Day three at the J.P. Morgan China Squash Open sees the remaining players in both the men's and women's draws battle it out for a place in the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour Gold tournament in Shanghai.
The evening matches were due to take place on the glass court atop the Peninsula Shanghai, which overlooks the Bund, but poor weather conditions have meant the matches have been moved to the SECA Academy.
World No.1 and defending champion Raneem El Welily will face compatriot Salma Hany there, while men's World No.1 Ali Farag faces England's former World No.12 Tom Richards.
2019 British Open winners Nouran Gohar and Mohamed ElShorbagy will face unseeded duo Yathreb Adel and Leo Au, respectively, after they caused shocks yesterday to upset the seedings.
Order of Play
(All times are local GMT+8)
18:30  Raneem El Welily (EGY) v  Salma Hany (EGY)
19:15 Leo Au (HKG) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
20:30 Yathreb Adel (EGY) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
21:15  Ali Farag (EGY) v  Tom Richards (ENG)
El Welily Powers Through to Semis
Raneem El Welily (front) in action against Salma Hany
Egypt’s World No.1 Raneem El Welily powered past compatriot and World No.14 Salma Hany to keep her title defence going strong in Shanghai.
The defending champion did not let the change of venue to the traditional courts of the SECA Academy due to adverse weather affect her as she continued to pick up from where she left off last season by recording an 11-5, 11-9, 11-4 win in 25 minutes.
The World No.1 will now face compatriot and World Junior champion Hania El Hammamy for a place in the final.
“I’m definitely happy to come out of today with a 3-0 win,” said El Welily afterwards.
“Salma is not an easy play to face at all. She’s very skilful with the racket and she’s proven over the past few years that she is a very strong contender to be top 10 very soon. I haven’t played her in ages on the Tour at least. We train together sometimes, but on the PSA Tour maybe 2013 or even before.
“It’s good to have played this tournament against two different faces and I’m looking forward to playing tomorrow’s match.
“We’ve been prepared for the possibility of a venue change since the start of the week, so when we woke up today and saw the amount of rain out of the window we could tell what was going to happen.
“Hania [El Hammamy] is a very strong player and I’m looking forward to playing against her. We train with the same coach – Haitham Effat – so, I’m sure he will be very pleased to have two players in the semis.”
ElShorbagy Survives Tough Battle with Au
Mohamed ElShorbagy (right) v Leo Au (left)
Egypt’s World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy prevailed in a tough battle with Hong Kong’s Leo Au to reach the semi-finals of the China Squash Open and set up a thrilling last four clash with younger brother Marwan ElShorbagy.
The Hong Kong player started strongly as he adapted to the change of venue with much more ease after playing at the SECA Academy throughout the week to take a surprising 11-3 win in the first.
Au continued to cause problems for the out-of-sorts ElShorbagy, but the Egyptian was able to sneak the second to draw level, before eventually taking the third.
The Egyptian stepped it up another level in the fourth, getting himself fired up on court to take the hard-earned victory by a 3-11, 11-8, 15-13, 11-8 scoreline.
ElShorbagy will now face his younger brother, Marwan, tomorrow for a place in the final after he defeated Omar Mosaad earlier in the day.
“I felt like I played better than yesterday,” said ElShorbagy afterwards. “I thought Leo Au played so well today, I think that’s one of the best performances he has played against me.
“I’m pleased with how I kept pushing and that I managed to beat him today and really proud of that performance. Sometimes at the start of the season you want some confidence in your physicality and tough matches like these help to prove that you have trained hard and give you confidence.
“After that tough match yesterday and then we had to play on different courts today because of the rain. Top players need to adapt to these kind of situations and you can’t make excuses and I always tell myself that ‘you are lucky’, that even if they aren’t the best solutions, our sport has solutions for if it rains because some sports you can’t play with rain at all.
“Even after that tough third game on the tie-break, I thought I had him, but he kept pushing and pushing. He had a brutal match, the same as me, last night and I’m really proud I won today. I felt much better on court today and feeling better every day.
“Every summer we always train together, but this summer we didn’t. He [Marwan] actually trained in Egypt, while I was in England, so we haven’t really seen each other at all in a few months. We always have tough battles and mentally, it is hard to deal with for both of us. I watched him a little bit today and he is definitely back stronger and squash needs different characters in the sport and he definitely brings something different to our sport.”
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Leo Au (HKG) 3-1: 3-11, 11-8, 15-13, 11-8 (68m)
Gohar Battles with Adel to Advance
Nouran Gohar (right) clashes with Yathreb Adel (left)
Egypt’s World No.4 Nouran Gohar was forced to work hard for her spot in the last four in Shanghai after compatriot Yathreb Adel came from 2-0 down to force the match to a tense decider.
2019 British Open champion Gohar started strongly to take a 2-0 lead, before Adel, like she did yesterday against England’s former World No.3 Alison Waters, battled back to take the next two.
The two Egyptians then battled it out on court with Gohar eventually reigning victorious to book her place in the semi-finals, where she will take on World No.5 Nour El Tayeb for a place in her fourth China Squash Open final.
“It was more my mental performance today,” said Gohar afterwards. “I felt like I was controlling the game well in the first two. But she’s very experienced and we have had tough battles since we were juniors, it’s never easy when you are playing a good friend and you have had a rivalry since juniors.
“It was very tricky and I’m pleased to get the win at the end. She’s hard to play against, it can seem like she’s tired but then she hits really good shots and she reads the game really well, so it’s tough to play an opponent like that.
“I just had to focus on my own game plan and just keep going, even if it wasn’t going my way for two games I just really stuck in there.
“It will be tough tomorrow, me and Nour [El Tayeb] always have really tough battles, I think the last one was the World Tour Finals, but we are both tough fighters on court, so I’m sure tomorrow will be another tough battle.”
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Yathreb Adel (EGY) 3-2: 11-4, 11-5, 9-11, 9-11, 11-6 (54m)
Farag Prevails Against Resilient Richards
Ali Farag (right) v Tom Richards (left)
Egypt’s World No.1 Ali Farag had to battle hard to secure a semi-final berth after he defeated England’s Tom Richards in four games at the SECA Academy in Shanghai.
The Egyptian took a tight first game on the tie-break with Richards showcasing the kind of skill that saw him reach a career high of World No.12, but it was Farag who was able to close out the crucial first game.
Richards bravely battled back in the second, however, to level the scores before Farag once again showed his dominance to take the third. The Englishman was not done there though as he continued to push Farag into all four areas of the court.
Farag showed exactly why he is World No.1 though as he dominanted the fifth to win 14-12, 6-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5 in 66 minutes.
Farag will now face India’s World No.10 Saurav Ghosal for a place in the final.
“I felt like he was controlling most of the match. He was playing at his own pace and making all the angles, so full credit to hi. I’m extremely proud of myself to get through such a tough match.
“This traditional court is quite different, the straight lines on the backhand side aren’t quite as accurate and I like to play on that side and take advantage of it, but the fact that this wasn’t there meant that I had to find another way and this wasn’t easy against Tom.
“I’m expecting a lot of skilful shots from Saurav, he likes to move opponents deep into the corners and varying the pace. With his height, he is fast and picks up a lot of balls, but I’m glad to hopefully be on the glass.”
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Tom Richards (ENG) 3-2: 14-12, 6-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5 (66m)