Peruvian Elias Stuns World No.1 To Reach Qatar Classic Semis
31 Oct 2018
21-year-old Diego Elias produced the performance of his career to defeat world No.1 and World Champion Mohamed Elshorbagy in a thrilling 76-minute, five-game, encounter to book his place in the semi-finals of the 2018 Qatar Classic and become the first Peruvian in history to reach the last four of a major PSA World Tour event.
Defending champion Elshorbagy, a three-time winner of this PSA World Tour Platinum title, has maintained a stranglehold on the world No.1 ranking for the past three years. But Elias produced an inspired performance to storm out of the gates and take the opening game courtesy of some sublime, patient squash.
Lima-based Elias, who alongside Elshorbagy is one of only four players to win the World Junior Championship on two occasions, then managed to fight back after the Egyptian twice nullified his game lead on the scoreboard to come through an 11-8, 11-13, 13-11, 10-12, 11-7 winner and set up a last four meeting with Germany's Simon Rösner - in what will be his first ever semi-final at a Platinum level event.
"I'm really happy to be into the semis of a major event for the first time in my career - and to do it by beating the world No.1 is special," said Elias.
"I have a big opportunity now and I don't want to waste it so I will do everything I can to recover for tomorrow and come back and do my best against Rösner. It will be tough against him - we've only played once before and he smashed me - but I'm feeling good and hopefully I can play well.
"I tried to take it point by point today and not get too far ahead because I knew if I got nervous then I'd start going for stupid shots. I just focused on what I had to do - at every opportunity I wanted to go to the front and it was working. I'm really happy I managed to stay calm and see it through in five."
One year after reaching the semi-finals in Doha for the first time in his career, world No.5 Rösner booked his return to the last four with a well-earned 3/1 victory over New Zealand's Paul Coll while the second semi-final will see Egyptian duo Ali Farag, the world No.2, and Tarek Momen, the world No.4 and 2017 runner-up, clash just one week after they contested the final of the Channel VAS Championship in England.
Farag dispatched 2016 tournament winner Karim Abdel Gawad in straight games to book his last four spot while Momen was forced to produce some of his best squash to halt the giant-killing run of Welsh world No.33 Joel Makin.
Momen found himself one-game down as Makin replicated the kind of squash that powered him to victories over world No.6 Miguel Angel Rodriguez and former world No.6 Mathieu Castagnet in the previous round - but the Cairo-based player managed to turn the match around and come through after 51-thrilling minutes.
"Joel is a machine - he's spent so much time on court this week and I didn't think he'd be able to back up so much," said Momen.
"He really exceeded my expectations and I had to pull out my best to win today. I am just really glad to be through and that it didn't go to five because I know I need to recover well and be ready for the match against Ali tomorrow.
"Ali and I have played a few times this year so I know what to expect. He's a good friend as well so we'll just give it our best and the best man will win."