Day THREE – over to the Rep

After two busy opening days at Edgbaston Priory, the British Open moved to Birmingham’s Rep theatre today, with eight Round Three matches from the top half of the draws.

There was just one seeding upset as Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad continued his Optasia Championship winning form, beating fourth seed Mohamed ElShorbagy in five games – in the process ensuring that Peru’s Diego Elias will become World Number One on Monday.

Read on for results, reports and reaction …

British Open 2023 : Day THREE, Round THREE (top)

[1] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Nele Gilis (Bel)  11-8, 11-5, 11-8 (38m)
[6] Rowan Elaraby
(Egy) 3-1 Tomato Ho (Hkg)  11-6, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6 (45m)

[7] Sarah-Jane Perry (
Eng) 3-1 Nada Abbas (Egy)  11-7, 10-12, 11-3, 11-9 (37m)
[4] Joelle King (Nzl) 3-0 [9/16] Olivia Fiechter (Usa)  11-7, 11-5, 11-5 (32m)

[7] Mazen Hesham (Egy) 3-1 Baptiste Masotti (Fra)  11-8, 5-11, 11-4, 11-3 (44m)
[9/16] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 3-2 [4] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng) 7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9 (76m)

[6] Tarek Momen (Egy) 3-0 Iker Pajares (Esp)  11-7, 11-6, 11-3 (29m)
[2] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-1 Mohamed ElSherbini (Egy)  11-4, 8-11, 12-10, 11-4 (46m)


Reports & Reaction

Momen breezes past Pajares

[6] Tarek Momen (Egy) 3-0 Iker Pajares (Esp)  11-7, 11-6, 11-3 (29m)

Tarek Momen produced an accomplished performance to book his place in the quarter-finals in the last match of day three. Momen saw off Iker Pajares Bernabeu in straight games, with the Egyptian cranking up the pace in the opening game which he took 11-7.

A fresh ball was required midway through the second which halted proceedings for a short while, but it didn’t deter a determined Momen to double his lead after taking the second 11-6.

And the World No.7 wrapped the match with a comprehensive performance in the third, setting up a quarter-final clash with his compatriot Ali Farag on Thursday.

“I’m very happy to get through in three games. Ramadan is a tricky customer and I’ve never played a tournament during Ramadan,” said Momen.

“I made a conscious decision not to play during Ramadan. If I have any niggles that’s the time to take care of them and heal the body instead of playing because the conditions when you are playing dehydrated is not ideal and you might get injured.

“Tough times call for drastic measures – I’m fighting for my place in the rankings and I had to make the decision to play. Today I was lucky with the match time as it was past sunset so I could grab a few things and a protein shake before I went on court.

“Yesterday I played on court at 1pm and it was a bit tricky. Overall I’ve been feeling okay on court and it was a first time experience for me. I used to train but only had light sessions, but I’m happy with the way it’s going so far.

“I’m playing Ali next match who is also doing it this time. It’s going to be an even contest for us so that will be okay!”

SJ comes through tricky encounter

[7] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 3-1 Nada Abbas (Egy)  11-7, 10-12, 11-3, 11-9 (37m)

Home favourite Sarah-Jane Perry is into the last eight after seeing off Nada Abbas in four games.

Perry, backed by her home crowd in Birmingham, claimed the first game 11-7 after a slow start from both players before Abbas levelled the match with a 12-10 victory in the second which went to a tiebreak.

World No.8 Perry found her groove again in the third with a dominant performance, before securing a quarter-final berth in the fourth as the experience showed against Abbas – an opponent the Englishwoman has never lost to.

“Nada is a fighter. I was nice and calm before the match, but when I was walking down the steps I got a pang of, ‘how awesome is this’ and seeing so many people that I know and that got me for a second. I had a really good start so that helped me settle a little bit,” Perry said afterwards.

“When I first heard the Commonwealth games were going to be in Birmingham I had a big pang of pride that my home city was going to host an event and then to continue the legacy of that to host the British Open for the first time in 22 years. I didn’t come to watch that and don’t have any memories of that, but I’m definitely old enough to have been around then!

“There’s been a buzz around the area and that’s amazing, especially that we’re going to be here a couple more years is amazing.

“I want to say thank you to PSA for putting their faith in Birmingham but to also the other people who made it possible, as well as some of my personal sponsors for making it happen. I’m just super proud to be here.”

Farag wins all-Egyptian matchup

[2] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-1 Mohamed ElSherbini (Egy)  11-4, 8-11, 12-10, 11-4 (46m)

Second seed Ali Farag defeated his Egyptian compatriot Mohamed ElSherbini 3-1 to progress to the quarter-finals.

Farag, who was runner-up in last year’s event, took the first 11-4 before ElSherbini delivered a much-improved performance in the second to level the match.

ElSherbini, who had lost both of his previous meetings with Farag prior to today’s encounter, saved both of Farag’s game balls in the third to send it into a tiebreak where the former World No.1 eventually came out on top to regain his advantage.

A new ball was requested at the end of the third by Farag, and it came to his advantage as he prevailed 11-4 to reach the next round.

“It was tough. The first game was really tough and Nour (El Tayeb) was saying yesterday my body language at the beginning of matches ever since I came back is not the best, so that was my main focus,” said Farag.

“After that I got a bit too relaxed and I was running away with it A silly knick with the boast got him back into it.

“We’ve been playing each other since we were nine and I’ve lost to him many times and he’s a very smart player on tour. From a very young age he’s been tactically astute and streetwise. It gets you nervy so I’m glad I held my nerves.”

Gohar eases into last eight

[1] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Nele Gilis (Bel)  11-8, 11-5, 11-8 (38m)

Top seed Nouran Gohar was in confident mood as she dominated for large parts, taking the first 11-8, and stepped up to the plate when Gilis battled back midway through the second to make it a two-game lead when she clinched the game 11-5.

The Egyptian had seven match balls in the third, but Gilis saved five of them to make it a nervy finish. However Gohar was able to eventually convert match ball to progress to the quarter-finals without dropping a game so far this tournament.

“The British Open is a big target for the season. It’s at the top of the list and it’s so important to be ready because everyone wants to win it and add their name to the title,” said Gohar.

“I managed to do that in 2019 but I want to add it many more times. I’m not thinking about it, I’m just taking it match by match. Every single match I’m playing I want to win and we’ll see the results.

“Having a lead helps, but playing someone like Nele you can’t lose concertation in the middle. No one really has anything to lose playing against me – I feel like they want to spend as much time on court as possible and they make my life a little bit difficult!

“All respect to her – she didn’t give up at the end and it was enjoyable out there today.”

Gawad downs ElShorbagy in five game thriller

[9/16] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 3-2 [4] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng) 7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9 (76m)

Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad knocked out English No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy in a cracking five-game battle, to reach the quarter finals, and to guarantee that Peru’s Diego Elias will be the World No.1 on Monday morning.

Gawad had lost to the Englishman in their previous seven meetings, but it had been a lot closer between the two at the Black Ball Open last month, where ElShorbagy had won in five. The ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’ also won the Optasia Championships last month, and was coming into this event in real form.

That continued into this contest, despite him losing the opening game. He fought back to win both the second and third, with his trademark backhand drop being at its best.

ElShorbagy was able to fight back to win the fourth game and to send the match into a decider, which then was level at 8-8. It could have been either man that took the victory, but Gawad clinched it after 76 minutes of high-quality action, to book his quarter final spot, and to end ElShorbagy’s hopes of becoming World No.1 this week.

“It’s always a tough battle between both of us, ever since we were eight years old. We used to play in the same club in Alexandria. Playing him in the round of 16 is a tough draw for me, and a tough draw for him!” Gawad said.

“Last time we played at Black Ball, I was pretty close to the win but I couldn’t close it out. This time, I had learned a lot, watched that match back a couple of time, believed in myself again. I tried to play my best squash, he played really well, but some games he killed me in the rallies. I couldn’t find any balance, but luckily I found a way in the fifth.

“Thank you for reminding he had won the last seven times! That’s so bad! I am enjoying every moment on court now, I found my game again, moving well again after two years. I am just enjoying it, and I just keep saying the same to my coaches. I am not thinking about results, winning or losing, I am just enjoying every moment, play my best squash and to give it my all on court!”

Dominant King through to the quarters

[4] Joelle King (Nzl) 3-0 [9/16] Olivia Fiechter (Usa)  11-7, 11-5, 11-5 (32m)

New Zealand’s Joelle King booked her place in the quarter finals with a confident performance to dispatch American Olivia Fiechter.

King had lost to the World No.7 on their last two appearances on the PSA World Tour, but the Kiwi was in great form throughout the contest, to win in just over half an hour.

The first game was tight throughout, but King was able to run away at the end to take it 11-7, and from there, she did not allow FIechter to gain any momentum. 11-5 was the scoreline in both the second and third games, as the New Zealander book he’d spot in the last eight, where she will play Rowan Elaraby.

“Every time I go to the theatre I am normally on that side! It is just an amazing feeling to come out on the third day of a tournament and to see such an amazing crowd, so thank you guys for coming out and supporting everyone!” King said after her victory.

“On paper, that was a tough round three match! She has beaten me the last couple of times so I was pretty up for this match! I am pleased with how I played, she is a tough opponent, World No.7 and well deserved, and I just want to keep going in the event.

“It’s a common thing that most players, we are the finished product out on court. But my whole team is here, the family as well! All of their work that goes into me, it allows me to come out and perform! Obviously having all of them here is great, and Laura [Massaro] has been there and done it before. She is a champion, and when you have someone in your corner like that, it always helps in those moments.”

Hesham Downs Masotti To Make Quarter Finals

[7] Mazen Hesham (Egy) 3-1 Baptiste Masotti (Fra)  11-8, 5-11, 11-4, 11-3 (44m)

Egypt’s Mazen Hesham overcame Frenchman Baptiste Masotti in a fast-paced battle to reach the last eight.

Masotti came into this tournament in good form, and in his highest world ranking to date. After wins against James Willstrop and Gregoire Marche, he would have been full of confidence, but Hesham did his best to quash that from the off.

The Egyptian won the opening exchanges, but Masotti showed the fighting spirit that had seen him reach the semi-finals of the Optasia Championships, as he battled to win the second game and level the contest at one game apiece.

From there, though, Hesham showed why he was a top ten player, dropping just seven points across the next two games, to move through to the last eight of the competition.

“It was tough, very tough! I did the job right, Baptiste has been playing well in the last stage of the season so I had to be careful from the start,” Hesham said.

‘In the second game, he held his nerve better than me. I hit like seven tins in 11 points, so I had to be patient and I think it paid off in the end, so I am pretty pleased, pretty happy.

“Of course it feels different playing in a venue like this! As a player and as a professional, you have to focus on just the squash, but now I am focussing on the venue itself. It is really cool! Everyone seems to like the venue and it is going to be a good one this week!”

Elaraby first into the quarters

[6] Rowan Elaraby (Egy) 3-1 Tomato Ho (Hkg)  11-6, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6 (45m)

Egypt’s Rowan Elaraby took on Hong Kong’s Tomato Ho in the opening match of the day’s play at The Rep, as the sport’s newest venue made its debut on Tour.

Elaraby, the World No.9, was a quarter finalist in 2021, and although she was not at her best, the Egyptian was able to fight past the World No.32 to book her place in the last eight once more.

After winning the first game, ‘Tinkerbell’ then had the opportunity to move through and win the second as well, as the pair were level at 7-7. However, a slew of errors from her racket allowed Ho to level the contest at one game apiece.

The exact opposite occurred in the third game, with the Hongkonger hitting errors from the same part of the game, at 7-7. That allowed Elaraby to take a 2-1 lead, and she carried that momentum into the fourth, as she claimed the opening victory of the day.

Elaraby will now face either American Olivia Fiechter or New Zealand’s Joelle King in Thursday’s quarter finals, with the pair set to face off against each other later on today.

“First of all, the venue is insane! Playing in front of all these people… That’s what makes our sport perfect! I am really happy to be competing in this amazing venue,” Elaraby said.

“I am not really happy with my performance. I didn’t get to try the court before I played, so I wasn’t really finding my length or my shots. I can’t be complaining, though, I am quite happy I am through, and looking forward to another match in this venue.

“It is always great to practice before the match, try out the court, and find my length. With today’s match, and with another practice, I will be ready for the quarter finals.

“Olivia and Joelle are both great players. I hope they play a great match, but I have played both before. Either of them, I will try to put a good gameplan together and see how it goes!”