Quarter-Finals : Marwan downs Mo

The 2023 VITAGEN Singapore Squash Open continued today with eight quarter-final matches at the OCBC Arena, with 15 of the top 16 seeds still in contention.

It was another day of few upsets, with Marwan ElShorbagy‘s five-game win over defending champion Mohamed the only seeding upset. Marwan faces top seed Ali Farag in the semis while in the bottom half of the draw an enticing Diego Elias v Mostafa Asal match looms.

No upsets in the women’s matches with Belgium’s Nele and Tinne Gilis both winning – Tinne claiming a first ever Gold semi-final spot – and they’ll meet English duo Gina Kennedy and Sarah-Jane Perry for a place in the finals.

Reports and quotes below the results …

VITAGEN Singapore Squash Open 2023 : Day FOUR, QUARTER-FINALS

[2] Gina Kennedy (Eng) 3-0 [5] Salma Hany (Egy)   11-9, 11-8, 11-2 (31m)
[3] Nele Gilis (Bel) 3-0 [6] Rowan Elaraby (Egy)   11-9, 13-11, 11-5 (49m)
[4] Tinne Gilis (Bel) 3-1 [7] Sabrina Sobhy (Usa)   11-13, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9 (71m)
[8] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 3-1 Siva Subramaniam (Mas)   8-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-7 (43m)

[1] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-0 [7] Youssef Soliman (Egy)   11-5, 11-7, 11-7 (43m)
[6] Marwan ElShorbagy (Eng) 3-2 [3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng)   12-10, 7-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6 (67m)
[4] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-1 [5] Paul Coll (Nzl)   11-9, 5-11, 11-5, 11-9 (81m)
[2] Diego Elias (Per) 3-0 [8] Fares Dessouky (Egy)   11-9, 11-4, 11-7 (44m)

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[3] Nele Gilis (Bel) 3-0 [6] Rowan Elaraby (Egy)   11-9, 13-11, 11-5 (49m)

Nele grabs the first semi spot

An intense tie between Nele Gilis and Rowan Elaraby opened up play on quarter finals day at the OCBC Arena with the semi-finals of the PSA Gold event beckoning.

The Belgian ran out to a 4-1 lead, Elaraby battled well to equalise at 4-4 then Gilis accelerated reach 10-5, taking the lead on her fourth game ball.

It was Elaraby who started better o in the second game to lead 4-1. Gilis started to fight back and moved ahead to 10-8, eventually taking it 13-11 to take a 2-0 lead.

Gilis mopped up game three 11-5 to record her first 3-0 win over Elaraby and make her way through to the semis.

“It’s always edgy against Rowan because she’s such a good player. “She’s definitely one of the most talented players on tour and if you leave anything in the middle she will finish it so I’m glad that I managed to stick to my game plan and win.

“It feels amazing to win. Now I can forget about last years quarter final loss. I love playing here and I’m excited to have another semi-final to play.”

Marwan wins the Singapore Sibling Showdown

[6] Marwan ElShorbagy (Eng) 3-2 [3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng)   12-10, 7-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6 (67m)

One ElShorbagy brother was guaranteed to be in the semi-finals of the VITAGEN Singapore Squash Open as Mohamed and Marwan ElShorbagy took to the court in the second match of the day for a spot in the final four.

The opening game was close, Mohamed earned the first game balls at 10-8 but a run of four points saw Marwan steal the game 12-10.

Mohamed seemed to increase the pace and intensity as he took the next two games to lead 2-1. The fourth game was close throughout, but it was Marwan who found the extra touches to lead 9-7 and held on to force a decider 11-9.

A quick start from Marwan in the fifth saw him take a 6-3 lead with Mohamed looking a little tired, and although he pegged back the lead a little Marwan pulled away again, taking the win on his first game ball.

“It’s always tough to play my brother, I apologise to him. We’re more used to it now. I was trying to focus and kill my emotion and just concentrate on what I had to do. But I’m happy to win and I’m looking forward to my semi-final tomorrow.

“Even when I was up in the fifth and I could see him struggling, I was thinking about keeping my focus because he can come back any time and he’s such a fighter. It’]s so hard mentally and being on court with him is never comfortable, it never gets any easier. We both appreciate being on tour together and I think in 10 years time we will look back at these matches fondly.”

Kennedy powers past Hany

[2] Gina Kennedy (Eng) 3-0 [5] Salma Hany (Egy)   11-9, 11-8, 11-2 (31m)

England’s Gina Kennedy powered past Egypt’s Salma Hany to take a place in her third Gold event semi-final.

The Englishwoman kept a relentless pace of play, making her Egyptian opponent work really hard to find any winners, and although she managed to stay in touch in the first two games Kennedy took both before running away with the third.

“Playing Salma is so difficult. Any loss in focus is so dangerous because points can just run away from you. I got impatient in some phases of that match but I tried to remain positive.

“I’m definitely a lot happier with my performance today. I was finding my targets really well and I think Salma is one of the best length hitters in the women’s game so I’m glad I found my targets today.

“It’s quite an exciting match up, I think we’re both known for out retrieval skills and both have good engines on us so looking forward to that one.”

Farag in top form over Soliman

[1] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-0 [7] Youssef Soliman (Egy)   11-5, 11-7, 11-7 (43m)

World #1 and top seed Ali Farag wasted no time in booking his place in yet another Gold event semi-final as he overcame compatriot Youssef Soliman in straight games.

After an attritional opening game which Farag always led, he started to turn the screw further. The final two games both went in Farag’s favour 11-7 as he moves into the semi-finals where he will face bogey player Marwan ElShorbagy.

“It was very difficult. Youssef is becoming technically smarter and smarter every season. He tries to exploit your weaknesses. The friendship that we have off-court makes it harder on-court – that’s why I was very edgy.

“From my side, I think I played really well. I didn’t overcomplicate things. I was a little bit worried he would read my shots well as we train together and we played so many times, but I kept things simple even when he was playing better at the beginning of the second.

“Against Marwan I know it’s going to be tough. He had a good win today. When Marwan is playing his level, he’s such a dangerous opponent so I’m going to get ready for that one and I’m looking forward to it.”

Tinne wins thriller to reach first Gold semi

[4] Tinne Gilis (Bel) 3-1 [7] Sabrina Sobhy (Usa)   11-13, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9 (71m)

Tinne and Sabrina had met twice before winning one each, most recently in 2022 when Tinne knocked Sabrina out of the El Gouna International in the second round.

Gilis took an early 5-1 lead in the first game but Sobhy drew level at 8-8 and earned two game balls. Tinne saved those but the game went to Sabrina in extra points.

The Belgian looked unstoppable in the second as she marched to a 10-3 lead, eventually taking it 11-8. The third game was closer, with the Belgian holding the lead and working her way to 10-6, converting the on the first opportunity.

Tinne lead most of the final game, but never by much and Sabrina levelled at 9-9, but Tinne closed it out to progress to her first Gold semi final after the second longest match of her career.

“I’m very very happy with this win. Sabrina is such a good player – so talented – and every time I play her is such a battle, she pushed me to the max today and I feel this kind of victory makes it even more special.

“Whoever it’s going to be tomorrow I’m going to fight until I roll off court, but I’m definitely excited to be in the semi-final tomorrow for the first time and hopefully I can put on a good performance and hopefully the crowd will enjoy it.”

Asal ousts Coll in brutal exchange

[4] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-1 [5] Paul Coll (Nzl)   11-9, 5-11, 11-5, 11-9 (81m)

Egypt’s Mostafa Asal came into the match with a dominant record over New Zealand’s Paul Coll, winning six of the nine matches between them.

In a brutal 25 minute first game, it was Coll who started stronger, leading 6-3, but  Asal slowly edged himself back, taking the lead 11-9. Coll responded in the second as he raced away to 6-1 lead, levelling 11-5.

The third game went point-for-point at the start before Asal raced ahead to take the lead. The fourth  stop-start with numerous spills and decisions, but Asal took the lead from the midway point and kept ahead to seal the victory.

“It’s unreal, I hope every enjoyed this battle between me and Paul. I’m super happy to get the win today. I respect Paul as a player – he’s in form – I’m super happy to be back, I’m super happy to do the Ronaldo G.O.A.T. celebration.

“I want to be tough mentally. I’m happy that I’m analysing things inside the court, I’m fixing some attitude. I’m super happy for a full crowd today and I can’t wait to battling again tomorrow.”

SJ ends Siva’s run

[8] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 3-1 Siva Subramaniam (Mas)   8-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-7 (43m)

England’s Sarah-Jane Perry had not lost to Malaysia’s Sivasangari Subramaniam in three meetings, but Siva came into the match on a high after defeating top seed Nour El Tayeb, and it was the Malaysian who took the lead.

Perry struck back to take the second and third, just, and opened up a 5-2 lead in the fourth, advancing to 10-7  and converting her second match ball to progress to her first semi final since the 2022 Manchester Open.

“Despite being the higher seed, I wasn’t the one coming in with the pressure on my shoulders. Sivasangari had an incredible win yesterday against Nour who’s such a fantastic player, so I feel like she’d have wanted to back things up after that win whereas I feel like no one’s really expected much from me at the moment apart from myself and my coach.

“I was proud of the way I focused and knuckled down and some of the work that I’ve been putting in has started to show so I think that’s definitely how i wanted to go in and that’s only going to build my confidence.

“Last season was incredibly tough for me. I don’t like to make excuses or anything, but I did everything I could on those days, and I knew I was trying and it was really to tough to see my performances declining throughout the season, but thankfully I had some improvements with my health so I knew I was in shape to start testing the top players and backing myself.”

Elias eases past Dessouky

[2] Diego Elias (Per) 3-0 [8] Fares Dessouky (Egy)   11-9, 11-4, 11-7 (44m)

This was the eighth time that Peru’s Diego Elias and Egypt’s Fares Dessouky have met, with the ‘Peruvian Puma’ winning five of those occasions, most recently in the 2022 Motor City Open.

The first game was filled with high quality squash. The pair both played with attacking intent, which left an ‘exhibition’ feel as they both went for outrageous winners, but Elias stayed on top in the score as he took the lead.

Errors cost Dessouky in the second as Elias doubled his lead, and again in the third as Elias moved ahead at the end of the game to secure a semi-final spot against Mostafa Asal.

“The first game was crucial, because once Fares gets confident he’s really tough so I’m happy with that.

“Tomorrow’s going to be tough. Facing Asal is always really tough so I just have have to work, recover and get ready for a tough match.”