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It’s Egypt all the way at SA Championships finals

final

Both of Saturday’s men’s and women’s finals at the Growthpoint SA Open Squash Championships being played on the All Glass Court at the Brooklyn Mall, Pretoria will be an all-Egyptian affair.

The men’s final sees what could be a battle royale between top seed Mazen Gamal and second-seeded Mohamed El Sherbini, who won their respective semi-final clashes in contrasting fashion on Friday. Fourth seed Farida Mohamed meets fifth-seeded Menna Nasser in the women’s final.

South Africa is a happy hunting ground for El Sherbini, who collected four PSA titles in 2017: the West Rand Open, the Balwin/Assore Central Gauteng Open, the Keith Grainger Memorial/IUCT Open and the Bullring Open.

In his semi-final clash with fourth-seeded Rui Soares (Portugal), El Sherbini’s superior length and accuracy caught an out-of-form Soares off guard as the second seed notched up an 11-7, 11-3, 11-6 scoreline to book his fifth consecutive South African PSA final.

In contrast, the second men’s semi-final between top-seeded Gamal and third-seeded Frenchman Baptiste Masotti provided an exciting tussle of 74 minutes.

Five unforced errors from Masotti cost him the first game against Gamal, who won 11-6.

The determined Frenchman returned to the court and was aided by some shots into the tin by Gamal as well as some accurate drops from his own racket; Masotti took the game 11-4.

The third game was marked by long rallies, interspersed with killing drop shots but again three unforced errors by Masotti allowed Gamal to win the game 11-9.

The fourth game saw Gamal take a 6-1 lead before Masotti found his length and fought back to level at 6-all. Then one stroke and three lets, a conduct warning for Masotti, some unnecessary barging and Gamal held match-point at 10-6.

The game then took a sudden twist with Masotti reeling off the next four points to level at 10-all. Gamal held a second match-point at 11-10 but Masotti again levelled at 11-all but winning the game 13-11 on his first game point.

The start of the fifth game saw the referee give both players a warning to allow each other freedom of movement.

It was Gamal who eventually edged through 11-6 to enter the final.

final

Meanwhile, 24-year-old Nassar, the fifth seed, will play 16-year-old fellow Egyptian, fourth-seeded Mohamed in the women’s final.

In the first women’s semi-final, Nasser triumphed 11-4, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6 over South Africa’s Alexa Pienaar, the 2018 SA Universities champion.

Nasser’s more accurate placings put Pienaar under pressure and she was unable to counteract the variety of pace and length from her Egyptian opponent’s racket.

Mohamed, who was a semi-finalist in the recent WSF Under-19 Junior Women’s Under 19 Championships in Chennai, India, showed maturity beyond her years as she outplayed the South African No 2-ranked player, Milnay Louw.

Louw played sound, controlled squash to win the first game 11-9 against an opponent who did not like some of the refereeing calls. Playing attacking squash, a focused Mohamed then took 14 minutes to race through the next three games 11-4, 11-7, 11-5.

Play begins at 12:30pm on Saturday with the men’s final at 1:30pm.

Results:
Men
Semi-finals: 1 Mazen Gamal (Egy) bt 3 Baptiste Masotti (Fr) 11-6 4 -11 11-9 11-13 11-6; 2 Mohamed Elsherbini (Egy) bt 4 Rui Soares (Por) 11-7 11-3 11-6

Women
4 Farida Mohamed (Eng) bt 1 Milnay Louw (SA) 9-11 11-3 11-7 11-5; 5 Menna Nasser (Egy) bt Alexa Pienaar (SA) 11-4 11-8 9-11 11-6

Photos: SA Open action and excited spectator, by Gary Plumstead


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