Day SEVEN : Semi-Finals Saturday at The Rep

Day Seven of the British Open in Birmingham, and it’s Semi-Final Saturday at The Rep Theatre.

It’s All-Egyptian British Open Finals in Birmingham

Top seeds and defending champions Nour ElSherbini and Ali Farag will face fellow Egyptians Nouran Gohar and Mostafa Asal in the finals after Gohar and Asal upset second seeds Hania El Hammamy and Paul Coll.

You can Watch Live on SquashTV and partner broadcasters worldwide, follow on Live Scoring and our Social Feeds, and we’ll have Photos in the Gallery and Reports and Reaction right here.

British Open 2024 : Sat 8th Jun, Day SEVEN, SEMI-FINALS

Women’s Semi-Finals :
[1] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-1 [5] Nour El Tayeb (Egy)   11-9, 11-5, 10-12, 11-4 (47m)
[3] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-1 [2] Hania El Hammamy (Egy)   11-13, 11-4, 11-3, 11-8 (64m)

Men’s Semi-Finals : 
[1] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Joel Makin (Wal)   11-3, 11-9, 11-7 (54m)
[4] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-2 [2] Paul Coll (Nzl)   7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-7, 11-6 (67m)


Reports and Reaction

Asal downs Coll to set up all-Egyptian finals

[4] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-2 [2] Paul Coll (Nzl) 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-7, 11-6 (67m)

Egypt’s World No.4 Mostafa Asal has reached the final of the British Open for the first time after coming from behind to beat two-time champion Paul Coll in the last match of the afternoon at Birmingham Rep Theatre.

Asal overcame Coll in five games at this stage of the PSA World Championships last month, taking a 2-0 lead on that occasion. This time around, Coll was immaculate in the opening stages, controlling the tempo and hitting his targets at the front of the court to go a game ahead.

The second game initially looked to be going the same way as Coll took a 4-1 lead, but Asal hit some quick winners to come back into the fixture and was able to knock Coll off his rhythm to draw level.

Coll recovered brilliantly though after losing that second and pushed on to restore his lead as Asal appeared to tire, with the Egyptian looking to go short and avoid playing long rallies with his opponent.

Asal made a dream start in the fourth as he took the first four points on offer. A flurry of errors initially opened the door for Coll, but after eradicating those misses Asal pulled away to level the scores at two games apiece.

Coll’s accuracy completely deserted him in the fifth game as he gave away a series of strokes, and ‘The Raging Bull’ powered ahead to win 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-7, 11-6.

Up next for Asal is a clash with World No.1 Ali Farag, which will decide the destination of the men’s trophy.

“It’s a nightmare to play Paul but we have had some tough battles over the past four or five years and he’s an unbelievable athlete,” said Asal.

“He picks up every single ball and I have to hit five crosscourt nicks to win a rally. All credit to him and I can’t believe I won this match.

“He was unbelievable in the first game and you start thinking about other things that aren’t on the court. Jimbo [James Willstrop, Asal’s coach] said to give it one more push, and I fought until the end. It’s a big stage and it’s my second semi-final here at the British Open.

“It’s great to be here and to be in the final of the British Open. I’m still young, I’m only 23 years old, and I’ve grown up watching these legends. Me and my father were watching Jimbo and Ramy in the final when Dr Allam held the event, so thank you to him for holding the tournament in Hull all those years.

“I’m really looking forward to it, and hopefully the crowd are going to be on my side tomorrow. There is one more push.”

Gohar powers through to dash Hammamy hopes

[3] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-1 [2] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 11-13, 11-4, 11-3, 11-8 (64m)

World Champion Nouran Gohar has reached the final of the British Open for a fifth time in a row after she came back from a game down to defeat arch-rival Hania El Hammamy at Birmingham Rep Theatre.

It was the 24th time the pair were meeting on the PSA Tour – with Gohar winning 15 of those matches – and it was ‘The Terminator’ who emerged victorious in front of a packed house at The Rep as she won 11-13, 11-4, 11-3, 11-8.

Gohar led for much of the opening stages, but once El Hammamy had settled it was the younger Egyptian who had the better of the first game, hitting her corners more often to go 1-0 up.

Gohar was left frustrated after a mammoth game ball rally, claiming her shot – which hit the tin – had been affected after contact with her racket and El Hammamy. Her complaints fell on deaf ears as a no let was given and El Hammamy walked off court with a one-game lead.

El Hammamy dropped off physically though in the second game and Gohar moved into the ascendancy, pulling away from 4-4 to rattle off seven points in a row.

World No.2 Gohar was playing at an incredibly fast pace and hitting hard, accurate lines to take El Hammamy away from the centre of the court, and the third game soon followed as she took the lead for the first time.

Gohar won four of the first five points on offer in the fourth game, and while El Hammamy came back into the match, Gohar pushed ahead to hold three match balls. A loose lob from El Hammamy then saw a stroke awarded to Gohar, sending her through to the British Open final for the sixth time.

She will take on World No.1 Nour El Sherbini in the title decider for the second time in a row and a fourth time in total, with El Sherbini winning all of their previous final bouts.

Gohar did, however, beat her compatriot in the final of the PSA World Championships last month.

“It’s because of Nour and Hania that we keep improving the level of squash,” said Gohar.

“They are such fierce competitors and they always want to improve. It’s because of them that I am the player I am today, and we’re pushing each other to the limits. Sometimes it goes beyond the limit, but I don’t think it’s anything personal, it’s more we have the hunger and the will to win, and we kill ourselves to reach the ball every single time.

“It was a very enjoyable match today, it was very clean and the ref did a great job today as well. I’m happy with the way I dealt with it today, especially after losing the first game. I didn’t play badly, she was just very eager to win it, and it was crucial for me to come back stronger in the second game.

“I’ve learnt from players like Laura [Massaro] and Joelle [King] and I’ve been on tour for 14 years now, which is a bit crazy. I’ve always been the youngest, but now I’m one of the oldest, and I try to use these experiences.

“It would mean the world to win another British Open. It’s crazy to think that Sherbini and I played the final when she was 20 and I was 18, that was eight years ago! No words can describe how great of a player she is and just having these matches with her is incredible.”

Farag ends home hope to reach fifth successive final

[1] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Joel Makin (Wal) 11-3, 11-9, 11-7 (54m)

World No.1 Ali Farag delivered a masterful performance to end the giant-killing run of Joel Makin at the British Open and advance to the title decider in straight games.

Birmingham-based Makin had already made history this week at The Rep Theatre, becoming the first Welshman to reach the semi-finals of the prestigious event since David Evans 24 years ago, but he couldn’t replicate these heroics against an in-form Farag, who claimed the win by an 11-3, 11-9, 11-7 scoreline.

Defending champion Farag started the match in exquisite touch, elongating a number of rallies beyond the 90-second mark, with Makin being forced to do the majority of the work across the back two corners. From 2-2, Farag went on to win nine of the next ten points to move one game up.

Makin, who was a little too passive in the first game, came out firing after the game-break, pushing high up on the ’T’ and moving into a 6-0 lead with a string of aggressive points. However, as has become custom in recent years, Farag responded in emphatic style, weaving his web on the ’T’ line and sapping the energy from his opponent to draw parity at 7-7. Makin would go on to save one game ball, but Farag held strong to double his advantage after a 20-minute second game.

The match continued in a similar fashion early in the third, with Makin managing to move the scoreline to 4-4 without ever truly troubling the top seed, who absorbed pressure incredibly well throughout the semi-final clash. Farag advanced to 10-6 up, and at the second time of asking, sealed victory when Makin clipped a drop shot into the tin.

“Joel has been in immaculate form recently, and deservedly so,” Farag said after the match. “He has been in and out with injuries, and he has shown what a competitor he is when he is fully fit. Even at some points today when I felt like I was dominating the ’T’, he kept coming back. But for me, I had to hit my targets well, and try to twist him and turn him as much as possible.

“He’s not as patient as he used to be, he’s more aggressive, he takes his opportunities, and I had to try and take this away from him. I think I did that well today, so I’m very pleased.

“I have very good memories here, the atmosphere is probably the best show in our sport, so thank you all. Even though I was playing against the favourite British player here, I think the crowd was very appreciative of every shot and every rally, and that was really enjoyable.”

Sherbini downs Tayeb to reach sixth BO final

[1] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-1 [5] Nour El Tayeb (Egy) 11-9, 11-5, 10-12, 11-4 (47m)

World No.1 Nour El Sherbini moved a step closer to her fifth title at the British Open after seeing off the threat of Egyptian compatriot Nour El Tayeb in four games to advance to the final.

El Sherbini had won 19 of the pair’s 25 matches on the PSA World Tour prior to today, and she extended this run in impressive style, recording an 11-9, 11-5, 10-12, 11-4 victory in 47 minutes of action.

Despite the close-looking scoreline of the opening game, El Sherbini dominated the exchanges for large periods, taking the middle of the court away from El Tayeb and forcing her onto the back foot. No.5 seed El Tayeb rallied from 9-5 to 9-8 down, but El Sherbini kept her cool to move a game up after nine minutes.

‘The Warrior Princess’ continued to attack with pin-point precision in the second game, recording 16 winners to El Tayeb’s eight by the time she had doubled her advantage and moved within a game of the title decider.

El Tayeb refused to go down without a fight though, moving into a 7-5 lead in the third game with some patient squash into the back two corners and later saving a match ball at 10-9 down. An uncharacteristic error into the tin from the top seed at 10-10 gifted El Tayeb her first game ball of the match, and the Egyptian didn’t need asking twice, taking the encounter to a fourth game to the delight of the packed house within The Rep Theatre.

A number of brutal, physical rallies followed early in the fourth, with El Tayeb sticking with the World No.1 in the early phases of the game. However, it was El Sherbini who managed to regain her composure and find her targets at the back of the court as the game progressed, advancing to her sixth final at the British Open in just under 50 minutes of action.

After the match, El Sherbini said: “It was very hard because we are very close friends and we have been together since we were ten years old. What she is doing is unbelievable after giving birth and making it at the top level. She has been pushing nearly everyone, and it is really good to see her in the semi-finals. It is hard to put the friendship aside, but once we get on court, everyone wants to win. That’s our game and that’s our sport.

“I just wanted to get back to my game plan [after the third game], get back to my targets again. She’s a fighter, she gets everything back and she keeps running everywhere. I just tried to be focused again and be focused on what I should do. I have lost a game almost in every game this week, so I just tried to start again as though it was the first game and try to win every point.

“It never gets old [reaching a final], and you always feel the nerves, but I just try to put the nerves aside and focus on my squash.”

Today’s semi-finalists mini-gallery