The semi-finals of the Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection will be an all-Egyptian affair after the top four seeds prevailed in the quarter-finals of the PSA World Tour International 70 event at Birmingham Athletic Club in Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, USA.
Favourite El Shorbagy survived the longest match of the day as he avenged his loss last year to Ong Beng Hee, the Malaysian number one who went on to win the 2012 title.
The 22-year-old world No5 (pictured above with the Malaysian) teetered on the brink of falling two games behind as he trailed 9-6 in the second – but was able to rattle off five-straight points and even the match at one-all.
“It’s so hard to play Beng Hee in that bouncy court because he keeps slowing down the pace,” explained El Shorbagy after his 5-11, 11-9, 11-6, 14-12 victory in 75 minutes. “I found myself down, but I just had to keep digging in ‘til he lost focus. That’s what happened in the second game and the match completely went my way after that.”
El Shorbagy, the 2011 champion, has now reached the MCO semi-finals all three years he has competed in the event. The top seed will face illustrious compatriot Amr Shabana, and added that he’s excited for the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with 33-year-old squash legend.
“It’s good to be able to play Shabana one more time. He’s a player I won’t be playing that often since he only has a few years left in his career. But every time I play him I learn something new,” said El Shorbagy.
“To have four Egyptians in the semis, you never know who’s going to win,” continued El Shorbagy. “When you play someone from the same country as yours, you have to completely forget about rankings because these matches are always different. We all know each other really well and we’re all good friends.”
Shabana, the four-time world champion from Cairo, was the first to take a semis spot as he wasted no time upending Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez 11-9, 11-7, 11-3 in 39 minutes.
“Rodriguez is one of the best athletes around,” said world No8 Shabana of his opponent ranked 17 places below. “He moves very quickly and smoothly so I had to play smartly. If he gets you moving around it makes the court feel very big and when you try to finish a ball off he comes so fast it makes the court very small. I just had to choose my moments and pace myself.”
In a David versus Goliath quarter-final, world No9 and third seed Omar Mosaad (6’4” and 200 pounds) played a tight game to contain speedy Saurav Ghosal (5’6”, 145 pounds), the world No22 from India, and win in straight games 11-6, 11-8, 11-8.
“It’s good and tough at the same time,” Mosaad said of having to play Darwish in the semi-final. “We train all the time together so we know the other player’s game. I’ll try to play well and hope I can win.”
1 Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Ong Beng Hee (MAS) 5-11, 11-9, 11-6, 14-12 (75m)
4 Amr Shabana (EGY) bt Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 11-6, 11-7, 11-3 (39m)
3 Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 11-6, 11-8, 11-8 (56m)
2 Karim Darwish (EGY) bt Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 11-5, 11-4, 6-11, 11-3 (53m)