A dramatic semifinals night in Grand Central Terminal saw Germany’s Simon Rösner and Egypt’s Tarek Momen upset top seeds, while world No. 1 Nour El Sherbini and Nour El Tayeb will contest an all-Egyptian J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions women’s final Thursday night in Vanderbilt Hall.
The women’s session led off the evening with El Sherbini, the 2016 champion, up against England’s world No. 4 Laura Massaro. It was Massaro who started on the front foot, speeding to a 9-0 lead in the first game before closing it out 4-11. The twenty-two-year fought back in a close second to level the score 12-10, before pulling away to win the match in four games and forty-six minutes.
“At the beginning she was killing everything,” El Sherbini said. “Even though I was sure I was going to lose the first game, I just wanted to get some points and play until the last point. I think the second game was very crucial and I think that’s what made the difference.”
Defending champion Camille Serme followed on against U.S. Open champion and eight seed Nour El Tayeb. From the beginning of the match, the Egyptian was firing on all cylinders hitting winner after winner and leaving Serme without any chance of clawing back after losing the a close first game 12-10. El Tayeb powered on through the second and third games to win the match 11-6, 11-3 in thirty-six minutes.
“Camille is one of the hardest players to play against,” El Tayeb said. “She’s someone I have learned a lot from and she caught me by surprise, volleying everything and not allowing any balls to pass by. It took me a while to get used to her game, even though we’ve played over 10 times, it’s still hard to get used to her game. I’m happy I won the first game, it played a crucial part in the match.”
The ensuing men’s semifinals began with a monumental result for Rösner, who defeated world No. 1 Gregory Gaultier to reach his first career World Series final. Rösner, the world No. 8, came back from losing the first game to earn a 2-1 advantage. After three grueling games, the German wore down his French opponent to cruise in the fourth and final game, clinching the match 11-1 after sixty-nine minutes.
“It’s definitely the biggest win of my career,” Rösner said. “To beat him at this stage and reach the final is amazing. I think I’ve lost to Greg more than 16 times, I think I’ve lost to him about 30 times including the Europeans and World [Team] Championships. I know I’ve beaten him before, but that was a best-of-three format [during the 2013 PSA World Series Finals] so beating him in a best-of-five is unbelievable. I don’t know how to describe it, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
Rösner’s first career World Series semifinal appearance came in the 2017 Qatar Classic, where Egypt’s Tarek Momen reached his first career World Series final. The ToC proved to be another breakthrough for both players as Momen upset three seed and U.S. Open champion Ali Farag in a thrilling eighty-minute, five-game match. The back-and-forth match extended to 9-all in the fifth, at which point Momen forced two errors to defeat his fellow Egyptian.
“To beat Ali is unbelievable, I can’t believe that I was 8-4 down in the fifth and I made it,” Momen said. “I was running on fumes and I just kept pushing and believing in myself. I thought that this is my chance and I had to push until the end. I’m so glad I did, now I’m in a second final this season, I can’t believe that I’m having a very good season and I have one more push tomorrow. I’m going to fight until the end and hopefully I can get my first [World Series] title.”
Thursday night’s finals begin at 7pm ET. Watch live on SquashTV.