The CIB PSA World Tour Finals semi-finals take place today at the Mall of Arabia in Cairo, Egypt as we take one step closer to finding out who our champions will be.
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Up first is an all-Egyptian battle between World No.1 Raneem El Welily and World No.5 Nour El Tayeb as they go head-to-head for a place in the final at 19:00 local time (UTC+2).
The two Egyptians are no strangers to facing each other on the PSA Tour this season, with the duo coming up against each other three times already this season.
El Welily claimed the last victory in the last four stage of the DPD Open in Eindhoven en route to lifting the title, while El Tayeb got the better of the World No.1 in the semi-finals of the PSA World Championships in February.
El Welily has been in strong form so far this week, winning all of her Group A matches, while El Tayeb won two of her matches including a dominant victory over England’s Sarah-Jane Perry yesterday to book her place in the last four.
They are followed on court by defending champion and World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy and former World No.1 and World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad.
ElShorbagy and Gawad are also familiar rivals on the PSA Tour, with the two Egyptians going head-to-head on 13 previous occasions.
ElShorbagy holds the advantage with 10 victories to Gawad's three, including four victories this year alone. Gawad's last win over the World No.2 came in December's Black Ball Squash Open when Gawad was in scintillating form to lift the title and automatically qualify for the World Tour Finals.
They are followed on court by the second women’s semi-final which will see Egypt’s Nouran Gohar pitted against France’s Camille Serme.
The last meeting between these two players is still fresh in the memory with Gohar getting the better of the Frenchwoman in the final of last month's British Open.
Gohar was in formidable form in Hull to power to victory and write her name in the squash history books with her second major title.
Serme, meanwhile, has plenty of experience on the big occasion and will be looking to get revenge on the young Egyptian when these two go head-to-head later this evening.
The last semi-final sees another all-Egyptian battle with Mohamed Abouelghar taking on Tarek Momen.
Abouelghar claimed a huge victory yesterday by defeating Gawad 2-0 in the group stages to ensure that he qualified ahead of World No.1 Ali Farag and also at the top of Group A.
‘The Bullet’ has been in strong form all week, claiming two victories over Gawad and New Zealand’s Paul Coll to ensure he reached the last four at the World Tour Finals for the first time in his career.
Momen will also be featuring in his first semi-final at the season-ending event after getting the better of Peru’s Diego Elias yesterday in a straight shootout to qualify.
Abouelghar and Momen have met nine times previously on the PSA Tour with the latter taking all of those victories. Can Abouelghar cause more upsets in Cairo?
El Welily Secures Final Berth
Egypt’s World No.1 Raneem El Welily booked her place in the final of the PSA World Tour Finals after defeating compatriot and World No.5 Nour El Tayeb 2-1 in a thrilling battle.
These two players are no strangers to facing each other on the PSA Tour with the two Egyptians facing each other three times already this season with two of those going all the way to five in epic battles.
El Tayeb last recorded a victory over El Welily in the semi-finals of the PSA World Championships in February, which was voted by fans as the Women’s PSA Match of the Season, however, she was unable to replicate that feat tonight.
World No.1 El Welily, who is aiming to win her first World Tour Finals title, started strongly to open up a lead, before El Tayeb began to fight back. Both players put their best squash on display with El Welily particularly showcasing her flair with some outrageous shots to take a 1-0 lead.
JOKE skills from— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) June 13, 2019
RaneemElWelily</a> & <a href="https://twitter.com/NourElTayeb?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">NourElTayeb!!!
You won't see many better rallies than that! #WorldTourFinals #squash_at_thepark pic.twitter.com/n4cfhhI8WU
El Tayeb came back strongly in the second, however, as it was her turn to build up a comfortable lead before El Welily showed her mental toughness to come back into the game and save two game balls from her compatriot. It was not enough to stop El Tayeb from drawing level though as she disrupted the rhythm of El Welily to push the World No.1 into all areas of the court.
In the third, El Welily was able to power to the finish line as she took the final game for the loss of just one point to book her place in the final.
“I think I just tried to be more active [in the third] rather than being passive in the second,” said 30-year-old El Welily afterwards.
“She played really well and pushed me to the back and then dragged me to the front to make the gap seem big. I’m glad with the way I fought in the second, I came all the way back to 9-10 and couldn’t quite make it, but it made a difference somehow, so I’m very happy to come out as the winner today.
“I guess we just enjoy it, I see players doing that all the time on court, when they weren’t practicing quickly they used to always play shots like that, so I grew up wanting to do that and play that fun part of the game, just as much as I wanted to win.
“Nour is obviously very skilled with the racket and it’s a gift from good, I really appreciate it.
“To finish the season with a win would be absolutely fantastic. No pressure, the two other players are so strong, they are playing their best games nowadays, so may the best player win and hopefully tomorrow I play some good squash and if I win, I’ll be very happy.”
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 2-1: 11-9, 9-11, 11-1 (38m)
Gawad Takes Out Defending Champion ElShorbagy
Egypt’s former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad reached the final of the World Tour Finals for the first time in his career after defeating defending champion and World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy in Cairo.
ElShorbagy had claimed the last four wins on the bounce against the ‘Baby-faced Assassin’, however, it was not his day as the former World No.1 struggled, producing an uncharacteristic four errors at the end of the first game to hand Gawad the lead, before the Egyptian then powered to victory for the loss of two points in the second.
Gawad’s last victory over ElShorbagy came at the Black Ball Open in December, when the 27-year-old lifted the PSA Platinum title and Gawad proved that he was a dangerous opponent on home soil in Cairo as he claimed an 11-8, 11-2 victory in 28 minutes with ElShorbagy not at his usual high standards.
“It was a very tough first game,” said Alexandria-born Gawad.
“Mohamed is the best experienced player on tour. He was No.1 for a long time, World Champion and has all the titles. I have a lot of respect for him and he is an idol for a lot of the kids in Egypt and all over the world.
“It’s very unexpected. Getting married on Friday and now being in the final of the World Tour Finals. When you’re married on the Friday, you don’t expect too much to do at the tournament and you don’t want to go on court, but once you get here and on court and you see everyone cheering for you it gives you a lot of power and you just relax to play your best squash. I’m really happy to be in the finals and playing in Egypt tomorrow.
“It’s very special, I love playing here in Egypt and in my hometown. I’m really happy that a lot of tournaments now are being played in Egypt and we’re very lucky to have a bank like CIB sponsor all of the tournaments, it’s great to have someone supporting you and so thanks to them.”
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 2-0: 11-8, 11-2 (28m)
Serme Breaks Egyptian Dominance to Reach Final
France’s World No.3 Camille Serme broke up the Egyptian dominance at the World Tour Finals after defeating Egypt’s World No.4 Nouran Gohar in straight games to reach the final.
The Frenchwoman has been beaten on the last two occasions by the Egyptian, at the El Gouna International and the British Open final, however, Serme extracted her revenge as she put in a determined performance to overcome the in-form Gohar.
21-year-old Gohar held the lead all the way in the first game before Serme fought back to hold game ball on the tie-break. However, a compelling first game went the distance as the two players constantly traded points before the French player held her nerve to close out a 20-18 first game.
Serme led in the second before Gohar fought back in another evenly matched game, before Serme was able to break the resistance of the British Open winner to show that she had learned her lessons from previous defeats and executed her game plan to perfection to close out 20-18, 11-9 in 37 minutes.
“I feel over the moon,” said the 30-year-old Frenchwoman.
“Sorry for the crowd obviously they were cheering for the home Egyptian player, but I’m just so happy because Nouran has been playing really well the last few months. In El Gouna and at the British she beat me quite comfortably and I was happy today that I found some good solutions.
“I’m very proud and very lucky to have had a few friends here clapping for me. I know a lot of people were watching at home, my husband, family and friends so I just thought about them. Even Philippe [Signoret], my coach – I’m really happy for them as well.
“It’s funny to play against Raneem again as we played in the pool matches. I can have a second chance in the same tournament, so I’m just going to enjoy and give it my all.”
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt  Nouran Gohar (EGY) 2-0: 20-18, 11-9 (37m)
Abouelghar Sets Up Final Clash with Gawad
Egypt’s World No.7 Mohamed Abouelghar will face former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad in the final of the PSA World Tour Finals after he defeated World No.3 Tarek Momen in Cairo Egypt.
The two Cairo-born players have been playing their best squash this season and Abouelghar showed exactly how much he had improved after he recorded his first win over compatriot Momen after not beating the World No.3 in their last nine encounters.
PSA World Championship runner-up Momen started better as he made the court bigger to cause problems for Abouelghar and take away his shot-making prowess to take the first game.
25-year-old Abouelghar came back strongly in a shorter second game as Momen lost his focus slightly to allow the World No.7 to take full advantage and draw level. From then on the momentum was with the ‘Bullet’ as he was able to turn the screw and keep his composure to close out a tight 9-11, 11-5, 11-8 victory in 55 minutes and reach his first major final.
“10-0 would have looked so bad,” said 25-year-old Abouelghar afterwards.
“I at least had to make the gap closer between me and Tarek. For people who don’t know I have not beaten Tarek in training, so to come here and win against him on a big stage like this is a bonus and I’m very happy.
“I lost to Tarek five times this season and every time was closer, apart from the last time which was 3-0 in 20 minutes, so I was figuring out a plan. Every time I played him I felt like I was closer and I’m happy with the way I managed it until the end.
“I have played against Karim 100 times in training and in tournaments and to play him in the final of a major event is a bonus. We always have great matches and I know tomorrow will be different to yesterday but hopefully the same result.”
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt  Tarek Momen (EGY) 2-1: 9-11, 11-5, 11-8 (55m)