Egypt’s World No.28 Nour El Tayeb claimed a sensational victory as she defeated compatriot and World No.3 Hania El Hammamy 11-8, 11-4, 10-12, 11-8 to advance to the semi-finals.
29-year-old El Tayeb gave birth to her first daughter, Farida, just 10 months ago but showed that she is back to the form that took her to a career-high of World No.3 back in 2018 as she produced a shot-making masterclass to reach the last four of the prestigious event for the third time in her career.
The 2018-19 PSA World Championship runner-up took control from the outset to take a 2-0 lead, before El Hammamy showcased her trademark resilience to fight back on the tie-break in the third game. El Tayeb had her resurgence in the fourth though as she had nerves of steel to close out the impressive victory in 76 minutes.
“I pictured myself winning this event so many times, but to actually be in the semis after such matches, is for me an incredible achievement,” said El Tayeb afterwards.
“It’s been very tough with Hania. I was up 2-0 against Hania before and lost, so I know how it feels to be 2-0 up and lose. I took a lot from Paul [Coll]’s match yesterday, who was 2-0 up and then managed to win in the end. The top three girls are very strong and I just beat one of them and hopefully there are two of them left. I’m counting on my family and friends to come and cheer me on tomorrow.”
El Tayeb will now face five-time World Champion Nour El Sherbini for a place in the final of the sport’s most lucrative tournament, where $1,100,000 in total player prize compensation – split equally across the men’s and women’s draws – will be up for grabs.
El Sherbini, competing in her first event for two months, secured her place in the semi-finals after battling past a resilient Sarah-Jane Perry of England, with the Egyptian eventually prevailing 11-5, 8-11, 11-7, 14-12.
“I’m really happy I’m through,” said El Sherbini. “SJ is one of the smartest, if not the smartest, players on tour. She’s very skilful and she was moving really well today. She broke my rhythm a little and I just tried to fight and stick in every point. I’m really happy to sneak the last game.”
El Tayeb will also be joined in the semi-final stage by her husband Ali Farag after he defeated Marwan ElShorbagy in straight-games to reach the last four in the men’s event.
Farag, the defending men’s World Champion, looked to be in total control as he withstood an early onslaught from ElShorbagy to prevail and set up a pivotal encounter with compatriot Mostafa Asal for a place in the final.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better set-up to produce my best squash,” said Farag. “CIB are taking the sport to another level and that makes us feel very proud to be on court.
“I’ve got every single member of my support team, from the age of zero to 30 here with me. I can’t be more inspired, and I hope I can keep up this brand of squash.”
The last men’s winner of the day was Asal as he overcame Peru’s Diego Elias in a tense affair, which was disrupted by decisions and traffic issues, to reach his first PSA World Championship semi-finals.
An intense first game was edged by the Peruvian, before Asal, who was roared on by the home crowd, prevailed in a second game that was plagued by decisions.
Before the third game, referee Sheldon Anderson went down to speak to both players in order to improve the flow of the game, but Elias was unable to shake his frustrations as World No.4 Asal closed out an 9-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-7 win in 76 minutes.
“Every time I’m looking [at my performances],” said Asal. “I have won the World Tour Finals, I have won the US Open, I’m winning major titles, so why not this? It’s going to be my first [World Championship] trophy. First of all, I’m looking forward to my next match, an unbelievable opponent and we are studying each other really well.
“I’m not feeling like it’s a physically tough tournament for me, my matches have been 30 minutes or something like this, so I’m ready to perform and be on here.”
The semi-finals of the CIB PSA World Championships Cairo take place tomorrow (May 21) and play from the Egyptian National Museum of Civilization will start at 18:30 (GMT+2) and will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV and multiple broadcasters around the world.