It was an Egyptian clean sweep on Day Six in Chicago as contrasting victories saw Mostafa Asal, Ali Farag, Nouran Gohar and Hania El Hammamy through to the semi-finals in the top half of the draws.
Top seed Asal edged past comatriot Mazen Hesham 12-10 in the fifth while defending champion Farag beat Kiwi Paul Coll in convincing fashion. Gohar justified her top seeding with a clinical win over Nour El Tayeb while Hammamy ended home hopes as she beat Amanda Sobhy in similar fashion.
Gohar Storms Past El Tayeb
World No.2 Nouran Gohar put in a statement performance in the quarter-finals as she stormed to a 3-0 victory over 2019 runner-up Nour El Tayeb at Chicago’s Union Station.
Gohar – the runner-up in the previous two World Championships – lost her World No.1 spot to fellow Egyptian Nour El Sherbini today after 57 consecutive weeks at the summit, and the 25-year-old looks determined to get it back after a ruthless performance saw her put El Tayeb to the sword.
12 of the pair’s 17 matches on the PSA Tour had gone the way of Gohar coming into today’s fixture and the 25-year-old added another win to her record, beating El Tayeb by an 11-5, 11-6, 11-5 scoreline in 31 minutes.
Both players took a little bit of time to settle in the match. It was neck and neck in the early stages of the opener, with some nerves perhaps coming into play, but Gohar was the first to compose herself and from there she didn’t look back.
The 21-time PSA title winner hit her targets to the back of the court with accuracy and moved El Tayeb away from the ’T’, taking time and attacking opportunities away from her opponent, who looked edgy and didn’t hit the winners squash fans are accustomed to seeing from the World No.6.
Gohar is now one win away from a third successive World Championship final. Her semi-final opponent will be either World No.3 Hania El Hammamy or United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy, with the pair set to play later this evening.
“Nour is a very high-quality player,” said Gohar. “She has so much experience, so much talent and to beat her in three is an amazing result. I’m glad with the way I played, but I’m still not done yet. I’m just thinking a match at a time and not really about what I did in the past few days.
“I just focus on what I have now. Every day I’m trying to improve more than the other day and hopefully I’ll be sharper in the next match as well. In the past, I didn’t really like rest days, but at such a big event like the World Championships, rest days help because it’s a long one and sometimes you need to recharge, refocus and get back on court, so it’s actually good.
“I’m really looking forward to my rest day and hopefully it’s going to be a good semi-final.”
Result :  Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt  Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-5 (31m)
Asal beats Hesham in Dramatic Five Gamer
Egypt’s top seed Mostafa Asal booked his place in the semi-finals following a dramatic 3-2 victory over World No.9 Mazen Hesham.
It was the pair’s first meeting since a bad-tempered match at the CIB Egyptian Open towards the back end of 2022, with Asal later receiving a six-week suspension for dangerous play during that fixture.
Tonight’s clash was less scrappy in nature in the early stages, but was still tightly-contested, though neither player truly found their best squash at the same time as the other.
Asal fought back from a 4-1 deficit in the first game, eventually going through the gears to win it 11-9, but he came completely off the boil in the second, taking just three points.
Asal was looking flat and virtually conceded the second game as it became clear it was running away from him. But he came out a different player in the third, with Hesham making a number of unforced errors as Asal stormed back to re-establish his lead.
The fourth game saw the game devolve into a number of scrappy rallies, with the referee being forced to make numerous decisions. It was Hesham who kept his nerve to draw level, sending the contest into a nail-biting fifth game.
It looked for all the world as if Hesham was on course to book his spot in the last four for the first time when he powered into a 9-5 lead in the decider. But some sloppiness from Hesham saw Asal reel his compatriot back in and Hesham soon lost his composure, receiving a conduct warning for dissent after he disagreed with a decision not to penalise Asal’s movement.
The comeback was soon complete for Asal, who snuck it 12-10, resulting in raucous celebrations from the Egyptian, who will celebrate his 22nd birthday tomorrow.
“I thought I was going back to Cairo,” said Asal. “It was very difficult, Mazen is an amazing player. I played until the last second and I was expecting to be going home, I was thinking it was going to be a nightmare birthday for me. He was playing some superb squash and he was attacking too much and my length wasn’t good in the fourth or the fifth, but then I played on in the last minutes until the last second.
“It’s all God’s plan and good luck. I’m so happy to move through. There were a lot of emotions happening, you are fighting with lots of things outside the court and inside the court.
“I’m happy with my mental side of the game. It’s really what pushed me and at this stage of my career I reached No.1 with it. I’m looking forward to my next celebrations.”
Result : Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt  Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-2: 11-9, 3-11, 11-6, 5-11, 12-10 (74m)
El Hammamy Downs Sobhy
World No.3 Hania El Hammamy was in scintillating form as she comprehensively defeated Amanda Sobhy 3-0 to secure a semi-final berth.
El Hammamy, who escaped a shock result against teenage sensation Amina Orfi in the previous round, was impressive in her quest for a place in the last four.
The Egyptian flew out of the blocks in the opening game as she stormed into an 8-0 lead before seeing the game out with an 11-4 win.
Her opponent Sobhy, who became the second American woman to reach 400 PSA World Tour matches after Latasha Khan, had no answer to the relentless El Hammamy who clinched the second 11-6.
Her semi-final spot was sewn up in just 32 minutes with El Hammamy dominating again 11-5 in the third, with Nouran Gohar waiting for her in the semi-finals.
“First of all I’m definitely happy with the way I performed and how I was able to be consistent throughout the whole match,” said El Hammamy.
“I lost to Amanda two weeks ago at the British Open. I wasn’t really happy with how I performed mentally or tactically. I came here with a plan today and I’m happy to be able to execute it well.
“I had a couple of testing rounds at the beginning of the tournament. It’s great to have challenging matches at the beginning so they can give you more confidence for the next rounds.
“I need to focus on myself and my tactics against her [Gohar]. I need to mentally and physically recover for Wednesday.”
Result :  Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Amanda Sobhy (USA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-5 (32m)
Reigning Champion Farag Overcomes Coll
Three-time World Champion Ali Farag continued his impressive defence of his crown with an imposing display against Paul Coll.
The reigning champion produced some stellar squash to move a step closer to retaining his title, with the opening game demonstrating that with a dominant 11-3 win.
The Egyptian’s only lapse came in the second game when Coll responded superbly well to going a game behind, but Farag was back in the driving seat with a comprehensive 11-2 victory.
The former World No.1 closed out the match inside 47 minutes, sealing the fourth 11-4 and setting up a semi-final clash with Mostafa Asal.
“Paul has gotten the better of me in the most recent matches we’ve had against each other,” said Farag. “He’s made me a better player by exploiting my weaknesses. I’ve had to go back to the drawing board with Karim [Darwish] on a few things. Nothing feels better than when you see that come to fruition.
“He executed his game better than I did in the second and the beginning of the third. I had to dig in, get a lot of balls back and keep running until things turned my way. When it happened, I capitalised on it.
“I think we all do approach the World Champs differently to other events. We don’t intentionally do it, but the aura of the tournament and the fact that we all want to get our hands on that trophy makes you try to peak for it.
“I don’t think I do anything differently, but I think the focus is there a bit more.
“There are always areas with every opponent that you can exploit. Obviously he has a lot of strengths as well and he will try to exploit my weaknesses too, it’s about who can execute his game plan better.
“The tricky matches that he has had is testament to the type of character he is and I’m sure it’s not going to be any different after tomorrow.”
Result :  Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Paul Coll (NZL) 3-1: 11-3, 5-11, 11-2, 11-4 (47m)