The semi-finals of the Manchester Open take place today, with action beginning at 17:00 (GMT+1) at the National Squash Centre as the first tournament back after the enforced suspension comes toward a fitting finale.
For the fifth time in the last twelve months, Camille Serme and Hania El Hammamy will face off against each other. The winner of that will do battle in the final with either Sarah-Jane Perry or Nour El Tayeb, who face off in the second women’s clash.
There is the possibility of an all-ElShorbagy showdown in the final, three years on from their World Championship final clash at the very same venue. Mohamed does battle with Paul Coll, while Marwan will face Karim Abdel Gawad.
You can catch all the action live from the National Squash Centre on SQUASHTV (Rest of World), Eurosport Player (Europe only), and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour (Indian sub-continent only).
You can also keep up with the live scores from the event here.
Here’s the Order of Play
(All times are local – GMT+1)
The first match of the evening sees Hania El Hammamy take on the tournament’s top seed Camille Serme, with the pair meeting once again after some fearless battles over the last year.
The pair have met seven times before on the PSA World Tour, with Serme winning five of those. However, two of the last three have gone the way of the young Egyptian, with all of those clashes being longer than 65 minutes. We could be in for a treat to start the night.
Serme has come through all three of her matches in Manchester this week with 3-1 scorelines. The Frenchwoman, who sits at World No.3, has gotten the better of USA’s Sabrina Sobhy, Belgium’s Nele Gilis and New Zealand’s Joelle King, who was the defending Manchester Open champion.
In complete contrast, El Hammamy has spent just 74 minutes on court, and not a single match has gone past the half an hour mark yet this week. She has dominated all three opponents, in Frenchwoman Enora Villard, and compatriots Nadine Shahin and Salma Hany. The Egyptian is yet to drop a game so far this tournament.
Can El Hammamy keep up that wicked form this week and claim a third victory in their last four matches? Or will Serme get revenge for their last meeting, where she lost out at the Black Ball Open?
The first men’s match of the evening will see World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy take on World No.5 Paul Coll, in what could be the match of the evening.
The duo have done battle six times on the PSA World Tour before, with the Egyptian having a healthy 5-1 advantage over the Kiwi. However, their last meeting, which came at the Windy City Open earlier this year, went the way of Coll.
ElShorbagy has seemingly got better as he has gone on this week, despite winning both of his early matches 3-0. He downed Raphael Kandra in the first round, before overcoming former World No.1 James Willstrop in straight games in the last 16. Although he needed four games to beat World No.10 Joel Makin in the quarter-finals, it was his best performance of the week so far.
On the other hand, Paul Coll has spent more than an hour more on court, and is yet to win a match in straight games at the National Squash Centre this week. The Kiwi beat Frenchman Baptiste Masotti and Egypt’s Fares Dessouky in four games apiece, before needing a deciding game to win a rollercoaster of a match with World Champion Tarek Momen.
Will ‘the Beast’ continue his imperious form and extend his lead at the top of the World Rankings? Or can Coll overcome last night’s encounter to cause another upset in this one?
The second women’s semi-final will see English No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry and World No.4 Nour El Tayeb do battle, for a place in the showpiece finale in Manchester tomorrow night.
The head-to-head does not look good for the Englishwoman, with El Tayeb having won all seven of their previous meetings. Several of those clashes have gone to five, but the Egyptian won the last battle 3-1, in the final of the Cleveland Classic back in February.
Perry has come through against three different types of players so far this week, besting Scotland’s Lisa Aitken, Canadian No.1 Hollie Naughton and Welshwoman Tesni Evans to reach this point. She has only been on court for 117 minutes, and is yet to hit her best yet so far.
However, El Tayeb is yet to drop a game, with convincing performances against England’s Jasmine Hutton and Australia’s Donna Lobban in the early rounds. She was tested more in her quarter-final with US No.1 Amanda Sobhy, but was still able to come out on top 3-0.
How will the two contrasting styles go in this one? Can Perry claim a first victory over the Egyptian? Or will El Tayeb continue her 100% record over the World No.5?
The closing match of the evening is the only all-Egyptian clash in the semi-finals, as Karim Abdel Gawad takes on Marwan ElShorbagy for a place in Tuesday night’s final.
This will be the 12th meeting between the pair, with Gawad holding a 7-4 advantage. Surprisingly, this will only be their second ever meeting in the last four of an event, and it was Gawad that won the semi-final clash at the Jena International No.1 back in June 2012, the first duel between these two Egyptians.
In typical Karim Abdel Gawad fashion, he started his week slowly, and had to go to five games to down Frenchman Lucas Serme. He has then gotten the better of Declan James and Simon Rösner in more convincing style to make the last four in Manchester.
Marwan ElShorbagy has gone the other way, which his matches getting harder as the week has progressed. He downed Benjamin Aubert in straight games before overcoming a tricky challenge from English No.1 Adrian Waller in four. Last night’s quarter-final against Ali Farag lasted almost an hour and a half, with ‘the Jackal’ eventually coming out on top in five.
Can ElShorbagy battle through the fatigue and make another final at the National Squash Centre? Or can Gawad use his skills to overcome his fellow countryman?