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21 Jun 2024

Top Seeds Elias & Gohar Qualify For World Tour Finals Semis

23 Jun 2023

No.1 seeds Diego Elias and Nouran Gohar booked their places in the last four of the CIB PSA World Tour Finals after defeating Frenchman Victor Crouin and USA's Olivia Fiechter, respectively, on day three of the event at the EDNC SODIC in Cairo.

World No.2 Elias moved to the top of Group A in the men's event following an 11-9, 11-7 win over world No.7 Crouin. It was only their second match on the PSA Tour following a 76-minute epic during May's British Open, which also went the way of Elias.

That display from the Peruvian means he sits on nine points, two ahead of No.4 seed Mostafa Asal despite his defeat to the Egyptian 24 hours earlier. Elias will finish top of Group A if Asal loses out to No.6 seed Mazen Hesham, a result which would see Hesham join Elias in the last four.

"He's [Crouin] very tough and is improving in every tournament and playing great squash." said Elias, who has qualified for the semi-finals for the first time.

"I'm just happy to win in two games here because we played a very tough one at the British Open.

"Today was very different. Yesterday was very tough - it's always very tough against Mostafa. He's such a good squash player but has another side that's very tough to play against when there's a lot of contact."

World No.1 Ali Farag has also secured his place in the semi-finals after he came back from a game down to beat two-time winner Mohamed ElShorbagy.

It was their 28th meeting on the PSA Tour, with ElShorbagy holding a narrow 14-13 lead in their head-to-head record coming into the match, but Farag was able to level that up courtesy of a 9-11, 11-5, 11-3 victory.

"I hate playing against Mohamed," said Farag, who has now won 22 matches in a row as well as four tournaments on the bounce.

"From the first game we were playing long rallies like we were at the back end of a crucial game. I could see him breathing hard and he kept on pushing. I was playing the rallies well but he was the one coming out the winner. Thankfully, I had my brother in my corner and we agreed to cut down the angles, especially on the forehand side because he is lethal on the volley."

ElShorbagy was struggling with an adductor injury that has plagued him since March and he will hope to recover in time for his clash with No.5 seed Paul Coll. The Englishman and the Kiwi will face off for the chance to join Farag in the semi-finals, with Coll going second in Group B following an 11-6, 11-3 win over No.8 seed Tarek Momen.

In the women's event, Gohar sealed her place in the last four for a third season in a row. The Egyptian beat world No.9 Fiechter by an 11-3, 11-5 scoreline and now sits at the summit of Group A on nine points.

Top spot in the group will be hers if arch-rival Hania El Hammamy - currently second in the group - slips up against Belgium's Nele Gilis tomorrow.

"I'm obviously very happy to qualify for the semis and it's good that I get a rest day tomorrow as well," said world No.1 Gohar.

"It's a good feeling when you win at the end. I'm very happy, Olivia is a very tricky player and we play together in the US sometimes. It's tricky to play with someone you train with, but I'm happy with the way I played today."

Gohar will be joined in the semi-finals by World Champion Nour El Sherbini, who defeated New Zealand's Joelle King in a comfortable 11-3, 11-4 victory. King was playing with an ankle injury and El Sherbini took full advantage as she dominated the match.

El Sherbini's next opponent will be England's Georgina Kennedy, who squeezed past Egypt's Nour El Tayeb - who sported heavy strapping around her right thigh - to go second in the group. El Sherbini only needs to win a solitary game against the world No.8 to secure top spot.

"It's very obvious that Joelle is struggling with her movement and she is not playing near her best," said El Sherbini afterwards.

"I was trying not to think about it because it's hard to play any player who has an injury, you don't know if they're going to stop or keep going. I didn't want to give her any cheap points. I wanted to keep my momentum going and I'm happy to win this match 2/0 without dropping a game."