The first quarterfinals session at the 2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family produced four Egyptian semifinalists, all of whom fulfilled their top-four seeding Wednesday night, February 27, in Chicago’s Union Station.
Both defending world champions and world No. 1’s, Mohamed ElShorbagy and Raneem El Welily, kept their title defense alive in four games.
In the match of the day and a rematch of the 2018 British Open final, ElShorbagy came back from 1-0 down in games to defeat Colombia’s six seed Miguel Angel Rodriguez 5-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6 after an hour.
“I actually think this is one of the best times he has played against me,” ElShorbagy said. “From the first point I could see his focus, and I knew that I was one for a battle tonight. I could see that if I needed to win a point then he wasn’t going to give it easy to me today. I had to win the point myself and I had to extend the rallies as much as possible. It was very tough playing him tonight and every point we played, physically and mentally, I had to get my tactics right after I lost that first game, and I’m really glad I pulled through in the end.”
Last spring, Rodriguez upset ElShorbagy at the British Open to win his first career PSA World Platinum title. ElShorbagy is aiming for what would be his second career and successive world title.
“[Coach David] Palmer and me worked out a plan after that first game, and we needed to look at what was happening and that’s what you had to do. You go on with a game plan and, if it’s not working, then you have to get the next one on and tonight, I had to do that.”
Mohamed’s younger brother, Marwan, was less fortunate on court against Egyptian teammate and four seed Tarek Momen. Momen, who survived a close five-game encounter with Mohamed Abouelghar in the third round, put in a clinical performance to dispatch the 2017 world championship finalist in three games and thirty-three minutes 11-5, 11-4, 11-6.
“This result is more than I could ever have dreamed of because I had a very tough five-game match with Abouelghar and to keep my hopes alive in this tournament, I needed an easier match today,” Momen said. “I’m also happy to be back in the semifinals of the World Championship, the last time was 2015, also in the U.S., so I’m happy to be back.”
El Welily, Momen’s wife, similarly held off a challenge from a fellow Egyptian in the form of eight seed Nouran Gohar. After splitting the first two games, El Welily resolutely took the match in four 11-4, 6-11, 11-4, 11-2 in thirty-seven minutes.
“I was a bit nervous to be honest,” said El Welily, a three-time World Championship finalist. “Nouran and I have played many times this season, with the last being ten days ago at the nationals and she beat me, so I was a bit edgy at the start. But I managed to push myself through the pressure to handle the situation that I was put in, and I’m pleased with that.”
El Welily will face World No.4 Nour El Tayeb in the next round after she ended the run of Hong Kong’s Annie Au, winning 11-5, 11-7, 11-6 in just twenty-five minutes.
Au had beaten former World Champion Laura Massaro in the previous round to become the first player from Hong Kong ever to reach the quarter-finals of the sport’s biggest tournament, but she was unable to get into the match against a ruthless El Tayeb.
“For me, anyone who beats Laura, I worry,” said the 25-year-old Egyptian. “Last time I played Laura was a few months ago and I lost in three, so anyone who beats Laura scares me, but I was ready for it. I tried to take away all the time for her because she hits so many lobs. I hope I can become more relaxed now that I have made it to my second semi-final in a row, and I’m excited for whoever I play next.”
Tickets are still available for all rounds of glass court play with prices ranging from $30 to $160 on ticketmaster.com. Live action up until the semifinals will be streamed on the PSA Facebook page and Facebook Watch. Watch all the glass court action from round one to the finals live on SQUASHTV.
For more information and tournament coverage visit psaworldchampionships.com.