PSA Day Five Roundup

Asal upsets Coll to reach first PSA Platinum Semi,
El Hammamy wins marathon over Serme …

Reigning World Junior Champion Mostafa Asal overcame World No.5 Paul Coll in a dramatic five-game scrap at the CIB Egyptian Open in front of the famous Great Pyramid of Giza to reach a PSA World Tour Platinum semi-final for the first time.

The enigmatic 19-year-old fought back from 2-1 in an absorbing contest to complete an 8-11, 11-9, 4-11, 11-3, 12-10 victory after 103 minutes of action – sparking wild celebrations that saw him rip off his shirt and sweatband and throw them out of the court.

The match veered from the sublime to the ridiculous, with passages of expertly crafted rallies, incredible shot-making and superhuman retrievals making way for scrappy periods of play and plenty of discussions with the referee, with Coll accusing his opponent of blocking on a few occasions.

For the most part, Coll kept his composure and didn’t get involved in any of the antics on court during the first half of the match, but his focus began to slip the longer the match went on and Asal ground out the victory, resulting in jubilant scenes.

“Everyone who is Egyptian plays like this in this country,” Asal said.

“The support of this crowd is unbelievable. Without them, it wouldn’t be like this.”

Asal will take on top seed and 2019 runner-up Ali Farag in the semi-finals after Farag got the better of 37-year-old veteran Gregory Gaultier.

Farag, the World No.2, was Gaultier’s opponent when the Frenchman last appeared in a PSA World Tour quarter-final two years ago prior to his career-threatening knee injury. Gaultier, making his first Pyramids appearance since 2006, never looked that comfortable on court following an early slip and Farag held his nerve to complete the win in three.

“When I was here at the age of 14 in 2006, I was up there watching him from the stands, and I always dreamt of being on this court, but I never imagined I would be on here with him,” Farag said afterwards.

“The pressure is mostly away because of those situations, so I have maximum respect for him to keep going after all these years and to still be competing at the top level.”

There were also two Egyptian winners in today’s women’s quarter-finals, with reigning World Junior Champion and World No.6 Hania El Hammamy and World No.1 Nouran Gohar beating France’s Camille Serme and Belgium’s Nele Gilis.

El Hammamy claimed a landmark win over Serme when she came from two games down to beat the World No.3 at the Pyramids in their quarter-final battle at the CIB PSA Women’s World Championship 12 months ago.

20-year-old El Hammamy had beaten Serme in three of their last five matches – including that Worlds quarter-final – and prevailed by a 9-11, 17-15, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8 scoreline after 91 gripping minutes, which is the longest women’s match since the restart.

“One year ago, on this court, in front of the Pyramids, that’s when I first started to beat Camille and it’s special today as well,” El Hammamy said.

“It’s never easy to come up every tournament and show this performance and to play five games against her. Today, I’m just happy that I managed to keep pushing myself until the last point. I think everyone can see that I was relieved when Camille put the last shot in the tin, I didn’t even celebrate, I just wanted to get off court and recover.”

Meanwhile, Gohar shrugged off an ankle injury to overcome World No.14 Gilis 11-4, 11-9, 11-9 and she will face El Hammamy for a place in the title decider.

“Honestly, I am trying not to think about being No.1, which really helps,” Gohar said.

“I just feel that becoming World No.1 did not change me as Nouran, and that I still have the same strengths and the same weaknesses. I am just working with my coaches on the same things, so I don’t really thinking about being World No.1 when I enter the court, I just have the same game plan and I try to enjoy myself on court.”

The quarter-finals continue tomorrow at the iconic Great Pyramid of Giza from 18:00 (GMT+2) onwards. Action will be shown live on SQUASHTV, Eurosport Player, and the PSA Facebook page.