TODAY : QUARTER-FINALS

The remaining sixteen players were in action for today’s Quarter-Finals at the Airco Arena.

The mix included five British Open champions, six Egyptians, four Brits in the women’s quarters, one qualifier and some intriguing head to head records.

The headline win was for German qualifier Raphael Kandra over Marwan Elshorbagy, but there’ was a lot more to it than that – read on for the details …

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QUARTER-FINALS

[1] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-2 [9] Alison Waters (Eng)              6-11, 11-4, 11-13, 11-7, 11-5 (58m)
[7] Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-0 [3] Nour El Tayeb (Egy)                                       11-9, 11-9, 11-6 (31m)
[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Egy) 3-1 Paul Coll (Nzl)                              11-6, 6-11, 12-10, 11-7 (72m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-0 [6] Simon Rosner (Ger)                                   11-7, 11-6, 11-5 (35m)

[6] Camille Serme (Fra) 3-2 [11] Tesni Evans (Wal)                   16-14, 7-11, 7-11, 11-9 , 11-6 (72m)
[2] Raneem El Welily (Egy) 3-1 [8] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng)                    11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 11-4 (38m)
[Q] Raphael Kandra (Ger) 3-2 [4] Marwan ElShorbagy (Egy)  11-7, 11-13, 6-11, 13-11, 11-6 (72m)
Miguel Rodriguez (Col) 3-1 [2] Ali Farag (Egy)                                         11-8, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6 (68m)

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Miguel takes out second seed Farag

The day finished with a second big men’s upset in a row as unseeded Colombian Miguel Rodriguez put in a determined performance to oust second seed Ali Farag in four games – guaranteeing an unseeded men’s finalist!

Rodriguez was determination personified, and Farag was simply unable to contain his opponent for any prolonged spells.

“I knew I had to win today,” said Rodriguez, whose win earned him a place in the World Series finals. “I have played him many times and have lost 3-2 or 3-1 in tough battles and not playing good, but I knew this was going to be my time to beat him. I did everything and I’m happy with my performance.”

Rafa qualifies for the semis

The British Open witnessed its biggest upset so far as Raphael Kandra overcame fourth seed Marwan Elshorbagy in a five game thriller that saw the German – who beat Nick Matthew yesterday – become the first qualifier to teach the men’s semis since 2001.

It was a thrilling match – never much in it, but huge effort from both players and a crowd that began to get behind the German, and in the end cheering him on to the rafters.

Marwan simply wasn’t able to impose himself on the match or his opponent as he has done so often recently, often hitting the ball straight back at Rafa, but when the German was forced to run, boy he ran.

Kandra took the lead, Marwan saved game ball to take the second, and when he took the third 11-6 it looked like Rafa’s run was over.

Not a bit of it though, he dug in to take the fourth in extra points, and with Marwan seemingly running out of ideas and regularly hitting the tin, took the fifth with some comfort … and the crowd erupted.

“I definitely enjoyed the crowd,” said Rafa. “It was a spectacular match, it’s hard to say but for me it probably wasn’t the best of Marwan’s squash today, but you need those days. I was just trying to enjoy my squash out there and the support of the crowd was amazing.

“I’m fighting through, whoever comes, I don’t mind! Whoever it is, if it’s Gregory Gaultier, Ali Farag or Mohamed ElShorbagy – I don’t mind! These guys are just so impressive at the moment and they play so well.”

No surprises for Raneem today

Having survived by the skin of her teeth yesterday, World Champion Raneem El Welily started her match against Sarah-Jane Perry looking determined not to let it happen again. Perry, last year’s runner-up, helped the Egyptian’s cause with a few errors, but Welily didn’t really need those.

The Englishwoman perked up in the second to level the match, but Welily was back in charge for the next two games as she went through to a semi-final meeting with Camille Serme.

“SJ is very strong, has amazing racket skill and mentally she is strong and can get to you on court. I’m pleased to get through in four. I’m really happy to still be in the tournament, I was almost out of the tournament yesterday, so I was pleased to come back today and to fight again and be playing again tomorrow.

“They are always great battles against Camille and she had an amazing match today against Tesni – what a great match that was – and I’m really looking forward to another battle.”

Camille stops Tesni in a thriller

Camille Serme had never lost to Tesni Evans in 13 attempts, but the Welsh dragon came close in the Euro Teams just over a week ago, and came just as close today – but once again it wasn’t to be for Tesni.

Evans built up a good lead in the first, 8-3, but almost lost it as Serme clawed her way back. The Frenchwoman did take the second, but it was Evans again in the third.

Serme led, but never by much, in the fourth as she set up a decider, which she maintained control of to reach her xth British Open semifinal.

“Tesni has had an amazing season,” said Camille. “I’m sure she is going to make it to the top ten very soon. It was a big battle today and I was enjoying it while we were both working really hard.”


Masterclass from Greg

Gregory Gaultier turned in a masterful performance as he eased past Simon Rosner in three game in just over half an hour. Gaultier was on top from the outset, moving superbly and finding winners with ease.

At 2-9 in the third Rosner raised his arms in triumph after winning a point, but the end was only briefly delayed and the Frenchman treated the crowd to some rhythmical celebrations …

“Last time we played he beat me in New York and went onto win the tournament,” said Greg, “and I was happy for him that he went all the way and that he didn’t beat me and then lose in the final.

“Today, I wanted to turn things around and show that I can still play some good squash and I was ready for the match and maybe we both would have struggled with the long match that had been played before. The warm-up was really up and down and then I was happy to perform from the word go.”

Shorbagy through in four

Top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy didn’t have to come from two games behind today, as he did in his precious two matches, but he was certainly made to work hard for his four game win over Kiwi Paul Coll.

Looking determined to start better, Shorbagy took the opening game, but Coll fought back to level, then pushed the world number one to the limit in a point for point third game.

Once the Egyptian had regained the lead, he carried that momentum into the fourth, pulling away as Coll’s challenge faded.

“This is the tournament with the most history in the sport, and I already have my name on the trophy twice, but I would love to get my name on there a few more times,” said Mohamed.

“I’m in the semis now and this is what I train for and what I live for.

“I had a shaky start to the tournament but I’m feeling fine and I feel physically fit for the tournament now and I’m just really happy to be in the semis.”

Massaro won’t let the title go

Defending champion Laura Massaro is still on course for a third British Open title after a sterling performance from the Englishwoman, despatching world #3 Nour El Tayeb in straight games, put her into the semis.

Massaro led 7-1 and 10-5 in the first, but Tayeb fought back before Massaro took the lead 11-9. The Egyptian led early in the second but this time Massaro fought back, and made it count as she doubled the lead.

A good start from Massaro in the third and there was to be no comeback this time as she powered through to a match against Sherbini.

“At 7-3 down in the second I just thought ‘why have you gone away again?’,” said Laura.

“It seems to be the theme of my season to get in a position to win or at least go up and go soft and that’s all mental, but I was so up for today.

“I’ve done nothing but think about this match since I won the other day and I’ve had my eye on it since the draw came out, without being disrespectful to my two first round opponents because you can’t take it for granted.”

Sherbini through in five

Top seed Nour El Sherbini was given a real test by Alison Waters, one of four Brits in the women’s last eight. Waters took the lead, with Sherbini making a few costly errors which she corrected in the second to equalise.

The Egyptian led the third 10-7, but Waters levelled, hit the tin at 11-10 but made amends by retaking the lead 13-11.

Sherbini always had the lead in the last two games, but never by a big enough margin to be comfortable.

“I don’t know what was happening in the third,” said Sherbini.  “She came back strongly and was playing so well but I was glad I had my coach with me and he told me to keep going.

“I’m glad I came back in the fourth and fifth and played well.”