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Mohamed ElShorbagy

Oracle NetSuite Open Day Three: Player Reaction

The quarter-finals of the 2021 Oracle NetSuite Open takes place at the spectacular Embarcadero Plaza in San Francisco today, and you can stay up to date with all the reaction from those in action on the glass court right here.

Former World Champions Mohamed ElShorbagy and Karim Abdel Gawad get the action underway, with top seed Nouran Gohar on straight after, against another fellow Egyptian, in Salma Hany.

World No.1 Ali Farag will be in action in the evening session, up against Welshman Joel Makin, before Sarah-Jane Perry and Joshna Chinappa round things off in the final match of the evening. US No.1 Amanda Sobhy will also be in action, up against Wales’ Tesni Evans

SQUASHTV – and ON Sport for viewers in Egypt – are the only places to watch all the action from the glass unfold.

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We will bring you the results and all of the latest player reaction right here. Play starts at 13:00 local time (GMT-7).

You can also keep up with the live scores from the event here.

Order of Play
Times are local GMT-7

ElShorbagy Battles Past Gawad To Make Semis

World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy is the first player through to the semi-finals of the Oracle NetSuite Open, after he got the better of compatriot Karim Abdel Gawad in the longest match of the tournament so far.

The pair battled it out for 57 minutes at Embarcadero Plaza and treated the crowd to some incredible action, with the first two games of the contest going to tie-breaks.

Both players saved several game balls in the first, before the ‘Beast of Alexandria’ took it 16-14, but Gawad then fought back in the second game. He saved two match balls before taking the second 12-10 to force the match into a decider.

ElShorbagy was able to take back control in the final game of the match though, winning it 11-5 to eventually book his spot in the last four of the Gold level tournament.

“He has been struggling with a big injury in his foot and he’s getting back. Every tournament you watch him, he is getting better and better. It would be stupid of any other top player to think that he is past his time, he is sending warnings to everyone,” the World No.2 said about his opponent.

“The way he played today, after I won the first game, the Gawad I know, he wouldn’t have come back as strong in the second as he did, but he’s coming back with a lot of hunger. He is the most talented player of my generation and to watch him, I’m a fan of his game. There were moments during the match when I just kept clapping for him because it was too good. The only thing I did was fight and accept there are some points where he is going to make me look like a fool, but all I wanted to do was win the last point.

“In a tense battle like that only a few points make the difference. Literally the first two games we were point by point. He could’ve won the first game and I could’ve won the second game, but the third, the only time I could see him his lose focus was at 5-5 and those few seconds were the difference between who won today. I just tried to not be the player who lost focus and luckily I came out as the winner. I’m really glad to be back here in the semis again.

“You have to study your opponent before you get on court, it’s like a business, you need to know the people you go into business with. I need to know their character, I need to know their breaking point – I need to know everything about their character to study them. I’m just glad I came out as winner.

“I prefer playing in the afternoon, I remember [Amr] Shabana once told me that the best time for matches is the morning because if you win you get to live the rest of the day as a normal human being, if you lose you can take a flight back home. Luckily, I get to enjoy watching the other guys battle it out, but I keep hearing about how great the ice cream is and it’s so annoying.”

[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [6] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 2-1: 16-14, 10-12, 11-5 (57m)

Hany Downs Top Seed Gohar

World No.9 Salma Hany is into the semi-finals of the Oracle NetSuite Open after she took out the tournament’s top seed, and fellow Egyptian, Nouran Gohar, in a deciding game at Embarcadero Plaza in San Francisco.

Gohar came into the PSA World Tour Gold level tournament off the back of winning the CIB Egyptian Open in front of the Pyramids, and in the end, she was able to close out the first game 11-9.

From there though, it was all Hany, as the event’s No.6 seed won six straight points at the end of the second game to come from 5-6 down to win it 11-6 and take the match into a decider.

Hany then held a lead throughout the entirety of the final game, but ‘the Terminator’ brought it back to 9-9. However, the World No.9 was able to win the last two points of the contest to book her place in the semi-finals.

“I’m pretty happy. When I stepped on court today all I was thinking is that I don’t want to go home too soon from this tournament,” Hany said.

“I was really enjoying my time on court and every time my head went to the score and I was getting close, I just told myself to enjoy every rally and not rush the win. Nouran is an unbelievable player, we go way back since we were nine-years-old. She’s younger than me, but I learned a lot from her. She is such a fighter and to share the court with her today was a pleasure. I’m glad I came out the winner.

“I just kept my head in the rally itself and forgot about the score, I wanted to spend as much time as I could on court. I wanted to win, but I also wanted to enjoy playing here and I think that made the difference. I wasn’t rushing winners, when Nouran is down she gets scary and it’s like taking a piece of meat to a lion. You don’t want to look at her, you just want to focus on your game.”

[6] Salma Hany (EGY) bt [1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) 2-1: 9-11, 11-6, 11-9 (35m)

Coll Comes From Behind To Beat ElShorbagy

New Zealand’s Paul Coll is into the last four in San Francisco, after battling back from a game down to defeat Egypt's Marwan ElShorbagy in the quarter-finals of the Oracle NetSuite Open.

The Kiwi, who won last month's British Open and is now at a career-high World No.3, found himself behind after the first game, with ElShorbagy putting the ball in all the right places on the glass court.

However, Coll was able to fight back, and was soon level after winning the second game 11-5. He then went on to take the third 11-6 to set up a semi-final clash with the older ElShorbagy, Mohamed, on Sunday night.

“I think it was a tricky match before the first game to be honest. Down that backhand was so tight all game, he’s so good at controlling the pace,” Coll said.

I kept trying to switch it but it’s such a cold ball that trying to get it past him on the forehand was quite tricky. It was a real battle of accuracy and who could get on the volley and apply the pressure from there. I was a bit short and wasn’t using my height in the first game and he probably hit six or seven outright winners. I had to find my length a bit more and get him out of the service box area.

“I play the older one next! Unfortunately for us squash players, there is two of them out there. They are both world class players and it’s going to be tough, I’m going to learn a lot from today. I think I’m playing at night time, which is a different challenge again but I’m going to learn from that first set today, where I got it wrong and come out better. If I don’t start better then it’s going to be the same story, so I’ll learn from that and start better tomorrow.

“When you are playing this top class players you have to review the match point by point. There’s no point waiting until it’s over to review it, I had to work out what was going wrong in that first set and make a change straight away because if I waited until after the match, I would’ve been off the court 2-0. I’ll analyse and I’m sure my coach will send me some thoughts and we’ll sort that out and focus on tomorrow.”

[4] Paul Coll (NZL) bt [5] Marwan ElShorbagy (NZL) 2-1: 6-11, 11-5, 11-6 (39m)

King Downs El Hammamy To Advance

Joelle King secured back-to-back victories for New Zealand, as she followed Paul Coll into the semis with a victory over Hania El Hammamy in the last eight.

The World No.8 started strongly, and was 7-2 up in the first game in a flash. She rounded the first off to take it 11-5, before then holding off a fightback from the Egyptian in the second game to win in just 25 minutes.

“It was one of those matches where I wasn’t really listening to what the score was,” King said after the match.

“Hania the last few matches I have been up against her and she’s come back and beaten me, so there’s just no letting up with someone like her. She is so hungry, she’s an amazing player and the future of our sport. I just didn’t let up at all and I felt really good.

“I’ve got a bone to pick with whoever decided to announce ages before the start of matches! There’s 12 years between us, but I think as they say you get more experienced as you get older and I think today, I played with more experience. I played the court well as opposed to just thinking about my opponent and I think everyone who has won this week has done just that. I’ll say that age was on my side.

“Salma [Hany] is top eight in the world and Nouran [Gohar] has been playing some amazing squash. She has been making final after final and Salma was hungry, once again a youngster. Tomorrow will be the best player on the day will win and whoever plays the court best. Salma isn’t going to beat Nouran if she isn’t playing well, so the player in front of you is all that you can look at and each match as it comes. I’m excited to be back in San Fran and in a semi-final and we’ll see what we can do.”

[5] Joelle King (NZL) bt [4] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 2-0: 11-5, 11-5 (25m)

Asal Downs Momen To Make Semis

World No.9 Mostafa Asal is into the semi-finals of another tournament, after he defeated former World Champion Tarek Momen in straight games at Embarcadero Plaza in San Francisco.

This was the first meeting between the pair since their fractious encounter at the CIB PSA World Tour Finals, but this battle was a much fairer clash.

It was Asal that came flying out of the blocks, and despite a slight Momen comeback in the middle part of the game, the ‘Raging Bull’ took the first 11-8. He then carried that momentum into the second, and held control of it, winning it 11-6 to secure the victory and book his spot in the last eight.

“It is a really difficult feeling to play again so much intense squash after the World Tour Finals. I was down at the British Open and CIB Egyptian Open, some difficult times. So to be able to compete in an amazing city and in front of an amazing crowd. It’s packed today!” Asal said.

“First of all, I want to say to Yassin [Kouritam], he is one talented player, so I want to say to him to get well soon for sure! I wish him a speedy recovery!

“All the squash fans know what happened after the match at the World Tour Finals. Tarek wrote on social media some bad stuff with me, but I have all the respect to Tarek. I have been watching him since I was a kid. we were at the same club so I grew up watching him play, so I said sorry to him for anything and I wanted to play a great match with him.

“Actually, I got a present, a PlayStation 5, so I have early access for FIFA 22, so I will go back and play that!”

[7] Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt [3] Tarek Momen (EGY) 2-0: 11-8, 11-6 (32m)

Home Favourite Sobhy Into Last Four

In front of a raucous home crowd in San Francisco, US No.1 Amanda Sobhy is into the semi-finals of the Oracle NetSuite Open, after she got the better of World No.13 Tesni Evans.

Following her nine-minute spectacular on the second day of the tournament, Sobhy was fresh ahead of her quarter-final with the Welshwoman, and she showed it in the first game, needing just five minutes to take it 11-3.

The second was much closer, and Evans threatened to push the match into a decider, but the US No.1, and the tournament’s No.2 seed, made her way through to the semis in straight games, winning the second 11-9.

“It's the best of three format, it's very different to three out of five. it requires speed and precision so if you get your tactics right from the beginning and be aggressive, which is my natural game, you can capitalise on it without spending too much endurance, which I am happy about! It makes it more of a sprint,” Sobhy said.

“Come out firing and put the gas on and go, go, go! Hopefully I won't run out if it goes to three games, but I am glad I won that in two.

“It is so nice to have Tes back. She is a great player and a great person on and off the court and I am really enjoying having her back injury-free. I know she has had a tough year. I knew how skilful she was and if you give her time, she is so good, so I tried to cut that time away from her.

“We're feeling good, I am taking it one at a time. I am relatively fresh. that was a strenuous nine minutes yesterday but I am looking forward to tomorrow. I am so glad to have this tournament again, I love it and I am so glad to be back in front of a home crowd.”

[2] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [8] Tesni Evans (WAL) 2-0: 11-3, 11-9 (18m)

Farag Battles Past Makin

World No.1 Ali Farag is into the semi-finals of the Oracle NetSuite Open after defeating Welshman Joel Makin in an enthralling encounter on the glass court at Embarcadero Plaza.

The pair produced a wonderful contest, with barley any traffic issues, and with both players showing their ability to move to all four corners of the court with no problems whatsoever.

Farag eventually was able to squeeze his way into the last four, winning 11-9, 12-10, and he will now face compatriot Mostafa Asal in the semi-finals on Sunday evening in San Francisco.

“I always love getting on court with someone who gives maximum effort. He is the prime example of 110% effort. The more respectable thing was that that point got me to 7-7. He was doing a lot of work and he then won the next two points. Any other player would probably have folded at that point and I thought I had the confidence, but it is a testament to his work ethic. He got a standing ovation from the crowd and rightly so!” Farag said.

“He dives a lot, he is a heavy sweater so we want to make sure that there is no sweat, especially on this court. It is such a dead court that it supports an attacking brand of squash. Both of us were going for it and neither of us wanted to slip. He stopped when he saw me slip and this is a testament of how respectful he is and I enjoyed every single bit of this match.

“This is how we are brought up to play this sport. To give it 100% but to respect your opponent and respect the crowd, respect the referee. He is such a warrior really, but he always gives maximum respect to his opponent.

“It is very tough. The best-of-three promotes an attacking brand of squash. Today I won 2-0, 11-9 and 12-10. A couple of points either way and I could have been the one already in the hotel and he was the one talking to you. I am not a very good loser, I tell you that! I am very happy well to be through. We saw how well Mostafa [Asal] played today and I am looking forward to another great match tomorrow.”

[2] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [8] Joel Makin (WAL) 2-0: 11-9, 12-10 (35m)

Perry Sets Up Semi-Final Clash With Sobhy

Sarah-Jane Perry and Amanda Sobhy will go head-to-head in the semi-finals of the Oracle NetSuite Open on Sunday, in a repeat of the 2015 final, after Perry got the better of India’s Joshna Chinappa.

The Englishwoman started her quarter-final slowly, with Chinappa racing into an early lead, but she was able to claw it back, and eventually take it on a tie-break 12-10.

The second game was more comfortable for the two-time Oracle NetSuite Open champion, who won this event in 2017 and 2018. She ran away with it in the end, taking it 11-6 to book her place in the last four.

“She came out really strong in that first game and she is improving all the time. I think her self belief is increasing all the time. The last couple of times we have played, she has really got stuck in. All credit to Joshna for that!

“I was not finding the back corners at all at the start of that first game and she doesn’t mind playing around the middle for the whole game. I had to get my legs going, get my length going and even if I didn’t manage to bring the first game back, I knew I had to get them going in case I lost that game. Thankfully, I scraped it and the second was a fight, but I managed to pull away in the end and find those back corners, which I was pleased with.

“Well I will definitely have all the home support tomorrow [against Amanda Sobhy, jokingly]. We have had some really good matches over the years, and I think it’s 2015 that we played in the final here, so that’s a long time ago. We have played a lot since then. She is playing fantastic squash but I will be really up for that tomorrow and I want to make it to a fourth Oracle NetSuite Open final.”

[3] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [7] Joshna Chinappa (IND) 2-0: 12-10, 11-6 (21m)

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