TODAY : SEMI-FINALS

Semi-Finals day at the Airco Arena saw both reigning champions dethroned, three familiar Egyptian winners and a first World Series final booked.

Nour El Sherbini came through a five-game battle to beat Laura Massaro, setting up an all-Egyptian final against Raneem El Welily, who beat Camille Serme in four games.

Mohamed ElShorbagy beat Gregory Gaultier in five brutal games and Miguel Rodriguez made the final after a four game win over qualifier Raphael Kandra.

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SEMI-FINALS

WOMEN’S SEMIS
[1] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-2 [7] Laura Massaro (Eng)        11-13, 11-4, 11-13, 11-7, 11-5 (70m)
[2] Raneem El Welily (Egy) 3-1 [6] Camille Serme (Fra)                    11-7, 4-11, 12-10, 11-6 (43m)

MEN’S SEMIS
[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Egy) 3-2 [3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)  8-11, 11-6, 11-6, 3-11, 11-5 (71m)
Miguel Rodriguez (Col) 3-1 [Q] Raphael Kandra (Ger)                          11-5, 5-11, 11-4, 11-3 (44m)

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Rodriguez through to first World Series Final

The last semi-final pitched together two unseeded players, both aiming to reach their first World Series final. Miguel Rodriguez had been close – this was his second BO semi – but it was uncharted territory for German qualifier Raphael Kandra.

It was the Colombian on top at the start, taking the first 11-5, but Kandra struck back to level with the same score. Rodriguez resumed control in the third and fourth though, Kandra seemingly accepting his fate as Rodriguez piled up the points in the fourth.

“I think we both didn’t have anything to lose,” said Rodriguez. “I had a little bit of pressure, this is a World Series semi-final, so it’s difficult the emotions you feel on court while you are playing. The first two games were edgy but then I was moving much better and I felt good physically, my shots were deeper, and I think that was the key. I was patient and that helped.

“It’s huge to be in the final, this is one of my dreams when I was a kid and I talked to myself at the beginning of the year that I wanted to reach a final and I have and I’m very proud. I’m feeling fitter than ever and stronger than two years ago so I’m ready to fight.”

Shorbagy dethrones Gaultier in brutal battle

Top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy won the first men’s semi-final, coming out on the right side of a brutal encounter with defending champion Gregory Gaultier in a match that spent the energies of both players and of the large, involved, Hull crowd.

The Egyptian started well, leading 7-2, but Gaultier regained the imperious form and manner that he had shown throughout the tournament to take the lead 11-8, egging on the crowd, who lapped it up.

But ElShorbagy buckled down in the second, determined to make every rally hard and make Gaultier work his socks off – which he did. The second went to the Egyptian, and the third too, with Gaultier looking a spent and at times dejected force.

Somehow though, the Frenchman summoned up the energy and the shots to take the fourth with ease. The revival was shortlived as ElShorbagy dominated the fifth, and at the end of the match the players hugged, and the crowd celebrated them both.

“The first thing I told him after that match was that I absolutely missed him throughout the whole season,” said ElShorbagy.

“There are players that can beat you on the day, great players, but there are players who have the consistency to keep it going the whole season, I miss playing against someone who does that, because he has been injured most of the year, but we are the best two players in the world.

“I think everyone saw the matches we had against each other, but you don’t understand how much respect we have for each other once the matches have finished. He’s a great guy. I enjoyed every single second of that battle and you could see that from how we looked at each other after each rally.”

Read Mohamed’s full quote on the Blog

Raneem sets up all-Egyptian final

The women’s British Open final will be a repeat of the recent El Gouna International climax, and of the last two Women’s World finals as Raneem El Welily  powered past Camille Serme to reach her first British Open final, where she will meet Nour El Sherbini in a clash of the world’s top two players.

Welily started strongly, taking the first but Serme struck back well in the second, using her volley to great effect. Welily led 8-5 in the third but a run of points saw Serme reach 10-8. Welily dug in to take the next four points and the lead, and was dominant in the fourth.

“The third was absolutely crucial,” said Raneem. “Camille was playing really well, and I think I was 8-5 up in the third and she managed to score five points in a row and that was an amazing performance from her but I think my mental status had gone a little bit down at that point so I had to fight really hard to regroup and I was lucky to win the third because it was crucial.

“It’s very special and I’m very happy to be in my first final at the British Open. I haven’t been very lucky in previous years but a little bit gutted to be missing Ramadan back home but at least I’m in the final and that will make up for it.”

Sherbini dethrones Massaro in thriller

Top seed Nour El Sherbini brought Laura Massaro‘s reign as British Open champion to an end as the Egyptian World #1 beat the English favourite in five game at a packed Airco Arena.

The first game was close all the way, Sherbini getting a game ball but Massaro taking the lead in extra points. The Egyptian powered through the second, but let a 9-6 lead slip in the third as Massaro again won in extra points to retake the lead.

Sherbini held sway in the final two games though, Massaro always fighting to keep up on the scoreboard, and after 72 minutes of high class and entertaining squash her reign was over.

“I’m really happy to win this match,” said Nour.

“It’s always really tough to play Laura in Hull, she was playing so good here but I’m really happy that I managed to get back and win the fourth and happy to be in another final.

“I think when you’re not playing the way you want to play you have to keep fighting for every point, I lost the third when I was leading 9-6 but I just kept going and tried to relax a bit.

“I just wanted to start the fourth well and take an early lead and I did that.”