After three PSA Men’s World Squash Championships quarter-finals were decided in three games each, the ElShorbagy brothers put up a five-game show, which ended in a frantic fashion, as younger sibling Marwan won only the fourth time against former world champion and world number two Mohamed.
At the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex yesterday, Marwan, who had last beaten his elder brother in a Platinum event in Egypt last year, opened well by taking the first game 11-6. But that seemed to have woken up the ‘Beast of Alexandria’ and he decimated the world number 10 11-2 to restore parity.
Marwan managed to hold his own in the third yet again, going 2-1 up, but an experienced Mohamed, the 2017 world champion, bounced back this time too and snatched the fourth 11-3 in five minutes.
A very physical fifth game saw the pace and intensity go up as the referee was handed a few tricky decisions to be made. But an 8-3 lead helped Marwan keep up the pressure, and even though Mohamed snatched a few points thereafter, the margin was too much to beat at the end of it all.
“Any win against my brother is always special. He is one of the best players to have ever played the game, so to win against him in the biggest tournament of the season, means a lot to me,” the 26-year-old said after the win.
“It was a tough match. I felt that every time I was playing him this season, I was getting closer and closer. He is the most experienced player in the draw. What he did in the second and the fourth game, I had nothing to do. He was just too clever,” Marwan, who had lost to his elder brother in the 2017 World Championships final, admitted.
“It’s all mental, whenever you are playing against my brother. He changes his game like ten times during the match. It is just about how you adapt and respond to it. He has played against so many (different) generations (of players).
“I am happy to win, but it is not over yet.”
Awaiting Marwan in today’s semifinal will be Paul Coll, who followed up his epic two-hour battle against world number 15 Omar Mosaad on Tuesday, with a relatively straightforward 47-minute encounter against another Egyptian, Zahed Salem, yesterday.
“Paul has been doing so amazing this season, and I have so much respect for what he has achieved. He is going to do everything to win the World Championships,” Marwan said.
After his win over Mosaad, the New Zealander was asked if his body would hold up for the quarterfinals after the mammoth slugfest that was his third round match, and world number five had been positive about it.
Yesterday, he proved it by going past Salem 3-0 (11-8, 11-9, 11-6).
In the process, Coll became the first New Zealander since Ross Norman in 1988 to reach the semi-finals of the World Championships. To put that in context, that was roughly four years before Coll was even born.
“I’m very happy to be in the semifinals of a World Championships, it was something that was a minimum goal going into the tournament,” said Coll, the top-ranked non-Egyptian, after the win.
“I’ve got to put that behind me now, even though I’m very happy to be in the semi-finals, I don’t want to stop there.
“I just wanted to dominate today. Yesterday (against Mosaad) I felt like I got a bit dominated and my natural game was taken away from me, so I wanted to step up today and really take the game to Zahed.”
German fifth seed Simon Rosner was the first to reach the semifinals after he beat former world number one James Willstrop of England in 46 minutes.
Rosner, who had made it to the last four at the previous edition last year in the US too, survived some gritty strokeplay by Willstrop in a 25-minute first game, eventually going 1-0 up after making good use of the fifth game ball at 14-12. The second and third games were pretty much one-way traffic as Willstrop lost to the world number six for the fourth time in the last five matches, despite holding a 13-4 head-to-head advantage overall.
“I knew if I could win that first game, keep the intensity up and play fast squash then I would be able to push through and that’s exactly what happened,” Rosner said after the win.
“You want to win the title when you get this far and it has to be my aim now. You don’t want to lose just before the finish of the tournament, so I’m definitely up for the next match no matter who I’m playing tomorrow and I’m looking forward to that one.”
Rosner will be up against Egyptian world number three Tarek Momen, who has had a number on the German this year having won all three of their games, including the US Open quarterfinal last month. The two have also met in the 2017 Qatar Classic semi-final, when Momen won in straight games for a spot in the final against compatriot Mohamed ElShorbagy.
Yesterday, Momen only took 37 minutes to dispatch world number seven Diego Elias in straight games, the Egyptian’s seventh victory over the Peruvian in eight matches.
“I know that Diego has been into a few semifinals before but maybe the World Championship is a little bit different. He has the experience of making it to the latter rounds, but maybe the good start that I had made the difference,” Momen said after the 3-0 (11-6, 13-11, 11-6) win.
“He came back really strong in the second game and it was very close. If he had snatched that second game, then I don’t think he would have been fazed by the occasion. I managed to get a good start which helped a lot towards the end.” Talking about his semifinal against Rosner, he said, “I am really looking forward to playing Simon again, and I am hoping for another win to make it to another final at the World Championships. It would be unbelievable for me to make two finals in a row at the Worlds, so I am really looking forward to it.”
4-Paul Coll (NZL) bt 14-Zahed Salem (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-6 (47m)
5-Simon Rösner (GER) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 14-12, 11-6, 11-3 (46m)
2-Tarek Momen (EGY) bt 6-Diego Elias (PER) 3-0: 11-6, 13-11, 11-6 (36m)
9-Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt 1-Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 11-6, 2-11, 11-6, 3-11, 11-8 (59m)
Today’s schedule (Semifinals)
5pm: 2-Tarek Momen (EGY) vs 5-Simon Rosner (GER)
F/O: 4-Paul Coll (NZL) vs 9-Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
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