8:09 am
17 Jun 2024

Diego Downs Gawad To Become First South American To Reach World Championship Semis

16 May 2024

Diego Elias has become the first South American to reach the semi-finals of the CIB PSA World Championships after defeating former World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad 3/0 at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo.

Elias, who lost out to Gawad in the quarter finals last season, avenged that defeat with a dominant performance over the 2016 World Champion to progress to the event's last four for the first time in his career.

The Peruvian did an excellent job of neutralising Gawad and converting his opportunities when they were presented to him, with his accuracy leaving the Egyptian short of answers. Elias held off a late surge from Gawad in the third to close out an 11-5, 11-1, 11-6 win.

"Playing Karim in Egypt is always tough and I'm just really happy. I was focused from the first point and I'm super happy with that performance," he said.

"I'm super happy with how I played in all these rounds. I'm feeling great, I'm feeling fresh and it's going to be a great match [against Ali Farag].

"I'm here with my dad and all my team and I've been doing a lot of sessions in the gym and a lot of recovery and hitting with my dad. It's been really long days with playing last every night and I'm enjoying my time here.

"I felt great but I didn't expect this. I played great squash like I have been all week and I'm happy to win in three."

Elias' semi-final opponent will be the defending champion Ali Farag, who downed 2019 World Champion Tarek Momen in straight games.

The four-time World champion overcame Momen 11-3, 11-8, 11-6 in 52 minutes, as Farag kept Momen at bay to extend his unbeaten run over his fellow Egyptian to 15 matches on the PSA World Tour.

The other men's semi will be contested between Paul Coll and Mostafa Asal, after they defeated Mohamed ElShorbagy and Mazen Hesham, respectively, at the Palm Hills Club.

In the women's draw, Olivia Weaver progressed to the last four of the World Championships for the first time in her career after stopping unseeded Fayrouz Aboelkheir 3/1 at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.

It was the first time Weaver and Aboelkheir had met on the PSA World Tour, and the American's experience told against the teenager as she took a two-game lead.

However Aboelkheir halved the match deficit as she started to get on the ball early and finding the back corners well, taking the game 11-3. But Weaver got back to what she was doing best in the first two games while regaining control of the 'T' and finding her targets again to seal the match with an 11-3 success in the fourth.

"It feels great," Weaver said.

"That was a huge match and a huge opportunity for both of us - our first time in the quarter finals. It's funny as the first time I met Fayrouz [Aboelkheir] was during 2020 in Covid and I was training in Alexandria for a few days and they asked me if I wanted to get on court with a 15-year-old who was No.1 in the 17s, and I could tell very quickly that she was going to get to this top level at a very young age.

"All credit to her for coming out and playing aggressively and to perform like that under these circumstances is very impressive, she's had a great run this week and she's got a bright future.

"Rod [Martin] has been in my corner all week which has been incredible and I've been working so hard with all my team and my family has been backing me with all the work we've been putting in for all these years.

"It was obvious I needed to come back out in the fourth and change some things and find my game again. It was a combination of her skill and hold but I lost my accuracy and my length a bit. It was about going back to doing what I've been doing well this season which is getting the ball into the back corners and being aggressive around the middle."

Standing in Weaver's way of a place in the final is seven-time World Champion Nour El Sherbini, who produced a clinical display against Tinne Gilis to safely progress to the last four.

El Sherbini's accuracy and shot selection was too much for Gilis as she moved a step closer to a record-equalling eighth World crown with an 11-2, 11-8, 11-5 victory in 27 minutes.