The 2023 VITAGEN Singapore Squash Open approached its climax today with the finalists decided at the OCBC Arena.
The men’s final will be between top two seeds and the world number 1 and 2 after Ali Farag put in a masterclass against Marwan ElShorbagy and Diego Elias repeated his semi-final win over Mostafa Asal here last year but this time in a completed match.
First Gold Final for Nele
 Nele Gilis (Bel) 3-2  Gina Kennedy (Eng) 12-10, 8-11, 7-11, 11-4, 11-3 (74m)
Belgium’s Nele Gilis reached her first PSA Gold event final after downing second seed Georgina Kennedy in a brutal five-game clash.
As expected, the match started in attritional style with both players not playing too much to the front of the court and opting to find their line and length in the back corners before taking the ball in. The opening game entered a tiebreak and it was Gilis who converted.
The second game was played in similar style, but this time it was Kennedy who came out on top, as she did in the third to take the lead.
Gilis opted for a new ball for the start of the fourth game, and it paid dividends as she dominated the final two games to reach the final.
“She is so strong physically so I tried to take that away from her. I tried to stop/start her, it’s very difficult and I think I did that better in the last two games. I would love to play my sister in the final tomorrow.
“I’ll be watching from my bed but I just hope it’s a good match and secretly I’m hoping for an all-sister final.”
Imperious Farag through to the final
 Ali Farag (Egy) 3-0  Marwan ElShorbagy (Eng) 11-6, 11-5, 11-2 (34m)
England’s Marwan ElShorbagy was in a small group of players who held a positive head-to-head record against World #1 Ali Farag as he lead 8-7 coming into today’s semi-final clash.
The Englishman scored a win over brother Mohamed ElShorbagy in the quarter finals yesterday and started in great form as he as he moved ahead to 4-1 on the scoreboard. Farag quickly found his groove however and started to claw points back rapidly. Marwan only took two more points as he lost the first 11-6.
Farag raced out to a 4-0 lead in game two with ElShorbagy becoming increasingly frustrated with some decisions from the referee, but Farag just kept the pressure on to take the game 11-5 and then, against a now dispirited Marwan, claim the third 11-2 for a place in the final.
“Karim Darwish is the master behind these tactics. He sent me a voice note with some things to do and not to do. The first point, I did exactly what I wanted to do then went 4-1 down which was not ideal but I’m happy with the way I came back to win 3-0.
“I executed my plan better than perfectly. I think I only beat Marwan 3-0 once or maybe twice. You can see in the head-to-head that he is someone I regard very highly. I had to take away his length hitting and to do that for the majority the points is something that I’m very happy with.
“So far, so good for me this week. I’ve been playing some of my best squash here this week. Thanks to all the sponsors and fans for allowing me to do this and hopefully there will be two quality finals tomorrow.”
Tinne through to Gold sibling final
 Tinne Gilis (Bel) 3-1  Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 11-7, 11-5, 7-11, 11-8 (44m)
The Belgian had the better head-to-head record coming into the match, winning two of the three meetings including their most recent match in round two of the El Gouna International.
Gilis earned an early lead in the first game, but Perry made the World #10 work hard to maintain her advantage, which she did taking the lead 11-7 and then doubling her advantage 11-5 in the second.
The third game went point-for-point up to 6-6. The resurgent Englishwoman pushed on to a two point lead, and made no mistake taking her first game ball to halve the deficit.
The 33-year-old took an early lead in the fourth game, but Gilis quickly caught to lead 4-3 lead, and at 10-8 got a stroke decision for racket contact that took her into a final against her big sister.
“At the end of the game, literally every loose shot I played, she played the perfect shot. I couldn’t even be frustrated because there was just no way I could pick it up and I just needed to keep it out of the middle and i got a bit lucky with a few unforced errors. I tried to dig deep and fight for every point and make the rallies as long as possible.
“It’s an unfortunate end. It’s not nice ending the match like that, but on the other side I’m really happy to be in my biggest final ever.
“My Mum already woke up at 5-6am this morning to watch Nele’s match so I’m sure she’s very very happy and proud. Thank you so much Mum for watching – you’re the best. I’m happy and proud of Nele managing to reach the final. It’s going to be a sister battle tomorrow so let’s see. What happens happens, I’m going to be ready and up for a fight.”
Diego gets first real win over Mostafa
 Diego Elias (Per) 3-1  Mostafa Asal (Egy) 4-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 (68m)
Egypt’s Mostafa Asal came into the semi final after defeating U.S. Open champion Paul Coll in the quarter final and narrowly missing out on a title in Malaysia after losing in the final. Second seed Diego Elias had not dropped a game on his route to the semi final and reached the semi final in his previous tournament – The U.S. Open, losing to eventual winnerl Coll.
Asal began the first game with intensity, scoring six unanswered points before taking the lead 11-4 looking fully in control.
Elias settled in the second though, and from 0-2 dominated proceedings to level 11-5 then did more of the same in th third to take the lead 11-7.
In the fourth Asal led 4-2 and 7-5, but Elias had the scent of victory, and with the assistance of some refereeing decisions against Asal moved tantalisingly close to that elusive first ‘real’ win.
It came soon enough, and as Asal tinned on the first match ball Elias erupted with delight.
“I’ve been feeling good the whole week really. I’m very excited to be in another final here, and hopefully I can win. Tomorrow is my birthday so that would be a pretty good present.
“Thanks everyone for coming. It’s always a great atmosphere here. All the players love it here.”
Kennedy v Gilis : Both will be eying their first final of the season, and with top seed Tayeb out the victor here will be favourite to take the title. Nele leads the H2H 3-1 but Gina’s win came in their last meeting.
Farag v ElShorbagy : A rare blip for World #1 Farag saw him just fall short in the US Open, but looks to be back to his best form here. Marwan will be buzzing from beating brother Mohamed in a five game thriller. Although Marwan leads the H2H 8-7, Farag has won their last three meetings ending a run of four wins for Marwan.
Gilis v Perry : For Tinne this is a first Gold level semi-final, for SJ it’s her first last four appearance for 18 months. The H2H favours Tinne 2-1 but all three meeting to date have gone to five games averaging 63 minutes.
Elias v Asal : Both have been World Junior Champion twice, and World #1 for brief periods. They’ve met nine times with the Egyptian leading 8-1 although he has more minutes in his legs this week, 127 to 74. Average match time is 85 minutes, which includes a 37 minute retirement (Diego’s only win, here last year) and a 90 minute best of three.