Day Six : Semi-Finals

Top seeds beaten in five game semi-final drama

A dramatic – and long – semi-finals day at Hong Kong Park Sports Centre saw both top seeds beaten in five dramatic games.

First up Hania El Hammamy prevailed in an all-Egyptian battle as she took out top seed Nouran Gohar, coming from one-two down to dominate the decider. In the other women’s semi Nour El Sherbini went 0-8 down to Joelle King in the first game but kept her winning record against the Kiwi as she won in four.

Diego Elias avenged his defeat by Mohamed ElShorbagy in the Singapore final in another five game thriller, and finally Mostafa Asal beat top seed Paul Coll in yet another five game battle.

Read on for match reports, quotes and photos …

Everbrite Securities International Hong Kong Squash Open : SEMI-FINALS

[3] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 3-2 [1] Nouran Gohar (Egy)  11-9, 8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-2 (84m)

[2] Diego Elias (Per) 3-2 [3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng)  7-11, 11-3, 6-11, 11-5, 11-7 (67m)

[2] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-1 [4] Joelle King (Nzl)  8-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-7 (48m)

[4] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-2 [1] Paul Coll (Nzl)    7-11, 11-5, 11-7, 5-11, 11-4 (72m)


Reports and Reaction

Asal takes out top seed Coll in five

[4] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-2 [1] Paul Coll (Nzl)    7-11, 11-5, 11-7, 5-11, 11-4 (72m)

Mostafa Asal will meet Diego Elias in the Hong Kong Open final after edging past Paul Coll 3-2.

Coll, who was the top seed, fended off a resurgence from Asal in the first game to take a the lead 11-7, but Asal struck back to level 11-5.

The Egyptian carried that momentum into the third, taking an 8-4 lead, and despite Coll saving two game balls, Asal converted at the third attempt to go up 2-1. Coll requested a new ball at the end of the third and it came to his aid as the New Zealander dominated the fourth, going 5-0 before he comfortably closed the game out 11-5.

Asal took the early lead in the decider and led 6-4, then he scored five unanswered points – his last shot an astonishing pickup which Coll couldn’t control leading to a stroke decision to Asal, appealed and confirmed to book his place in the final.

“It’s an amazing match between me and Paul,” said Asal. “He’s a superb player and there is always free-flowing squash. He’s the kind of player who never acts or does stuff on court, so I want to thank him for a great match. It was a tough match for me, it was a 3-2 and one of the best days of squash today.

“Diego and Mohamed played a really tough match today, so did I with Paul. Who will recover well and who will get the trophy tomorrow is a big thing for both of us.”

Sherbini wins through to title decider

[2] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-1 [4] Joelle King (Nzl)  8-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-7 (48m)

2017 Hong Kong Open champion Nour El Sherbini bounced back from a game down to book her place in this year’s final after overcoming Joelle King in four games.

King went into an 8-0 lead in the first, and although Sherbini staged a fightback, King took the opener 11-8.  Sherbini clicked into gear as she roared back in the second game, claiming an emphatic 11-3 in nine minutes, and was well into her groove in the third, going 10-8 up and a stroke decision going in her favour giving her a 2-1 lead.

King, the reigning champion after lifting the title in 2018 when it was last held, stayed in touch through the fourth,  but Sherbini pulled away to set up a meeting with compatriot Hania El Hammamy in the final.

“Joelle has been on fire this week, especially winning New Zealand and Singapore,” said El Sherbini. “She’s playing really well and I’m happy with the way I played and to come back after being 1-0 down.

“It was hard to get started, I don’t know why but maybe because there were a lot of long matches before, so I’ve been warming up and cooling down. But I’m definitely happy to come back and it would have been difficult if she had won the second or third.

“It would be amazing to win the Hong Kong Open final, hopefully it goes well and I’ll be ready for it.

“It was very tough Hania and Nouran, they had an amazing match and it was 84 minutes or something unbelievable. It’s going to be a tough match, Hania is the No.3 player and has been in good form since last season. I’m looking forward to it and we’ve played a couple of times this season, so hopefully it’s going to be a good match.”

[2] Diego Elias (Per) 3-2 [3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng)  7-11, 11-3, 6-11, 11-5, 11-7 (67m)

Elias through to first HK final

Diego Elias sealed his place in the Hong Kong Open final for the first time as he battled back from 2-1 down against Mohamed ElShorbagy.

Elias, who reached the last 16 stage when the tournament was last staged four years ago, was one game down when ElShorbagy came out on top to take an 11-7 win. The Peruvian Puma stepped up to the plate in game two as he raced to a 10-3 advantage, with a combination of ElShorbagy errors and Elias’ accuracy helping him draw level as he took the game comfortably 11-3.

The pendulum swung back in ElShorbagy’s favour in the third, aiming to reach his fifth final of the season, as he regained his match advantage with an 11-6 victory. 4-0 down in the fourth, Elias registered seven unanswered points to put him back in control, and he would clinch the game 11-5 to force a decider.

A three-point gap for Elias at 8-5 up soon closed up as ElShorbagy got to within a point at 8-7, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Elias who bagged four points without response to reach the final in Hong Kong for the first time.

“I think I played very well today after the first game,” said Elias.

“He started very fast, similar to how he played in Singapore. I had a game plan and it took me a while to start using it. I think by the end I did what I wanted to do and I’m really happy with the win.

“He’s such a great player and he’s so experienced. I’m very happy with how I recovered in the fourth game after being 4-0 down. I played very mature squash.

“We have become very good friends lately. When I’m in the match you don’t think about that though. We both want to win so badly, and I’m just happy I could win this time.”

Hania battles back to reach first HK final

[3] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 3-2 [1] Nouran Gohar (Egy)  11-9, 8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-2 (84m)

Hania El Hammamy came from two one down to defeat Nouran Gohar and reach the final of the Hong Kong Open.

The Egyptian duo, who have built up an intense on-court rivalry over recent years, played out an epic 84-minute battle in the opening match of the semi-finals. El Hammamy, who’s became the first player to deny Gohar a final appearance in 2022, took the first game 11-9 with her terrific accuracy helping her get the better of the World #1

The second game was played at an electrifying pace from the off as El Hammamy went 5-2 up, only for Gohar to register five unanswered points to edge 7-5 in front. An error from El Hammamy presented Gohar with two game balls to tie the match, with another mistake from El Hammamy handing the second game to Gohar 11-8.

The pace didn’t let up from either Egyptian as El Hammamy once again opened up a 3-0 buffer in the third before Gohar nudged back in front 6-3, which she eventually won 11-7. El Hammamy, who defeated Gohar at the CIB Egyptian Open final back in September, surged back, taking a 6-2 lead which soon evaporated as Gohar brought the scores to 8-8. However a Gohar mistake when El Hammamy had two game balls forced the tie into a decider.

Despite the intensity running throughout the previous four matches, the fifth didn’t follow suit as El Hammamy blitzed Gohar 11-2 to book her place in the final.

“I’m over the moon to reach the final,” said El Hammamy.

“Last time I was here was four years ago and I lost in the first or second round. I’m very happy to be back after the long break from Hong Kong to reach the finals. It was a very tough match and I’m happy to come out on top.

“It was very tough coming from behind against Nouran. It was very physical, very mental, and I’m very proud of the way I managed to deal with this.

“Nouran’s reached every final for a season and a half, so I’m proud of stopping that run, but I’m just focusing on myself and my game and what I want to achieve. Hopefully I can keep going and get the win tomorrow.”