Day SEVEN : Semi-Finals

It’s semi-finals day, with four great matches in store for the sellout crowd at The Rep, and for fans around the world

British Open 2023 : Day SEVEN, SEMI-FINALS

[1] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-0 [4] Joelle King (Nzl)  11-3, 11-9, 11-1 (33m)

[2] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-1 [7] Mazen Hesham (Egy)  11-4, 11-4, 8-11, 11-2 (42m)

[2] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-2 [5] Amanda Sobhy (Usa)  4-11, 11-5, 11-2, 9-11, 11-6 (59m)

[1] Diego Elias (Per) 3-1 [3] Paul Coll (Nzl)  11-4, 11-3, 2-11, 11-1 (61m)


Reports and Reaction

Elias ends Coll’s reign to reach first BO final

[1] Diego Elias (Per) 3-1 [3] Paul Coll (Nzl)  11-4, 11-3, 2-11, 11-1 (61m)

World No.1 in waiting Diego Elias knocked out defending British Open champion Paul Coll to set up a decider against Ali Farag.

Elias, who will sit at the top of the PSA World Rankings on Monday, crowned the milestone of becoming the first-ever South American to be World No.1 with a final appearance after beating Coll 3-1.

The Peruvian Puma showed why he will become the top male player next week when he took a two-game lead, winning 11-4 and 11-3, but the back-to-back defending champion Coll landed the perfect riposte as he took the third to halve the deficit.

There was a lengthy pause in play in the early exchanges of the fourth when Elias accidentally elbowed Coll in the face, but the break in play allowed Elias to regroup as he went on to blitz Coll in the crucial fourth game and secure a final berth.

“This week has been amazing. Getting to World No.1 and now in the final of the British Open. I can’t believe it. I don’t want to think too much about it because I have the final tomorrow, but I am just happy, happy to have all my team here with me!” Elias said afterwards.

“I started as fast as I could, attacking a lot. That is why I got tired after the first couple of games and why I tried to throw a couple of balls in and see if they went in. It didn’t go my way, but then in the fourth, I tried to push as hard as I could in that game. I didn’t mean to hit Paul in the face like that. I am sorry about that, it pretty much stopped the match so I am not happy with that. I am happy with how I stayed calm, though, and happy to win the match in four.

“He is one of the fittest players on Tour, and a close friend of mine. It is always clean on court, it is always tough. It is not easy to win games, like I won the first, second and the last one. I started strong, and I am happy with that. Him winning twice here, he is such an amazing player and hopefully he can come back from this and go back to the top!

“We have played many times and Ali has beaten me a lot so hopefully we change that tomorrow. I am feeling great. It is still early so I can recover and hopefully get that title tomorrow!”

Sherbini downs Sobhy in five

[2] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-2 [5] Amanda Sobhy (Usa)  4-11, 11-5, 11-2, 9-11, 11-6 (59m)

Three-time British Open champion Nour El Sherbini overcame Amanda Sobhy 3-2 in an entertaining battle to reach the final.

Sobhy, who got the better of El Sherbini in their previous meeting at the Black Ball Squash Open, continued her excellent form from the quarter-finals, where she knocked out reigning champion Hania El Hammamy, to impressively take the lead.

The US’ No.1’s excellent play into the back corners were troubling El Sherbini in the opening game, but the Egyptian responded in the second to level the match. El Sherbini was in her groove as she comprehensively clinched the third game to go ahead for the first time, which prompted Sobhy to request a new ball going into the fourth.

The fresh ball paid dividends to Sobhy and suited her game plan as she raced into a 7-3 lead, before El Sherbini came charging back to eight-all. However Sobhy edged back in front and restored parity to send the match into a fifth game.

But it was El Sherbini’s quality which proved to be decisive in the end, booking her spot in tomorrow’s decider against Nouran Gohar.

“I’m really happy that I won this one! Amanda beat me last time in five and she is playing unbelievably amazing squash. Beating Hania 3-0 yesterday defines how good she is playing,” El Sherbini said.

“I was a bit lucky at the end to have the strokes coming my way. Sometimes it ends like this with a long match, but I was happy it was on my side.

“I’m really happy with my movement today. Maybe my shots were a bit better than the last couple of matches. The level was very high and you have to get your best squash out. I am happy that it finally came in today’s match.

“Everyone kept posting about the battle for World No.1, but to be honest I was not focussing on that. I was just focussing on myself and focussing on every match. This was my goal, I want to win this tournament, I came here to win. We have been battling for a

Fourth final in a row for Farag

[2] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-1 [7] Mazen Hesham (Egy)  11-4, 11-4, 8-11, 11-2 (42m)

Former World No.1 Ali Farag is into a fourth consecutive British Open final after defeating compatriot Mazen Hesham in a quick-fire four game battle.

Farag, who has lost in the last three British Open finals, including the last two to New Zealander Paul Coll, was aiming to make it to the finale in Birmingham for the first time. He started brilliantly, and was two games up in a flash.

Hesham was not at the races in the early stages of the contest, but he fought back valiantly in the third game. ‘The Falcon’ lost out to Farag in the semis of this event in 2022, and was trying to make sure the same would not happen again, pulling a game back to make it 2-1.

A quick start in the fourth though meant the comeback was ended before it really got going. The current World No.5 won the fourth game 11-2 to book his place in the final of the British Open once again.

“It was a tough one to navigate, especially against Mazen. We played a couple of weeks ago and he was hitting better lengths than I was and he was dominating the tee area for most of the five games,” Farag said.

“I had to get that on point today and I tried to stand in front of him because he’s one of the most skilful on tour. If you give him any easy shot, you’re going to be wiggling and you’re going to be guessing! So I tried to take that away from him, but to be fair maybe he wasn’t at his best in the first two. I’d like to think I played well but that contributed to it.

“I feel like he was maybe rushed into the match and he didn’t get as much time to warm-up as he’d like, and I think that affected him a little bit. I’m not taking anything away from myself, I think I prepared for the match really well and I executed the game plan.

“I went to bed at five in the morning and woke up at noon, so seven hours sleep isn’t too bad. I then had an hour nap at 10pm, so it’s a different schedule but I manage to do it well. As much as I would like to talk about Ramadan, I’d love to talk about this amazing venue.

“You have to pay tribute to Dr Allam for the years he hosted this event in Hull. May his soul rest in peace as he was such a great advocate for the sport along with his entire family, but we’re extremely happy to be moving to Birmingham this year in such an amazing venue in front of such a knowledgeable crowd.

“There are a thousand people or more and we appreciate you coming down and cheering us on – not the ones who were cheering for Mazen, I didn’t appreciate that! We appreciate every single clap and oohs and ahs as they what we play for, so thank you!”

Gohar storms into fourth final in a row

[1] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-0 [4] Joelle King (Nzl)  11-3, 11-9, 11-1 (33m)

World No.1 Nouran Gohar is into the British Open final for the fourth consecutive time after she produced a clinical display to defeat New Zealand’s Joelle King.

‘The Terminator’ had won the last seven meetings between the pair, with five of those wins coming in semi-finals. They did battle at the Black Ball Squash Open last month, and Gohar won in four games on that occasion.

It was much more simple this time for the Egyptian, the 2019 British Open champion. Her pace and power hitting was too much for the Kiwi in the early exchanges, and King could only muster three points in the opening game of their contest.

The second game was closer, but only after the World No.4 had fought back after losing seven of the opening eight points. King came close to scraping it, but Gohar won it 11-9, and then went on to dominate the third. She dropped just a single point in the third game, and she moves through to a fourth consecutive British Open final.

“Coming into the semi-final, I had it in the back of my mind that the PSA keep reminding me that if I lose this then I’ll lose my World No.1 spot! They’ve reminded me about four times this week!” Gohar exclaimed.

“I wanted to win anyway, even if it had nothing to do with the ranking. I wanted to get into a fifth British Open final, which is big for me. My goal is to win it and I’m just taking it a match at a time.

“All credit to Joelle – she’s played amazing squash this week and I had to be on my toes to bring something higher than an ‘A’ game and be ready for everything she was going to throw at me. She’s had her whole team here so it gives her a lot of support and in my mind I was ready for a fight.

“In two of the finals I’ve been in, I’ve lost in five 11-9 and that was heartbreaking. I have more experience of losing the final than winning one! I just want to learn and be ready, but there’s no pressure. I want to win it and I’ve won it before, but I would do anything to win a second one.

“I think Nour and Amanda are going to go for a big match tonight. Amanda is playing really well and has been playing well all season, and Sherbini, you can’t take anything away from her. She’s the most experienced player on tour right now and they’re both great players, both very tricky players. It’s going to be a hard match against either of them but I’ll be ready for it.”


First up is top seed Nouran Gohar, aiming to reach her fourth successive BO final against Kiwi Joelle King, who has been a regular in the quarter-finals and also made the semis last year. The H2H favours Gohar 10-4 where the Egyptian has won each of the last seven encounters – five of those being in major semi-finals.

Next up is an all-Egyptian clash between two players fasting for Ramadan, Ali Farag and Mazen Hesham. Farag has been runner-up in each of the last three editions so is aiming to reach a fourth successive final, while this is Hesham’s second BO semi-final in a row. The H2H is massively in Farag’s favour at 12-2, but Hesham was the victor in last month’s Optasia Championship semi.

Three-time champion Nour El Sherbini faces USA’s Amanda Sobhy in the second women’s semi. Perhaps ominously for Sobhy, Sherbini’s triumphs have come at two year intervals in 2016, 2018 and 2021 (no event in 2020), but this is the American’s third successive BO semi-final and she will be more than eager to reach a first final. Sherbini leads the H2H 11-5 but it was Sobhy who prevailed in their last meeting, at the Black Ball Open.

Last up is two-time defending champion Paul Coll against World #1 elect Diego Elias. Both are appearing in their seventh British Opens in a row, but the Kiwi has performed consistently better at this event with Elias appearing in his first BO semi-final today. They can’t be split on the H2H which stands at 5-all, but Coll triumphed in both previous British Open clashes, the 2021 and 2022 quarter-finals.

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