the semi-finals, while Nour El Tayeb and Sarah-Jane Perry are also in action. A win for either will earn them a spot in the last four.

Top seed Ali Farag takes on Paul Coll in Group A, while current leader Karim Abdel Gawad requires just a point against Mohamed Abouelghar to qualify.

Gawad requires just a point to qualify, while if Farag finishes level on points with Abouelghar, he will go through due to a superior head-to-head record.

A 2-0 win for Gawad will see him qualify top, while Coll wouldn’t be out of the running just yet in that scenario. If he went on to beat Farag 2-0, he would finish on four points along with Abouelghar and Farag, meaning it would go down to percentage of points won to decide who reaches the last four.

Points won percentage will also decide the qualifiers if Abouelghar and Farag both win their matches 2-0 as they will join Gawad on eight points. In that scenario, whoever has the highest points won percentage out of those three players will qualify.

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Here's the Order of Play
(All times are local GMT+2)

Serme Defeats Evans to Reach Semis

France’s World No.3 Camille Serme defeated Wales’ World No.9 Tesni Evans to reach the semi-finals of the season-ending PSA World Tour Finals in Cairo, Egypt.

Both players needed to win today to ensure that they would make it to the last four stage, however, it was the Frenchwoman who cemented her place after she put in a confident display to take out the Welsh player.

Evans had never beaten Serme in their nine previous meetings on the PSA Tour, with their last match coming at the British Open last month and it was the World No.3 who started stronger. Serme set the tempo of the match, making sure she was in front of Evans, to not allow the Welshwoman to settle into her rhythm or use her skill as the Frenchwoman took the first game.

Evans began to fight back in the second to show her usual resilience as she disrupted the momentum of Serme and saved two match balls to send the match to a tense tie-break. However, it was World No.3 Serme who was able to convert after saving game ball to close out an 11-5, 13-11 victory.

“From the beginning I saw that Tesni was not moving as well as usual,” said 30-year-old Serme.

“But she is such a fighter and whatever happened I knew she was going to give it her all in the second. She tried to find some good solutions and it almost worked, it was a good tactic but I’m happy that I found my solutions in the end.

“Every match is tough and everyone deserves to be in the semis, but I feel lucky that it’s me and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

“I’m happy with this end of the season. I’ve been pretty consistent in making quarters and semis, but didn’t win any tournaments, so if I could go into the final this week then I would be even more happy.”

[4] Camille Serme (FRA) bt [8] Tesni Evans (WAL) 2-0: 11-5, 13-11 (28m)

Momen Through to Semis

Egypt’s World No.3 Tarek Momen has booked his place in the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour Finals for the first time in his career after he defeated Peru’s Diego Elias to finish in second place in Group B.

The 31-year-old Egyptian was completely dominant in the early stages, with Elias getting off to a sluggish start as Momen took a 1-0 lead, with both players needing to win to reach the last four.

The momentum completely changed in the second, however, as 22-year-old Elias hit his stride and outplayed Momen to level the scores and leave things resting on the third and final game as to who would reach the semi-finals.

The third proved to be a much tighter affair with both players pushing each other. It was Momen who was able to edge in front as the Peruvian began to look fatigued towards the latter stages of the crunch match with Momen cranking up the pressure.

Elias managed to get himself back within touching distance before the ball burst on court and Momen was then able to power to the finish line to close out an 11-2, 4-11, 11-8 win in 46 minutes.

“There are so many positives to take out of this match,” said 31-year-old Momen afterwards.

“Especially in the last part of the third game because so many things went against me. I was trying to work him hard and I put in a lot of effort myself and towards the end I felt like I had a slight advantage physically. Then all of a sudden the ball was gone and he had the time to recover.

“I was really happy I remained calm, I kept talking positively to myself, I kept telling myself to forget about the lead you and the physical advantage, forget about everything, it’s just two points so fight for them and get the win. I’m happy with that and how I recovered after playing a perfect first game and then I kind of played too much to the front and he capitalised on that. I saw the momentum shift and I’m very happy I was able to get the win eventually.

“I think it’s the way I play, I’m an attacker and I like to attack a lot. I’ve tried to get the balance right between not attacking too much to the front and being effective when I chose to go to the front and it has paid off and it helps me to put a lot of work into my opponents legs. I get tired as well, but it’s a very small difference towards the end as to who wins.”

[3] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [7] Diego Elias (PER) 2-1: 11-2, 4-11, 11-8 (46m)

Gohar Qualifies Top of Group

Egypt’s World No.4 Nouran Gohar has qualified top of Group B for the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour Finals after beating defending champion Nour El Sherbini, 2-1.

The 21-year-old Egyptian continued her rich vein of form, which saw her lift the prestigious British Open title last month, as she recovered from going a game down to her compatriot to win 6-11, 11-5, 11-7 in 33 minutes.

Cairo-born Gohar recorded a 2-0 win over England’s Sarah-Jane Perry yesterday to give her three points, after already having one from her 2-1 defeat to compatriot Nour El Tayeb in the first round and the Egyptian now qualifies with a total of eight points at the top of Group B following today’s victory.

The final spot in the group is now up for grabs when England’s Perry takes on Egypt’s El Tayeb. While, Gohar will face a rematch of last month's British Open final as she takes on France's Camille Serme for a spot in the final.

“I have so much respect for Nour and the way she is playing recently is unbelievable,” said 21-year-old Gohar.

“I learn a lot from her and her character on court. She is a very tough opponent and to beat her you have to play with everything you have and maybe a bit extra as well. I had to find new solutions today and be up to those challenges as well. We were trying to implement our game and I think it was a good match for the crowd as well.

“The major part of my game is to keep the ball alive and I like to put pressure on my opponent so I have to keep the ball warm. She’s the complete opposite and likes to flick and hold her hand a little bit before hitting every shot, which is unbelievable and it’s a contrast of games.

“I think there is [a slight rivalry between the different cities in Egypt], especially the club where Nour comes from as it is a big club and has had very good juniors in the past such as ElShorbagy and Nour and they have a really tough game to play against. There is always a rivalry between Cairo and Alexandria and this competitive thing, I think it’s the main reason we are good at squash in Egypt.”

[6] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 2-1: 6-11, 11-5, 11-7 (33m)

Farag Prevails in Coll Thriller

Egypt’s World No.1 Ali Farag was forced to work hard for his victory against New Zealand’s Paul Coll as he came from a game down to win.

The Egyptian needed to win to keep his hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals alive and following his 2-1 victory it is now in the hands of Mohamed Abouelghar to see which Egyptian will qualify alongside Karim Abdel Gawad.

The two players recently collided in an epic five-game battle at the British Open, which was voted for by fans as the PSA Men’s Match of the Season, and today’s match was again proved to be just as competitive.

Kiwi Coll, who had endured a disappointing start to his first World Tour Finals, came out the blocks firing to take the first game and put Farag under a huge amount of pressure.

The 27-year-old from Greymouth continued to put work into the legs of Farag in a highly competitive second game, which saw Coll put his superb athleticism on full display by showcasing his dives and incredible retrievals. However, Farag managed to keep up with the Kiwi and showed exactly why he is the reigning World Champion as he levelled the scores in the second.

Farag then built up a strong lead in the third, however, it soon got cut down by Coll with the New Zealand player saving numerous match balls in order to try and keep himself in contention but it was not enough as Farag closed out a thrilling 9-11, 12-10, 11-9 victory in 69 minutes.

“Paul is an incredible athlete,” said 27-year-old Farag.

“We all give him a lot of credit for athleticism, but we so often forget the tactical masterclass that he puts together sometimes. He knows how to play against every opponent, he learns and every time he comes back with a different tactic. He is very smart and I’m so proud to get the win today. For the first time ever I care more about the calculations of the group stage than the process and this is something that has annoyed me all night and all day.

“You could see in the first that he was dominating the T area and I wasn’t hitting my targets, so I had to change my tactics with Karim Darwish and Nour [El Tayeb]. I’m very pleased with the way I dealt with things today and how I won today.

“I’ve got something else to care about first because Nour is playing and then after that, whether I go through or not, I am really proud with the way I dealt with things today and at least I can go home with no regrets.”

[1] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [5] Paul Coll (NZL) 2-1: 9-11, 12-10, 11-9 (69m)

El Tayeb in Full Force Against Perry

Egypt’s World No.5 Nour El Tayeb was in unstoppable force against England’s No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry to finish second in Group B and book her place in the semi-finals.

The Egyptian got off to the perfect start as she did not allow any time for Perry to settle into her game plan, taking the first game with a perfect 11-0.

El Tayeb continued to run rampage at the start of the second to move comfortably in the lead before Perry eventually got her first points on the board. However, it proved to be in vain as the Egyptian romped home to claim an 11-0, 11-5 win in just 15 minutes.

She will now face World No.1 Raneem El Welily for a place in the final.

“I’ve no idea how it happened,” said 26-year-old El Tayeb.

“I was so nervous all of today, I kept watching Netflix to try not to think about the match. I felt it was a big match and I needed the win, I wanted to get into the last four of the tournament.

“I’m very happy with how it went, I know SJ can come back from any score gap, so whenever I got to nine I knew she could come back, so I had to keep going because I know how good she can be.

“Personally, I think the best of three suits my game, if we had a third game today then SJ might have come back so I’m happy and believe the best of three has a place. I played a tough match with Nouran yesterday and I feel it works well for any player – physical, talented and I think there is a place for sure.

“I’m very pleased to be in the semis and playing against Raneem will be tough. We are in a Wadi Degla arena, but hopefully the crowd will be even.”

[3] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [7] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 2-0: 11-0, 11-5 (15m)

Abouelghar Causes Shake Up to Qualify

Egypt’s World No.7 Mohamed Abouelghar caused a big shake up in Group A after he defeated compatriot Karim Abdel Gawad 2-0 to qualify top of the group and send Ali Farag crashing out.

Abouelghar needed to win 2-0, following Farag’s 2-1 victory over Coll earlier in the day, in order to qualify and the 25-year-old Egyptian put in a near perfect display against an out of sorts Gawad to defeat his already qualified compatriot and top the group.

The two players both finished on the same amount of points, but due to Abouelghar defeating Gawad today he goes through on the head-to-head record.

Cairo-born Abouelghar will now face compatriot Tarek Momen for a place in the final tomorrow, while Gawad will face World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy.

“I was watching Ali’s match with Paul Coll,” said the 25-year-old afterwards.

“We were both joking about it, but I didn’t know the calculations before. I had it in my mind, like the Liverpool scenario, that anything can happen in sport and if I have the right attitude then I can pull anything through and I’m happy I did.

“I think the motivation for both of us was different. I came here to give myself one more chance and he was already qualified, so I think the motivation was different. I was happy I took advantage of that and I’m so happy to be in the semis.

“I’ve never had a good win in Egypt, so to have it now and on a big stage like this then I hope it doesn’t stop here and keeps going.”

[8] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt [4] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 2-0: 11-9, 11-3 (24m)

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