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15 Jul 2024

Gaultier & Ashour Take Out Top Seeds In Hurghada

3 Apr 2009

Top-seeded Egyptians Karim Darwish and Amr Shabana crashed out of the semi-finals of the Hurghada International Squash Championships after third seed Gregory Gaultier and fourth seed Ramy Ashour set up an unexpected final of the men's $61,000 PSA World Tour event being staged on an all-glass court at the Sinbad Beach Resort in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Hurghada.

The final of the women's $26,000 WISPA World Tour event will feature top seed Rachael Grinham and third seed Omneya Abdel Kawy - who will be meeting for the sixth successive year in this eighth staging of the women's championship!

Gregory Gaultier, the world No4 from France, levelled his career head-to-head record with Darwish to six-all - and repeated his victory in last month's Super Series Finals in London - when he recovered from a game down to beat the world number one 10-12, 11-4, 12-10, 11-7 in 56 minutes.

"I really wanted to win that one, especially here," an ecstatic Gaultier told www.squashsite.co.uk afterwards. "I knew it wasn't going to be easy, there would be a lot of things against me. I had to stay focused and keep my cool.

"I tried to keep the pace high all the time to stop him being able to play his shots, and I think I did that well, it was a tough, close game. I'm really happy with my performance and looking forward to the final now," added the 26-year-old from Aix-en-Provence, now in his 34th Tour final.

Gaultier faces Ramy Ashour in Saturday's final - in which the 21-year-old Egyptian will also be looking to draw the pair's head-to-head record level. The battle against his national rival Amr Shabana, the former world number one, was also a repeat of their recent Super Series Finals' meeting - but this time Ashour avenged his defeat at Queen's Club by winning 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7 in 40 minutes.

"I'm really glad with how I played today," said the new world number three from Cairo. "I got a few lucky shots in the middle, but it's never going to be easy to beat Shabana. You always have to have a lot of things go your way to do that. You have to be very focused and clear, and I was pleased with that aspect today," explained Ashour on the eve of his 18th PSA final.

When third seed Omneya Abdel Kawy took the opening two games against England's Jenny Duncalf, it looked as if the 23-year-old Egyptian was on the way to a fifth straight games upset over her higher-ranked opponent.

The pair were meeting in Egypt for the first time since Abdel Kawy crushed Duncalf 3/0 on the way to Egypt's historic defeat of England in the World Team Championship final in Cairo in December.

But, in Hurghada, second seed Duncalf fought back to take the third, then saved four match-balls in the fourth to draw level. But, spurred on no doubt by the partisan local crowd, Abdel Kawy stuck to her task and went on to record a 12-10, 11-6, 6-11, 13-15, 11-6 victory after 64 minutes.

"My movement wasn't the best today, but she played really well," said the former world junior champion, now in her sixth final in a row. "She never starts well against me, but after the worlds I could tell she was focusing to get revenge so I knew it was going to be much tougher for me.

"I'm looking forward to the final - it's nice to have a rest day. It's like a grand slam in tennis! I'm hoping to fix a few things and play better then."

Australian favourite Rachael Grinham comfortably beat unseeded French opponent Camille Serme 11-7, 11-8, 11-3 to reach the final for the sixth time.

"I'd never played her before, only seen her play twice and she looked quite good - good racket skills and good on the volley - so I wanted to play as simple and safe as I could at the start, not do anything
stupid," said the Cairo-based top seed who will be seeking her fourth title in Hurghada.

"She put up a tough fight in the first two, but I was a bit more confident going into the third, and it was a long way back for her from two down," added Grinham, now in her 52nd Tour final.

Men's semi-finals:
[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [1] Karim Darwish (EGY) 10-12, 11-4, 12-10, 11-7 (56m)
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [2] Amr Shabana (EGY) 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7 (40m)

Women's semi-finals:
[1] Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt Camille Serme (FRA) 11-7, 11-8, 11-3 (30m)
[3] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt [2] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 12-10, 11-6, 6-11, 13-15, 11-6 (64m)