7:51 pm
25 May 2024

Hesham Takes Down Ibrahim To Make Black Ball Semis

15 Apr 2024

World No.6 Mazen Hesham advanced to his first Black Ball Open semi-final after defeating Youssef Ibrahim in a thrilling five-game encounter at the PSA World Tour Gold event in Cairo.

The Egyptian duo, both of whom possess attacking weapons aplenty, played at a fast and furious pace throughout their 64 minutes on court, treating those in attendance to an eye-catching spectacle at the Black Ball Sporting Club.

After some loose and error-ridden squash in the opening game, Hesham began to find his rhythm as the match progressed, going blow for blow with Ibrahim and coming from a game behind to lead 2/1.

World No.17 Ibrahim took a one-sided fourth game and looked within reach of an upset at 5-0 up in the fifth, but Hesham kept his composure, reeling off a string of winners to draw parity and eventually edge the deciding game 11-8.

After the match, Hesham said: "First of all, congrats to Youssef on a great performance and a great tournament. I know how hard he fought to get back to his shape after his injury. He's so resilient to be back playing at this level.

"Secondly, I'm really glad with how I was mentally. I was nowhere close to my best in the first game, physically or mentally, I was having a headache, I was a bit dizzy. I'm really glad that I fought back, and that is what the mentality is for. In these matches, you have to figure out a way.

"I tried to slow down, but the more I slow down, I feel I'm going to sleep! I knew it was the right tactic, but I couldn't do it. At 5-0 down I thought, let's do fast and furious and see who comes out on top."

Hesham will face Ali Farag for a spot in the final after the world No.1 saw off the threat of the ever-dangerous Miguel Rodriguez, the 38-year-old from Colombia, in four games.

The second men's semi-final will see an all-Egyptian clash between world No.4 Mostafa Asal and world No.5 Karim Abdel Gawad after Asal won in four games against Fares Dessouky and Gawad defeated Mohamed ElSherbini in straight games.

Meanwhile, in the women's draw, world No.8 Tinne Gilis defeated Rowan Elaraby in four games of hard-fought action.

Gilis found her marks right from the offset, playing some tight lines and utilising her trademark backhand drop into the front left to good effect. After taking the opening game 11-5, Gilis raced into an 8-4 lead against a visibly frustrated Elaraby, and despite the latter mounting a comeback, held on to double her lead.

Game three saw the match flip on its head, with Elaraby coming out with a new-found aggression and holding an extremely high T position. The No.5 seed powered her way through the third game, taking it 11-3.

However, Gilis wasn't to be denied victory, with the Belgian resetting well in the fourth, advancing to the last four after 42 minutes of action.

After the match, Gilis said: "I'm very happy with the way I managed to refocus and reset in the fourth game. Rowan played a very good third game, but I'm very happy that I reset my mind and managed to come back.

"I feel like I had some good parts, and some bad parts where I hit completely the wrong shot. I am definitely happy with my front game. I really wanted to move her to the front today and I think that's what I'm most happy about."

Gilis will take on the No.2 seed, and world No.9 Olivia Weaver for a spot in the Gold level final after the 28-year-old No.2 seed ended the run of Hana Moataz in straight games.

The other semi-final match in the women's draw will see two-time champion Nouran Gohar square off against No.3 seed Nour El Tayeb.

World No.3 Gohar was at her devastating best as she dispatched No.8 seed Nada Abbas in just 28 minutes of action, while El Tayeb overcame No.6 seed Salma Hany by an 11-9, 11-7, 11-6 scoreline.