Egypt’s World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy is through to the last four of the St. James’s Place Canary Wharf Classic after overcoming India’s Saurav Ghosal in a nail-biting last eight clash inside the spectacular East Wintergarden, London.
The pair had met at the Channel VAS Championships in November, where ElShorbagy snuck the win in a fifth game tie-break. That was his eighth consecutive victory over the Indian No.1 across a ten-year period.
This time around the Egyptian took a strong lead in the first, only for Ghosal to fight back and take it 13-11. But ElShorbagy started strongly in the second, going on to level up the match.
He then held a 10-5 lead in the third and deciding game, only to see Ghosal come racing back. Through some superb shot-making, the Indian saved five match balls. However, a series of errors at the crucial stages gifted the victory to ElShorbagy, who has now reached the semi-finals on his last five visits to Canary Wharf, dating back to 2012.
“Saurav has been in good form this tournament,” said ElShorbagy. “To beat Simon (Rösner) who is also playing good squash at the moment, and then he was only two points away from me. I am really happy to see him playing well because he was struggling with his body.”
ElShorbagy’s victory ensures there will be a repeat of last year’s semi-final, as he will meet reigning World Champion, Tarek Momen, for a place in the final. ‘The Viper’ made his way through to the last four after getting the better of Peruvian World No.6 Diego Elias in the first match of the evening.
Tarek Momen (right) got the better of Diego Elias in the last eight
For 40 minutes, the pair battled it out in a high-paced, high-intensity affair, with both players finding their range early and hit some spectacular shots throughout. It was the World Champion who took the opening salvo, thanks to some wonderful play in the front corners, keeping the ball tight with Elias struggling to return the drop shots the Egyptian was putting in.
He found a way to switch it up in the second, and his power play was enough to take the match into a decider but it would be Momen who took the win, as he stretched out a lead in the third. Although the ‘Peruvian Puma’ was able to save a couple of match balls, it was the World No.3 that booked his place in the last four in London.
“I am very happy with the way I played today. A much more focused performance, not too many errors, which is what I look for. I think I played really well throughout the whole match,” Momen said.
“The errors I made in the second were not unforced, it was more the high pressure rallies that we were playing. It got to me for a small part and you only need one or two points to change the momentum.
“I was happy with my short game today. For a while I was not so sure if I was at the top of my game in that department. It was still very good but not at the level I wanted, but today I was very close to how I want it to be, so it is a positive thing.”
Completing the all-Egyptian line-up in the last four of the St, James’s Place Canary Wharf Classic will be World No.2 Ali Farag and World No.8 Marwan ElShorbagy, who will meet in the second semi-final on Thursday evening.
Farag overcame compatriot Fares Dessouky in the last match of the quarter-finals, while ElShorbagy put on a masterclass to beat Scotland’s Greg Lobban, who had been appearing in the last eight of a PSA Gold tournament for the first time in his career.
St. James’s Place Canary Wharf Classic: Quarter-Final Results
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 2-1: 11-13, 11-7, 12-10 (51m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt  Diego Elias (PER) 2-1: 11-8, 8-11, 11-6 (40m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Greg Lobban (SCO) 2-0: 11-3, 11-8 (27m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Fares Dessouky (EGY) 2-1: 12-10, 9-11, 5-2 rtd (51m)
St. James’s Place Canary Wharf Classic: Semi-Final Draw
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Ali Farag (EGY)