10:25 am
18 May 2024

Ashour Heads Historic Egyptian Trio In British Open Semis

26 Mar 2016

There will be three Egyptian men in the semi-finals of the prestigious Allam British Open for the first time ever after 2013 champion Ramy Ashour led defending champion Mohamed Elshorbagy and unseeded Karim Abdel Gawad into the last four of the PSA World Series event in Hull.

Ashour downed compatriot Ali Farag in a scintillating 56-minute encounter at the Airco Arena that saw both players showcase some exquisite squash with Ashour in particular hitting a spectacular corkscrew shot that died in the forehand back corner. The 28-year-old closed out the victory by an 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 scoreline to move into the penultimate round where he will face World Champion Gregory Gaultier.

"I'm really happy with my performance especially coming back from injury, it means a lot to me and everyone who believed in me," said Ashour.

"It's just great to be in the semi-finals but I'm not expecting anything and I won't get ahead of myself. I wasn't playing in patches today which is a great sign. I just want to push myself as best I can until my body or my mind breaks down.

"He's [Farag] a very respectful character and I think he is now the 'over-dog' rather than the 'under-dog'. His movement is unbelievable and he's definitely a top 10 quality player."

Elshorbagy safely secured his passage into the next round with a strong victory over Colombia's Miguel Angel Rodriguez.

Rodriguez put in a valiant display but, despite some excellent retrieval skills and a trademark dive wowing an enraptured crowd, Elshorbagy's class shone through as the man from Alexandria powered to an 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 victory.

"Trying to defend this title is going to mean so much to me and my team," said Elshorbagy.

"Winning it the first time is always the toughest but, now I have won, I'm relaxed. You deal with each match differently. Today was very tough because it was very hot today and they are the perfect conditions for him and the worst conditions for me.

"I had to deal with it and I was glad I was able to slow down the pace and keep it as tight as I can. He played really well but this is the British Open and I am playing my best squash here."

Elshorbagy will face compatriot Karim Abdel Gawad in the next round after the 24-year-old despatched the Mohamed's younger brother Marwan Elshorbagy in four games - while former champion Gregory Gaultier beat Germany's Simon Rösner to set up a semi-final showdown with Ashour.

Defending women's champion Camille Serme took a step closer to retaining her crown after a stunning win against world No.1 Laura Massaro in a repeat of last year's final.

Serme played at a high tempo throughout, with a plethora of attacking volleys paying dividends as her English opponent struggled to find any fluency in her game. The 26-year-old from Creteil took the match 11-8, 11-5, 11-7 to complete a stunning victory that left both the men's and women's British Open semi-finals lacking English interest for the first time for over 35 years.

"I felt good on court today, a bit nervous at the beginning, but I got more and more confident with my game," said Serme.

"Last year I was really focused on what to do and I'm really happy. I wanted to play a lot of volleys and try to attack as soon as I could without rushing it. I was trying to find the balance between rushing and not rushing."

Nouran Gohar caused the day's big upset in the women's draw with a fine victory over close friend and fellow Egyptian Raneem El Welily, while five-time winner Nicol David required four games to see off Omneya Abdel Kawy. Nour El Sherbini was the other victor with a straight games dismantling of US No.1 Amanda Sobhy.