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16 Jul 2024

Masotti & Gawad Oust Top Seeds At Grasshopper Cup

21 Oct 2023

The top two seeds were knocked out of the men's draw on quarter-finals day at the Grasshopper Cup, as Mohamed ElShorbagy and Mostafa Asal were both beaten in three games.

Playing Karim Abdel Gawad in the final match of the day, ElShorbagy went down 12-10, 9-11, 11-9 after 58 minutes of breathtaking action.

The pair duelled back-and-forth early on in front of a packed-out crowd, with Gawad saving a game ball at 10-9 down in the first, before taking it 12-10 when ElShorbagy hit the tin moments later.

Gawad then found himself 8-6 up in the second - the first time in the game there was a two-point gap - but the top seed hit back, winning four of the next five points before claiming the game after a video review.

The third game was equally nip-and-tuck in the opening stages, but Gawad soon found himself on the brink of victory at 10-6.

Back came ElShorbagy once more, though, saving the first three match points, before Gawad finally closed out a dramatic victory, deep into the Zurich night.

"I'm glad that I kept my focus, and I pushed mentally to the end," Gawad said after his win.

"Mohamed is the toughest mental player on tour, this is always his strongest point. If you lose focus or lose concentration, even for a minute, you can lose five or six points in a row and that's what happened [on match balls]."

ElShorbagy's defeat denied the Zurich crowd a brotherly matchup in the semi-finals, with Marwan having booked his semi-final spot earlier in the day.

The younger ElShorbagy spoiled the Swiss party by knocking out home favourite Nicolas Mueller, winning 11-3, 11-9 in just 20 minutes.

He is now the highest-remaining seed in the men's draw, with Baptiste Masotti having caused the biggest shock of the day earlier on, knocking out Asal 11-7, 6-11, 8-11 in a drama-filled matchup.

The pair split games one and two to send the match to a decider, which is where it truly came to life.

The Frenchman took an injury break at 5-4 down after a coming together on court, losing the next two points upon returning.

He then took the next two to level up at 7-7, before a brilliant Asal backhand put the Egyptian back on top.

That would be the final point he would win, though, with a conduct stroke for unnecessary physical contact added to a regular stroke, turning one point into two and putting Masotti back on top.

The Frenchman then edged a lengthy rally as the crowd held its breath on the following point, before closing out victory on another stroke, setting up a semi-final clash with Joel Makin.

"I feel that the best-of-three format suits me well against these top guys," Masotti said following his win.

"My game is an attacking game, but it can be dangerous as well. In the first game, I was passive, and he was attacking me on every shot, so I just needed to adjust my game.

"You need to play your best squash round after round. Tomorrow is going to be best-of-five against a player I know well, and I hope I can play even better than today."

Masotti will face a tough challenge in the final four if Makin continues the form he showed in the quarter-finals.

The Welsh No.1 nullified the shot-making threat of Youssef Ibrahim with a clinical performance, winning 11-3, 11-6 in 26 minutes.

In the women's draw, No.2 seed Hania El Hammamy edged a three-game battle with fellow Egyptian Rowan Elaraby, the only women's quarter-final to go to three games.

After falling 3-0 behind to start game one, El Hammamy won six points in a row to put herself in pole position, and closed out the game on a stroke after a forehand boast.

The forehand boast was a popular weapon for the world No.3 in game one, but it was less effective in game two as Elaraby showcased her talents, not least on game ball when she hit a brilliant backhand winner to level the score.

An Elaraby backhand into the tin eventually handed El Hammamy victory at the end of a back-and-forth third, booking her a semi-final matchup with Nele Gilis.

Gilis, who had beaten Sabrina Sobhy earlier in the session, took her third match ball to win 11-8, 12-10.

Speaking after the matches, El Hammamy had had mixed feelings about playing the Belgian in the longer format, with matches switching to best-of-five in the last two days.

"I like playing best-of-fives better than best-of-threes, but against Nele I would rather play a best-of-three for sure," she said.

"We're both very physical. We just played in the US Open quarters and it was three games and 60 minutes, so it's going to be long, it's going to be physical so I need to recover and be ready for tomorrow."

The winner of that match will play the winner of the first semi-final between Nour El Sherbini and Gina Kennedy.

Kennedy opened quarter-finals day with an efficient 2/0 win over Satomi Watanabe, while El Sherbini overcame the stubborn resistance of Sarah-Jane Perry, winning 11-5, 11-8.