Day Five Roundup

Asal battles Past Abouelghar to reach El Gouna International quarters

World Junior Champion Mostafa Asal battled to a scrappy 3-2 victory over compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar earlier today to reach the quarter-finals of the El Gouna International Squash Open after 103 minutes of drama.

After a high-quality beginning to the match, the fixture then fell into a scrappy battle which saw the referee called into action on numerous occasions. After Asal took a third game littered with strokes, Abouelghar – who downed the in-form Marwan ElShorbagy in the previous round – pounced in the fourth as he drew level after dropping a solitary point, before going 6-1 ahead in the decider.

Asal fought back though and a controversial no let on his second match ball handed the match to the Egyptian, who completed a 12-10, 4-11, 14-12, 1-11, 12-10 victory to reach the quarters here for the first time, where he will face World No.7 Fares Dessouky.

“I am so happy that I won today,” said Asal.

“It is unbelievable for me to beat someone like Abou. He is on top form and we saw his match against Marwan, it was an unbelievable match. I was expecting to go home today, but I am happy that I made it today.

“I am thankful for the crowd and thankful for Tournament Promoter Amr Mansi for this amazing tournament in El Gouna. As Mohamed [ElShorbagy] said, it is also about the mental game, you have to be tough mentally and this is what the last few years of experience have given me. I am becoming more and more mentally tough and I am happy that I recovered from 6-1 down in the fifth.”

Asal’s victory came following a 45-minute break in play due to humidity earlier in the night, which saw top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy and Baptiste Masotti forced to wait on the sidelines until the court conditions improved.

Masotti made the stronger start of the two when they did eventually get onto court, but ElShorbagy turned things around to record a 10-12, 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 win and he will take on Welshman Joel Makin in the next round as he looks to avenge his defeat to the World No.9 in March’s CIB Black Ball Open.

“I played him at Black Ball a month ago and he is a player who goes out to win every single match and that is what I admire about him, and he has the character to go all the way to the top one day,” ElShorbagy explained.

“He is young but at the same time, he doesn’t want to wait, he wants it now, he wants it more than anything. I can see it in his eyes because that is how I was when I was young. I respect that about him, and he gave me a huge battle.”

World No.4 Camille Serme moved through to the quarter-finals of the women’s tournament after she beat Canada’s Hollie Naughton 11-5, 11-7, 11-2.

The Frenchwoman will play Egypt’s Hania El Hammamy next after the World No.7 defeated Nada Abbas 3-1. The pair have met 10 times on the PSA World Tour – with many of those going on to be match of the season contenders – and Serme will look to extend her 6-4 head-to-head lead over her young opponent.

“I found my targets better than the other day,” Serme said.

“I felt good physically and was moving pretty well, so I could get her shots and I think she struggled a bit with the court. That’s the advantage of having one more match on there, which is unlucky for her.”

The other match on the glass court saw an injury to Alison Waters cut her match with England teammate Sarah-Jane Perry short, with Perry moving on to play World No.1 Nour El Sherbini in the last eight. El Sherbini received a walkover into the quarter-finals after her third round opponent, Yathreb Adel, withdrew through injury.

“Me and Alison are really good friends and pre-COVID we were usually roommates, so we have spent a lot of time together,” Perry said.

“I hope it’s nothing too bad that she has done and that she is back as soon as possible. There have always been questions about my fitness to get through tournaments, but I think that’s why I was pleased with the Black Ball win in December, to not just show I could play five matches in five days but to still come out the other end and to come out with the win.”