The quarter finals of the British Open got underway at The Rep Theatre in Birmingham on Thursday evening, and New Zealand’s World No.4 Joelle King came from behind to defeat Egypt’s World No.9 Rowan Elaraby to make the last four of the PSA World Tour Platinum level competition.
The pair were meeting for only the third time on Tour, but the Kiwi had never taken victory over the young Egyptian. She then fell behind after the first game, despite King having a game ball in the tie-break. The World No.9 fought through the tie-break to win it 13-11 to hold the first lead of the match.
The New Zealander, who sits a place below her best ranking of World No.3, battled back brilliantly in the second game, as she restricted the opportunities for her opponent. However, she would find herself behind once more, as a better length from Elaraby saw the Egyptian take the third game and move into the lead for a second time.
A quick start in the fourth saw King run away into a huge lead, and it was one she wound not relinquish, as she pushed the contest into a decider. The fifth went almost the same way as the fourth did. The New Zealander was able to carry the momentum, and she eventually got over the line to take the victory to reach the last four of the British Open.
“I mean, I was really nervous coming into today. I think the older you get, the more you think about how many times you will play big events like this,” King said.
“I was really excited to come out here, probably too excited. Rowan has beaten me the last couple of times, she is an extremely talented player and I had to pull out all my tricks to get away with that in the fifth.
“Having the right people around you! My team know me and it was about getting the balance right. I was probably over stimulated a little bit, I know I am a Kiwi but I live down the road in Bristol. I could hear a few people cheering for me! It all plays a part, you know! Every time I step on court, I want to play as well as I can. Sometimes you can’t do that, but you have to find a way to win.”
King will now face World No.1 Nouran Gohar in the semi-finals after the Egyptian defeated England’s Sarah-Jane Perry. The Englishwoman was playing on home soil, but Gohar was in fine fettle to take a straight games victory.
In the men’s event, four Egyptians did battle for the two available semi-final spots on Thursday evening. Mazen Hesham made it through to the last four of the British Open for the second year in succession, as he got the better of the in-form Karim Abdel Gawad in a high-octane affair.
Gawad, who won the Optasia Championships just a few weeks ago, started strongly, and won the opening game 11-6. ‘The Falcon’ fought back to win the second game, before then scraping through a third game tie-break 14-12 to keep the momentum in his favour.
Hesham then started the fourth game strongly, and took an early lead that he did not relinquish. He ran out a comfortable winner to book his semi-final place where he will take on Ali Farag. The pair met in last year’s semi-finals in Hull, and Hesham will be wanting to take revenge on the former World No.1
“First of all, a big shout out to Karim [Abdel Gawad] for this performance. He’s my favourite player on Tour and I think the Tour is missing players like him and guys with his skill and talent and class,”
“I feel like it was an exhibition match as we were both enjoying it, and enjoying the shots we were playing. The first thing he said to me was go for this tournament – he’s such a nice guy and a great friend. We compete in good spirit and I’m really happy. Since he got back he lost one match against ElShorbagy in a tie-break. He’s beaten Diego and I’m just really happy to push these guys and beat them.
“Ali is like an octopus: he has eight hands and nine legs! But I’ll enjoy it and he’s such a fair player. We give it a go every time we play and I’ll try recover as much as I can and try be ready for him.”
Two World Champions battled it out on the other men’s quarter final on Thursday evening. Ali Farag and Tarek Momen, both observing Ramadan, played a high-quality match, with the former World No.1 coming through in four games to move through to the last four of the competition.
The bottom half of the quarter finals will take place on Friday, April 14, with play beginning at 17:30 (GMT+1). All the action from The Rep Theatre in Birmingham will be streamed live on SQUASHTV.
Men’s Quarter Finals (Top Half):
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8 (57m)
 Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-1: 6-11, 11-9, 14-12, 11-6 (63m)
Bottom Half: To Be Played Friday, April 14
 Paul Coll (NZL) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Victor Crouin (FRA) v  Diego Elias (PER)
Women’s Quarter Finals (Top Half):
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-4, 11-6 (34m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt  Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 3-2: 11-13, 11-5, 10-12, 11-4, 11-5 (68m)
Bottom Half: To Be Played Friday, April 14
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
 Georgina Kennedy (ENG) v  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)