Day FIVE – Quarter-Finals

Clean Sweep for the seeds

The top four seeds in both men’s and women’s draws moved into the semi-finals at Hong Kong Park Sports Centre, with six of the eight matches finishing as three-nil wins.

Top seed Nouran Gohar faced the sternest test as she overcame a great effort from Satomi Watanabe, while her semi-final opponent Hania El Hammamy came from a game down to beat compatriot Nour El Tayeb. Joelle King and Nour El Sherbini both eased to 3-0 wins.

In the men’s matches Diego Elias, Mohamed ElShorbagy and Mostafa Asal all cruised to victory, but in the last match of the day top seed Paul Coll had to work hard to see off Marwan ElShorbagy in four games in the longest match of the day.

Read on for match reports, quotes and photos …

Everbrite Securities International Hong Kong Squash Open : QUARTER-FINALS

Women’s Quarters : 

[1] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-0 Satomi Watanabe (Jpn)    14-12, 12-10, 11-6 (37m)
[3] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 3-1 [5] Nour El Tayeb (Egy)  6-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-8 (45m)

[4] Joelle King (Nzl) 3-0 [7] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng)  11-4, 11-7, 11-8 (31m)
[2] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Nele Gilis Bel)  11-4, 11-8, 13-11 (42m)

Men’s Quarters :

[2] Diego Elias (Per) 3-0 [8] Youssef Soliman (Egy)   11-9, 12-10, 11-5 (52m)
[3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng) 3-0 [6] Mazen Hesham (Egy)  11-8, 11-4, 11-5 (29m)

[4] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-0 [7] Victor Crouin (Fra)    11-3, 11-3, 11-3 (33m)
[1] Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-1 [5] Marwan ElShorbagy (Egy)  11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9 (64m)


Reports and Reaction

Coll rounds off clean sweep for the seeds

[1] Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-1 [5] Marwan ElShorbagy (Egy)  11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9 (64m)

Paul Coll has reached his first Hong Kong semi-final after he saw off Marwan ElShorbagy in four games.

The top seed, who was defeated by Marwan’s brother Mohamed in the quarter-finals in the 2018 edition, made an excellent start as he took a 4-0 lead in the opening game. ElShorbagy pegged it back to 5-5, only for Coll to surge back and go ahead 11-9.

Coll raced into another early lead at the start of the second, but ElShorbagy fought back to level the match 11-8. Coll restored his advantage as he claimed game three 11-6, and with 4-0 start in the fourth he had one foot in the semi-finals. Errors from Coll opened the door for ElShorbagy to come back, levelling at 9-all but Coll went on to clinch the game four 11-9 to reach the semis.

“I felt like I was in control for a lot of it, but Marwan is so good at winning quick points,” said Coll. “I was a little bit frustrated in the last, I think I was 9-6 up and then he won three quick points to go to 9-9. Overall, I’m pretty happy, the courts very nice and I felt good on there.

“Asal seems to be playing well. I didn’t see any of his match, but he won in 30 minutes, so it looks like he’s playing well and he’s always a tricky customer. He’s full of energy and you know exactly what he’s going to get, it’s going to be a tough battle.”

[4] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-0 [7] Victor Crouin (Fra)    11-3, 11-3, 11-3 (33m)

Clinical Asal despatches Crouin

Mostafa Asal is through to the semi-finals for the first time after a clinical display against Victor Crouin. Asal raced into a 6-0 lead in the first game and showed no sign of letting up as she took the first 11-3.

The Egyptian’s momentum continued in the second game went 6-2 up before taking the game 11-3 again. The match was sewn up in just 33 minutes, Asal taking another 11-3 win in the third.

“It was my first hit on the glass court,” said Asal.  “I’m a lazy person and I didn’t go for my practice in the morning, so it was a bit tricky. I tried to adapt to the court in the first five minutes when I was warming up. It was a lively court and very different to the other one.

“I had to be sure from the start and I’m happy to win in three.”

Sherbini through in three

[2] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Nele Gilis Bel)  11-4, 11-8, 13-11 (42m)

Nour El Sherbini maintained her 100 per cent record against top ten newcomer Nele Gilis to five wins to advance to the last four.

El Sherbini was ruthless in the first game, winning 11-4, before extending her lead 11-8. A strong fightback from Gilis in the third was almost rewarded with her halving the deficit, but El Sherbini saved one game ball and came out on top 13-11 .

King cruises into last four

[4] Joelle King (Nzl) 3-0 [7] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng)  11-4, 11-7, 11-8 (31m)

Fourth seed Joelle King cruised into the semi-finals as she dispatched seventh seed Sarah-Jane Perry in straight games.

King, whose sole Platinum event win to date came in Hong Kong four years ago, blitzed Perry 11-4 in the opening game with an impressive performance. Despite going behind in the second game, Perry battled back to draw level at 6-6 but King’s speed and accuracy saw her nudge back ahead before taking the game 11-7.

Perry stood toe-to-toe with King in the third, but the New Zealand. No.1 proved to be too strong in the end to pull away and cement her place in the semi-finals.

“I thought I started really well to be honest, the first two were pretty solid until midway through and then I came away a little bit from what I was doing,” said King.

“She stepped up and SJ is so dangerous when she has time on the ball. She never gives up until the very last point, so I’m very happy to be through in three and be fresh for my semi-final tomorrow.

“The goal for this year has been to see how good I can get at playing this game that I’ve been trying to figure out for a very long time. I think I’m playing some of my best squash, it’s never easy to back it up tournament after tournament and it’s been something I’ve been really bad at in the past. With experience now in the bank and a very clear picture of what I’m trying to achieve out there, I’m able to play quite freely.

“I played my last World Juniors here and I won my first Platinum here, so I have lots of good memories. I feel comfortable and I have a really good relationship with Emily, who runs the tournament and all of the helpers. I’ve known them all for a really long time, so I enjoy coming back.”

ElShorbagy dominant over Hesham

[3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng) 3-0 [6] Mazen Hesham (Egy)  11-8, 11-4, 11-5 (29m)

Winners of the last two PSA tournaments – Mohamed ElShorbagy in Singapore and Mazen Hesham in Malaysia – this match started with ElShorbagy on a hot streak which saw him take a 5-0 advantage in the opening game.

Hesham steadied but couldn’t close the gap, and ElShorgbagy took the opening two games, then go quickly 8–1 up in the third at which point Hesham all but gave up the ghost.

“I think it was very important to win the first game and the second game was very tight until midway through, he lost focus and then I pulled away from 5-4 to 11-4. He kept hitting tin after tin and it was brutal at the beginning of the second. I think that was from the investment from the first game and a half and I’m glad to win in three.”

“Diego and I are very close off the court. He’s probably the closest to me off the court out of all the players. We did play twice already this season, he beat me once 3-0 and a few weeks later I beat him 3-0. It’s gone one way each time and I hope it goes my way this time. I’m sure he’d love the same thing, but at the end of the day it’s going to be a great match, a great battle and two top players going against each other. We’ll both have a very big battle tomorrow.”

Elias comes through against Soliman

[2] Diego Elias (Per) 3-0 [8] Youssef Soliman (Egy)   11-9, 12-10, 11-5 (52m)

Diego Elias booked his place in the semi-finals for the first time after he overcame Egypt’s Youssef Soliman in a testing battle.

The pair had only ever contested two fixtures on the PSA World Tour – as well asd contesting the 2015 World Junior Final – with Elias winning both in straight games. Today’s match was also 3-0, but it was a hugely competitive match, with Elias having to overturn deficits in both of the opening two games.

In the third though, Elias was dominant, with Soliman giving up the ghost with a few points to go.

“I’m just glad that I could close it in three,” said Elias. “He’s a tough opponent, he plays very fast and plays a high pace, so I’m happy I could play my game and win in three games.

“The first two games were very close. I don’t think I played my best squash but I’m happy that I could win in three.

“I thought I played very well in the first two rounds, I felt really good, so I knew that I wasn’t going to play my best and that was today, so I’m happy I could find a way to win.”

Hammamy wins all-Egyptian match against Tayeb

[3] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 3-1 [5] Nour El Tayeb (Egy)  6-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-8 (45m)

Third seed Hania El Hammamy  ended a three-match losing streak against fellow Egyptian Nour El Tayeb to set up a mouthwatering semi-final battle with bitter rival Nouran Gohar.

El Hammamy had only beaten Tayeb in two of their previous 10 matches, and not since October 2020, and in the early stages, it looked like El Tayeb was on course to extend her winning run as she took the opening game.

El Hammamy ramped up the pace in the second, and it paid dividends as she led throughout the next three games to close out the match.

“Playing against Nour is very tough, both mentally and physically,” said El Hammamy. “The last two meetings went in her favour and I wanted to focus on the things that I did wrong in the last two matches. I learned from my mistakes and came out on top this time.

“In the first game, I was playing the correct game plan but I was making a lot of errors and that’s what I was trying to minimise in the last few games. It gives me a lot of confidence, I stuck to the game plan and that helped me to minimise my errors.”

Gohar battles to win over Watanabe

[1] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-0 Satomi Watanabe (Jpn)    14-12, 12-10, 11-6 (37m)

Top seed Nouran Gohar had to draw on all of her experience to get the better of World No.40 Satomi Watanabe as she moved into the semi-finals owith a hard fought three game win.

Gohar, the 2016 Hong Kong Open champion, had a far from comfortable afternoon as a superb performance from Japan’s Watanabe saw her take the world #1 to two tie-breaks in the opening two games.

In both of those games, Watanabe found her best squash towards the end of the game, fighting back from 9-6 down in the opening game to hold a game ball, and recovering from 6-9 down in the second to force extra points once more.

Having edged the first two, Gohar was in the zone in the third game and quickly went 5-0 up, maintaining the lead to complete the win.

“It was a great match, it’s the first time that I’ve played Satomi,” said Gohar afterwards. “I know how it feels to cause an upset and then come back in the next match. She played really well and she had nothing to lose. I had to adapt to the conditions, especially coming up against a new player as well, so it was a bit tricky for me but I’m glad with the way I dealt with it today.

“It’s very different playing on two different courts in a tournament. Back in 2016, when I won, it I played on three different courts! It’s pretty special for this tournament to have two different glass courts, but I can’t complain about it and I’m happy to be back in the semis tomorrow.

“I’ll be watching it Nour v Hania. My match was only around 30 minutes, so I have a bit of a break and I can watch it closely.”