It’s an all-Egyptian World final in Doha

Two England v Egypt semi-finals, two upsets, the demise of the world number one and the defending champion, and an all-Egyptian final – it was quite a day in Doha …

Shorbagy wins brutal semi-final in Doha

[8] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) 3-2 [1] James Willstrop (Eng) 11/9, 9/11, 14/12, 4/11, 11/8 (112m)

The first semi-final of the Qatar PSA World Championship in Doha was a brutal affair lasting xx minutes.

Mohamed El Shorbagy, the 21-year-old Egyptian who yesterday beat fourth seeded compatriot Karim Darwish was up against top seed and world number one James Willstrop, having lost his last six matches against the Englishman after winning just their very first encounter.

There was nothing to choose betweet them during the first three games, all long, all very very tough.

Shorbagy took the first 11/9, Willstrop responded with the same score in the second, closing it out with a particularly brutal rally which saw Shorbagy perform retrieving miracles before finally succumbing.

The third saw more of the same, with the young Egyptian retaking the lead on his fourth game ball and the clock reaching the hour and a half mark.

Shorbagy held that momentum to lead 4/2 in the fourth but Willstrop reeled off seven point in a row to level 11/4 in a six-minute game.

The Englishman took an early lead in the decider, 6/3, but Shorbagy fought back this time, levelling at 7-all. There was no quick finish to thiis game, as Shorbagy took the lead 9-8 after a particularly heavy rally, then scrambled to put in a winning counter drop to reach match ball 10/8.

A patient rally ended with Willstrop clipping ther top of the tin with a half-volley and Shorbagy was in the final.

“He is such a Champion, I still can’t believe I beat him. How big is this! Yesterday, I beat Darwish, and today, James,” said the victor. “I never pushed that hard in my life ever, but this is the Worlds, if I don’t push now, when??? I just didn’t want to lose today.”

Ashour dethrones Matthew

[5] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-1 [2] Nick Matthew (Eng) 11/9, 11/5, 9/11, /11/8 (71m)

The second semi-final – also an England v Egypt affair – was less dramatic but no less enthralling, tense or skilful.

Ramy Ashour, champion in 2008 and runner-up in 2009, had got the better of defending champion Nick Matthew in most of their recent matches, but the Egyptianm, seeded five, was coming intoi the match after a marathong quarter-finals while Matthew, the second seed and 2010 and 2011 champion, had had a marginally easier passage.

Matthew took the better start, but Ashour clawed back the first game deficit to take the lead 11/9, then dominated the second to double his advantage 11/5. Matthew took a lead again in the third, but this time held off his closing opponent to reduce the deficit 11/9.

Again it was the Englishman in the early-game ascendancy in the fourth as he led 5/3, but again Ashour fought back, making his opponent work hard to stay in the rallies and taking five points in a row to lead 8/5.

Matthew pulled a couple of points back, but two trademark volley winners from Ashour took him to match ball, and on the second attempt, after several tense rallies ending in lets, a Matthew volley hit the tin and not only had we lost both the world number one and the defending champion, but we had ourselves an all-Egyptian final, and a new number one in January too!

“I said that my bad starts on this court would come back and haunt me, and they did,” said Matthew. “I’m happy with the way I fought back in the 3rd and 4th, but I had a game plan, and he just executed his better than I did.”

Ashour was delighted: “He was the World Champion, and not easy to beat. He is probably the fittest guy on the tour. It was not easy to beat Nick Matthew tonight. Tomorrow, another tournament starts, another day, and both of us will do our best to show the world what is Egyptian squash.

“I’m on the Top of the World!!!!!”

Full coverage: www.worldsquashchamps.com

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