Egypt’s Mazen Hesham and France’s Gregoire Marche have both made it into their first PSA World Tour Gold level semi-finals, after they defeated Egypt’s Marwan ElShorbagy and England’s Nathan Lake, respectively, to reach the last four at the Houston Open in Texas.
Hesham caused the only upset of quarter finals day, as he defeated compatriot, and No.4 seed, Marwan ElShorbagy, to make it into the last four of an event for the first time since reaching the semi-finals of the Ohana Malaysian Open in October 2017.
The odds were stacked heavily against Hesham coming into the contest, as he had never beaten ‘the Jackal’ in their previous five meetings, while he also had to come through a five-game battle in his second round match with Nicolas Mueller 24 hours before this contest.
However, ‘the Falcon’ made an electric start, hitting winner after winner as ElShorbagy struggled to find his feet in the first game, but the former World No.3 fought back to win the next two games to take the lead in the contest.
Hesham did what he does best though and unleashed some scintillating winners in the fourth game to unsettle ElShorbagy and send the match into a decider, where he kept his focus to seal a landmark win for the 27-year-old.
“These are the ones that stick with you forever,” said Hesham.
“I always feel that it’s my second home here, as if it’s just a 15 minute walk from my house. I think I should have done much better today, but my shins hurt me again. I’m not sure what’s happening, I kept saying to myself that it’s not going to come easy to me.
“I’ve fought so many things during my career and I’m still fighting every day. Something is always happening with my body as soon as I come close to winning. I’ve come a long way with my mental toughness and I’ve been working on myself.”
Hesham will face France’s Gregoire Marche in the semi-finals at Houston Squash Club on Saturday after ‘the Acrobat’ recovered from being two games down to defeat England’s Nathan Lake in a gripping five-game contest to end the evening’s action.
He found himself two games behind in quick fashion, as the Englishman was able to hit perfect line and length throughout the opening exchanges, while Marche struggled to find his rhythm.
However, the momentum swung back in the World No.12’s favour in the third game, and he was able to ride that wave throughout the rest of the contest. Taking a fourth game tie-break was pivotal, before going on to win the fifth to secure his spot in Saturday’s semi-finals.
“Actually, I can’t believe it for now. I think I thought a bit too much about this semi-final,” Marche said.
“I wasn’t moving well in the first two games, I was struggling to see the ball, and all credit to Nathan, he played almost perfectly, controlling every rally, pulling out some amazing shots, so obviously, I just want to see congratulations to him, he deserved to win today. I played with my head today, to play point-by-point and see how it goes, find a little bit of rhythm and find my length.
“It was not the best squash of my career, of course, but I have been working a lot mentally over the last few years and reaching the semis of a Gold event, for me. Of course, the draw was different and helped me a little bit but it is never easy to play these players, they all know how to put the ball away. Every day is a new day and I am just glad I managed to win this one 3-2.”
The other semi-final will see Egypt’s Ali Farag and Mostafa Asal go head-to-head for a place in Sunday’s final at Houston Squash Club, after they defeated Egypt’s Youssef Soliman and Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez, respectively.
The semi-finals take place tomorrow, Saturday, January 8, at 15:00 (GMT-6) with live action being shown on SQUASHTV.
Quarter Final Results: Houston Open
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Youssef Soliman (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-9 (37m)
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt  Miguel Rodriguez (COL) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-8 (40m)
 Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 11-4, 5-11, 4-11, 11-3, 11-7 (54m)
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-2: 8-11, 5-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-6 (70m)
Semi-Final Draw: Houston Open (To Be Played Saturday January 8th)
 Ali Farag (EGY) v  Mostafa Asal (EGY)
 Mazen Hesham (EGY) v  Gregoire Marche (FRA)