Asal and El Hammamy defeat World Champions Farag and El Sherbini to reach Finals
Mostafa Asal and Hania El Hammamy toppled World Champions Ali Farag and Nour El Sherbini to reach their first El Gouna finals, where they will meet top seeds Paul Coll and Nouran Gohar.
Asal had never beaten Farag in a best-of-five games match and had lost 11 of their 12 matches on the tour coming into the fixture. This included a thrilling 97-minute battle at the CIB PSA World Championships a fortnight ago, which Farag won en route to his third World Championship title.
However, an inspired performance from Asal – known on tour as the ‘Raging Bull’ – saw him dismantle the World No.1 as he put in one of the performances of his career to date to complete an 11-4, 11-6, 6-11, 11-6 victory which will see him renew his rivalry with World No.2 Paul Coll when he competes in his second Platinum final.
“Paul is an old rival,” said Asal. “We set up good clashes in Egypt, his performances have been unbelievable over the last couple of tournaments and he was World No.1 two days ago. It’s going to be a tough match, but with this crowd we’re going to get the tournament on Egyptian soil.
“The crowd is going to be all over the place tomorrow and boost my confidence and my performance.”
New Zealand’s Coll avenged his defeat to defending El Gouna champion Mohamed ElShorbagy at the CIB PSA World Championships two weeks ago in a dramatic battle which eclipsed the 100-minute mark. With the scores poised at two games apiece, Coll earned himself a 9-6 lead in the decider, at which point a swift end to the match would follow in acrimonious circumstances.
ElShorbagy disagreed vehemently with a video referee stroke decision, and his continued remonstrations with the referee resulted in him being handed a conduct stroke. He continued to argue with the referee and was given another conduct stroke to hand the win to Coll.
“It’s not great to end a good battle like that. We were going hard for over 100 minutes again and it’s a shame for a match to end like that. I don’t really know what to say. It’s a shame. We’re pretty close off court and it’s a shame the match ended like this. It was a good battle.
“We’re playing in 30+ degrees and as hard as that is physically, mentally it’s very hard. Everyone’s using ice between games to cool down and try to stay calm and mentally focused in such hot temperatures.”
In the women’s event, El Hammamy produced a spell-binding performance to beat reigning El Gouna champion El Sherbini – who lifted her sixth World Championship trophy in Cairo two weeks ago – 11-6, 5-11, 14-12, 11-6 in 67 minutes.
21-year-old El Hammamy is no stranger to a major final after wins at the Allam British Open and the CIB Black Ball Women’s Squash Open in recent years, and she will look to capture her third Platinum title when she takes on top seed Nouran Gohar in a repeat of that British Open title decider.
“It definitely feels amazing being able to beat the six-time World Champion,” El Hammamy said afterwards.
“It’s something that I’m always proud of. Playing against Nour is definitely tricky, she’s the best of the best, to be honest. Playing against her makes me so happy and makes me want to play my best because if I’m not bringing my ‘A game’ I’m not able to beat her, so I’m definitely happy with that win.”
Gohar has reached her 11th successive major PSA final – becoming the first player to do so since Malaysia’s Nicol David in 2013 – and her third El Gouna final after beating World No.28 Nour El Tayeb 11-7, 13-11, 4-11, 11-1 in 65 minutes.
A tenacious El Tayeb proved to be a difficult opponent for the hard-hitting Gohar, but she eventually came unstuck in a one-sided fourth game as Gohar continued her tremendous form this season.
“Nour, since I was a junior, has been a role model for us and she’s one of the best and she keeps on being the example, she’s had a baby and is playing like this,” said Gohar.
“Not just me but the whole tour thinks she’s playing better than before. Honestly, I was really excited for the match. It’s been so long since I felt I was challenged, mentally more than anything.”