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Diego Elias celebrates his win over World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy in October's Qatar Classic

2018-19 Season Review: Shocks of the Season - Part One

The CIB PSA World Tour Finals brought the curtain down on the 2018-19 season earlier this month as Egyptian duo Karim Abdel Gawad and Raneem El Welily took silverware in two epic finals held at Cairo’s Mall of Arabia.

It’s been one of the most captivating seasons in recent memory, and we’ll be reviewing all the major talking points from the past 10 months. We’ve already looked at the campaign’s outstanding performers and the players to watch ahead of next season.

Today, we're recapping some of the biggest upsets that the 2018-19 season had to offer.

Diego Elias v Mohamed ElShorbagy: 2018 Qatar Classic – Quarter-Finals

It takes something special to beat Mohamed ElShorbagy – and Peru’s Diego Elias produced the performance of his career so far to topple the defending champion in the quarter-finals of October’s Qatar Classic.

Since first bursting onto the scene with back-to-back victories at the World Junior Championships in 2014 and 2015, Elias had threatened to cause a major upset, but a lack of focus when playing the top ranked players often proved to be his downfall.

But against ElShorbagy in Doha, Elias managed to combine his precocious racket skills with an impressive mental resilience that saw him outlast his opponent after 76-minutes of high-quality squash.

Elias stormed out of the gates, playing some patient, intelligent squash to take the opener. But ElShorbagy grew into the match and forced the Lima-based 22-year-old into tie-breaks over the next three games, with the Egyptian prevailing in two of them to set up a nail-biting decider.

And it was Elias who kept his head to see out the win, earning him a spot in his first ever PSA Platinum semi-final.

Result
[8] Diego Elias (PER) bt [1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 11-8, 11-13, 13-11, 10-12, 11-7 (76m)

Millie Tomlinson v Nicol David: 2018 Hong Kong Open – Second Round

England’s Millie Tomlinson has enjoyed a steady rise up the World Rankings this season and currently sits outside the top 20 – and her improvement was most noticeable when she scalped eight-time World Champion Nicol David with a stunning victory in Hong Kong in November.

David has an unparalleled record in Hong Kong – winning 10 straight titles at the event between 2006-2016 – but it wasn’t a happy hunting ground for the Malaysian this time around as she fell victim to a controlled performance from Tomlinson.

Duffield-based Tomlinson ground out a 12-10 win in the opener, but fell to pieces in the second as David took 11 points on the spin to draw level.

When David followed that up with an 11-8 win in the third, the win looked to be going one way. But Tomlinson, playing without fear, came back to take the fourth and stormed to victory in the fifth against a shell-shocked David to complete a huge win for the 27-year-old.

Result
Millie Tomlinson (ENG) bt [11] Nicol David (MAS) 3-2: 12-10, 0-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6 (49m)

Mohamed Abouelghar v Ali Farag: 2019 Grasshopper Cup – Quarter-Finals

A run to the final of the World Tour Finals was evidence that Mohamed Abouelghar has what it takes to mix it up with the very best – and World No.1 Ali Farag found that out the hard way when he found himself on the end of a masterclass when the pair met in Switzerland in March.

Farag was in the midst of his best ever form after beginning 2019 with wins at the Tournament of Champions and the PSA World Championships – victory at the former even saw him overtake ElShorbagy to top the PSA World Rankings on March 1.

But just four matches into his reign at World No.1, Farag found himself outclassed and outgunned by a sublime performance from his fellow Egyptian as Abouelghar took a 3-1 win in 51 minutes.

Farag fought back from a one-game deficit, but was unable to get Abouelghar out of his rhythm over the course of the next two games as ‘The Bullet’ swept home winner after winner to claim one of the finest wins of his career.

Result
[7] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt [2] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-1: 11-9, 5-11, 11-7, 11-9 (51m)

Salma Hany v Laura Massaro: 2019 Tournament of Champions – Third Round

Egypt’s Salma Hany has been knocking on the door of the top 10 for much of the season and she took a major step towards achieving that goal with a 3-0 dismantling of former World No.1 Laura Massaro under the chandeliers of Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall.

Massaro was appearing in New York for the final time, but just couldn’t get into the match as Hany played a flawless first game, dropping just four points.

The 35-year-old improved marginally in games two and three, but it was all about Hany as the Egyptian closed out the win to earn a spot in her maiden PSA Platinum quarter-final.

Result
[15] Salma Hany (EGY) bt [7] Laura Massaro (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-9, 11-7 (30m)

Youssef Soliman v Karim Abdel Gawad: 2018-19 PSA World Championships – First Round

Chicago's Union Station hosted the 2018-19 PSA World Championships in February - It was squash's first $1 million tournament

ew players at the World Championships in Chicago had a tougher draw than 22-year-old Egyptian Youssef Soliiman, who was pitted against No.4 seed and 2016 champion Karim Abdel Gawad at MetroSquash in round one.

But the underdog produced an astonishing comeback from two games down to send Gawad to a shock exit at squash’s first $1 million tournament.

Gawad, then ranked at No.5 in the world, was one of the frontrunners for the men’s trophy and looked set to secure comfortable passage into the second round of the sport’s biggest event after taking victories in games one and two.

Soliman had the last word though as his determination and resilience came to the forefront and he battled back to complete a famous victory.

Result
Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt [5] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 (87m)

Stay tuned for part two, which will be published on Monday July 1.

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