10:53 pm
23 Jul 2017

Marwan Marks Ramy Breakthrough To Reach Bellevue Classic Semis

19 May 2017

Egypt's world No.5 Marwan Elshorbagy claimed a huge victory over three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour to move into the semi-finals of the inaugural Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash Classic, the PSA M100 tournament at Bellevue in the USA.

Elshorbagy's only previous win against his illustrious fellow countryman came during the 2016 El Gouna International - where Ashour was forced to retire mid-way through the second game.

The enigmatic Ashour was far from his best throughout the 39-minute Bellevue encounter, but a ruthless display from the 23-year-old denied a revival from his 29-year-old opponent as Elshorbagy recorded his breakthrough 11-8, 12-10, 5-11, 11-6 victory at the Boys and Girls Club Hidden Valley Field House.

"I'm really happy with the win today, Ramy is a great player," said Elshorbagy.

"The only time I beat him, he couldn't finish the match because he got injured. I'm really happy to win the match, but it was really hard for me today. I watched Ramy so many times when I was growing up so to get that first win against him means a lot to me.

"I've been working really hard, I've got to number five in the world and a lot of things happen off the court. To be able to play my 14th tournament of the season and to stay on my feet and be healthy means a lot to me."

An Egyptian finalist is assured after world No.8 Ali Farag defeated Australia's Ryan Cuskelly in straight games to set up a semi-final meeting with Elshorbagy - and the 25-year-old Harvard-graduate is now just one win away from a second successive PSA World Tour final.

On the other half of the draw, world No.2 Gregory Gaultier made it 25 matches unbeaten after he dismantled world No.10 Tarek Momen by a 3/0 margin.

Gaultier has been simply irresistible in 2017, losing just once and capturing five Tour titles in a row. The former world No.1 claimed his 11-8, 11-4, 11-7 victory in 47 minutes to reach a ninth straight semi-final.

"I always try to find an extra motivation because it's the end of the season and I agreed to play this tournament, so I know I'm going beyond my limits," said Gaultier.

"But every day I have to keep pushing until the end, the end of the season is really close, so I want to finish on a positive note and carry on playing as hard as I can. Me and Tarek have had a lot of games and it's always tough to play him because he's always unpredictable with his boasts, but sometimes he gives you cheap points which I'm happy with.

"I knew that if I gave him some openings that he would put them away, so I had to be really sharp to the front corners and defend with intelligence."

The Frenchman will be up against fellow former world No.1 James Willstrop - the Englishman to whom who he lost in December's AJ Bell British Grand Prix semi-finals. Willstrop recovered from three match balls down to defeat Spain's Borja Golan.

Harrogate-based Willstrop squandered a two-game lead to let Golan back into the match and Golan looked to be odds on to take the win after holding three match balls in a nail-biting decider. But the Yorkshireman dug deep to force a tie-break and held his nerve to close out a dramatic match in an 11-6, 11-7, 2-11, 6-11, 12-10 scoreline.

"I was so out-played in the fourth and the fifth so I was just happy to be in the fifth," said Willstrop.

"It was a weird match, totally weird. I'll take it though, I'm really happy and it's great to be playing in the semis now. It's fantastic."

Bellevue image courtesy of www.squashsite.co.uk