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‘I’m having the time of my life’ says Mazen Hesham as he reaches the British Open semi-finals

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Published in Squash
Friday, 01 April 2022 21:06

Kiwi Joelle King through to last four after ending home hopes by beating Sarah-Jane Perry
By ALAN THATCHER and SEAN REUTHE

Flamboyant Egyptian Mazen Hesham says he is enjoying “the best time of my life” after beating Nicolas Mueller to reach the semi-finals of the Allam British Open for the first time.

World No.10 Hesham will line up in the semi finals of a PSA World Tour Platinum event for the first time since the 2015 Qatar Classic.

Hesham prevailed in an entertaining five-game battle which saw both players contest some exhibition-style rallies, much to the delight of a packed crowd.

Both have been enjoying a run of excellent form, with Hesham reaching the semi-finals of the GillenMarkets Canary Wharf Classic, losing narrowly to eventual champion Fares Dessouky.

Mueller, the first Swiss player to reach the quarter finals of this event, twice came from behind to equalise, but he was ground down by his opponent in the fifth as Hesham completed an 11-7, 11-13, 11-3, 11-13, 11-5 victory.

Hesham said: “Me and Nicky hadn’t played in our careers and then in the last four or five months we’ve played so many times, and every tie is tougher and tougher.

“I kept pushing and pushing just to be able to seal the deal. I’m very happy to be here, enjoying the squash and entertaining the people, having the best time of my life.

“My body is always playing games with me, but I’m used to it now. I’m just dealing with every match at a time. I’m really lucky. I want to thank all the PSA physios, they really help me out. People sometimes make fun that I’ve always got the physio, but there’s no other way to do it.”

Hesham will take on two-time runner-up Ali Farag for a place in the final, with Farag coming back from a game down to overcome fellow Egyptian Tarek Momen in a testing battle.

The third game was crucial, with Farag pushing through the tiebreak before closing out the fourth to win 6-11, 11-9, 14-12, 11-5 in 62 minutes.

New Zealand’s world No.1 Paul Coll will meet Mostafa Asal after beating Diego Elias

World No.1 and defending champion Paul Coll is also through to the semi finals after he got the better of close friend and regular training partner Diego Elias, beating the Peruvian 11-7, 11-8, 11-8 in 58 minutes.

Coll said: “It was a free-flowing clean match – they’re the most enjoyable matches to play.

“We’re really good friends – we always respect each other and give it everything. Diego has been working on his strength and movement and it’s showing in his game, he’s a lot stronger on the ball.

“Thanks to all my supporters, my boys coming from NZ, I have my girlfriend here and my physio here. The crowd has been great and I can’t wait to play again tomorrow.”

It will be the New Zealander’s third time in the semi-finals and he will go up against World No.4 Mostafa Asal for a place in a second successive British Open title decider.

The pair have had some brutal battles in the past, with their last fixture going the way of Coll after three previous defeats to the 20-year-old.

Asal defeated Colombia’s 2018 champion Miguel Rodriguez in an entertaining three-game battle that was closer than the scoreline suggests to reach his first semi-final.

New Zealand’s Joelle King (right) beats England’s Sarah-Jane Perry to reach the semi-finals for the first time

In the women’s event, World No.5 Joelle King has reached the last four of the British Open after six previous quarter final defeats courtesy of a dominant 12-10, 11-9, 11-5 victory over World No.6 Sarah-Jane Perry that ended English participation in the draw.

“SJ and her partner have just had a little baby a few weeks ago, so I know they have been going through so many emotions,” said King.

“I’m just so glad they’ve finally got their little boy. But it’s so hard to come out and play a friend, you have to set all emotions aside. It was my seventh quarter final and I just want to go further in these tournaments.”

King will take on World No.3 Hania El Hammamy, who confidently dispatched Belgium’s Tinne Gilis. Neither player has reached the title decider of the British Open before, meaning there is guaranteed to be a new finalist in the women’s event.

World No.1 Nouran Gohar celebrates returning to the top of the rankings by beating fellow Egyptian Nour El Tayeb

World No.1 Nouran Gohar will take on World No.4 Amanda Sobhy in the other women’s semi final. Gohar overtook Nour El Sherbini at the summit of the PSA Women’s World Rankings yesterday and made a winning start to her second spell as the world’s top female player, with an 11-4, 11-8, 5-11, 11-9 win over the impressive Nour El Tayeb.

Talking about her love for the British Open, Gohar said: “It goes back to 2016 for me, when I reached the final when I was 18, just after I’d won the British Junior Open, so it’s very special.

“I just want to thank the Allam family for their support of squash. When people ask me about my favourite venues, I always say the British Open. I usually have my mum here with me, so it’s strange not having her here, but I just have good memories.”

Sobhy maintained a high level to beat fellow American Olivia Fiechter in three hard-fought games.

2022 Allam British Open, Allam Sports Centre, Hull, Yorkshire, England.

Men’s Quarter Finals:
[1] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [5] Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-1: 6-11, 11-9, 14-12, 11-5 (62m)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-2: 11-7, 11-13, 11-3, 11-13, 11-5 (52m)
[4] Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Miguel Rodriguez (COL) 3-0: 12-10, 11-7, 11-5 (44m)
[2] Paul Coll (NZL) bt [6] Diego Elias (PER) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-8 (58m)

Men’s Semi Finals (April 2):
[1] Ali Farag (EGY) v Mazen Hesham (EGY)
[4] Mostafa Asal (EGY) v [2] Paul Coll (NZL)

Women’s Quarter Finals:
[2] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Tinne Gilis (BEL) 3-0: 11-4, 11-3, 11-5 (28m)
[5] Joelle King (NZL) bt [4] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-0: 12-10, 11-9, 11-5 (42m)
[3] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Olivia Fiechter (USA) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-8 (35m)
[1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [8] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-1: 11-4, 11-7, 5-11, 11-9 (52m)

Women’s Semi Finals (April 2):
[2] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v [5] Joelle King (NZL)
[3] Amanda Sobhy (USA) v [1] Nouran Gohar (EGY)

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour

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