11:23 pm
19 Jun 2024

Breakthrough Victory Sees King Through To Second British Open Semi

14 Apr 2023

New Zealand's world No.4 Joelle King celebrated a maiden victory over lower-ranked Egyptian Rowan Elaraby to make the last four of the British Open at The Rep Theatre in Birmingham.

The pair were meeting for only the third time, but the Kiwi had never taken victory over the young Egyptian, ranked nine in the world.

Elaraby took the early lead in the quarter-final match in the PSA World Tour Platinum event, winning the first game 13-11.

The New Zealander, who sits a place below her best ranking of world No.3, battled back brilliantly in the second game, as she restricted the opportunities for her opponent. However, she would find herself behind once more, as a better length from Elaraby saw the Egyptian take the third game and move into the lead for a second time.

A quick start in the fourth saw King run away into a huge lead, and it was one she would not relinquish, as she pushed the contest into a decider. The fifth went almost the same way as the fourth did. The New Zealander was able to carry the momentum, and she eventually got over the line to take the victory to reach the last four of the British Open for the second time in a row.

"I mean, I was really nervous coming into today. I think the older you get, the more you think about how many times you will play big events like this," King said.

"I was really excited to come out here, probably too excited. Rowan has beaten me the last couple of times, she is an extremely talented player and I had to pull out all my tricks to get away with that in the fifth.

"Having the right people around you! My team know me and it was about getting the balance right. I was probably over stimulated a little bit, I know I am a Kiwi but I live down the road in Bristol. I could hear a few people cheering for me! It all plays a part, you know! Every time I step on court, I want to play as well as I can. Sometimes you can't do that, but you have to find a way to win."

King will now face world No.1 Nouran Gohar for a place in the final after the Egyptian defeated England's Sarah-Jane Perry. The Englishwoman was playing on home soil, but Gohar was in fine fettle to take a straight games victory.

In the men's event, four Egyptians did battle for the two available semi-final spots on Thursday. Mazen Hesham made it through to the last four of the British Open for the second year in succession, as he got the better of the in-form Karim Abdel Gawad in a high-octane affair.

Gawad, who won the Optasia Championships just a few weeks ago - and overcame three-time champion Mohamed ElShorbagy in the previous round - started strongly, and won the opening game 11-6. 'The Falcon' fought back to win the second game, before then scraping through a third game tie-break 14-12 to keep the momentum in his favour.

Hesham then started the fourth game strongly, and took an early lead that he did not relinquish. He ran out a comfortable winner to book his semi-final place where he will take on Ali Farag. The pair met in last year's semi-finals in Hull, and Hesham will be wanting to take revenge on the former world No.1

"First of all, a big shout out to Karim [Abdel Gawad] for this performance. He's my favourite player on Tour and I think the Tour is missing players like him and guys with his skill and talent and class,"

I feel like it was an exhibition match as we were both enjoying it, and enjoying the shots we were playing. The first thing he said to me was go for this tournament - he's such a nice guy and a great friend. We compete in good spirit and I'm really happy. Since he got back he lost one match against ElShorbagy in a tie-break. He's beaten Diego and I'm just really happy to push these guys and beat them.

"Ali is like an octopus: he has eight hands and nine legs! But I'll enjoy it and he's such a fair player. We give it a go every time we play and I'll try recover as much as I can and try be ready for him."

Two World Champions battled it out on the other men's quarter final. Ali Farag and Tarek Momen, both observing Ramadan, played a high-quality match, with former world No.1 Farag coming through in four games to move through to the last four.