Top seed Marwan ElShorbagy overturned a 2-0 deficit and came back from match ball down to avoid a shock defeat against World No.38 Abdulla Al Tamimi in the last quarter-final match of the day at the National Squash Centre in Manchester.
The World No.5 looked destined to exit the PSA World Tour Silver event at the quarter-final stage after a scintillating performance from Al Tamimi saw the Qatari No.1 make things incredibly uncomfortable for ElShorbagy on court as he dazzled the spectators with some superb winners throughout.
However, it was like two different players walked onto court for the third game as the momentum shifted completely in ElShorbagy’s favour. The 28-year-old dictated the tempo as he came back to take two games without reply, before keeping Al Tamimi at bay when match ball down in the fifth to win by an 8-11, 9-11, 11-1, 11-7, 12-10 scoreline.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be honest, I was expecting him to go shorter sooner than that and I should have been smarter, knowing that he can play differently. His coach in the US is smart and knows how to play against me, I guess. I should probably have thought about that tactic he would play, my brother does that really well against me, so I should have expected it a bit, but I’m really happy with how I came back after that.
“I told myself I have to fight. Nick [Matthew] and Danny [Massaro] haven’t seen me play here in a very long time, so I didn’t want to lose in the first match after a long time. It’s good, I’m happy to have both of them here, and I was looking at Danny and he was giving me that look [telling me] to breath and giving me confidence.”
ElShorbagy will line up against Peruvian No.3 seed Diego Elias for a place in the title decider after Elias dispatched 2015 World Championship runner-up Omar Mosaad in straight games in an error-strewn match.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s World No.18 Youssef Ibrahim continued his incredible form so far after he followed up his round two upset of No.2 seed Karim Abdel Gawad with a 3-0 dismantling of No.6 seed Mohamed Abouelghar.
Ibrahim will compete in the semi-finals of a PSA World Tour Silver event for the first time in his career after the unseeded 22-year-old – who is a senior at Princeton University – completed a spectacular 11-9, 11-5, 11-3 victory against Abouelghar to continue his giant-killing form at this year’s tournament.
Ibrahim will play Welsh No.4 seed Joel Makin – who won the British Nationals on this court last week – for a place in the final, with Makin battling to a 3-2 victory over Egypt’s Mazen Hesham in a captivating 82-minute battle, Makin with a rare display of emotion at the end of the prolonged match.
The women’s top seed – World No.7 Hania El Hammamy – kept her title challenge on track with a dominant victory against Belgium’s Tinne Gilis, winning 11-4, 11-4, 11-1 in just 28 minutes.
The Egyptian was firing on all cylinders and gave her opponent no time to attack as she cruised through to the last four, where she will take on Wales’ Emily Whitlock, who downed France’s Coline Aumard in impressive style to make it a hat-trick of Welsh players in the semi-finals.
“Playing against Tinne is never easy, playing the Gilis family is not easy. I played [Tinne’s sister] Nele in the last tournament and this one against Tinne. It’s tough to be playing against someone who is improving constantly.”
Also through to the next round is England No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry, who will take on 2019 Manchester Open runner-up Tesni Evans for a place in the final after they captured respective wins against Sivasangari Subramaniam of Malaysia and Nele Gilis, respectively.
“It was really nice to see Tesni playing some really good squash today,” Perry said.
“She’s a very good friend of mine, she’s had a lot of things going on in the past year or so and the most recent was a bit of a niggle. It’s great to see her back from that and playing some good squash, but hopefully I can stop her from doing that, which is the goal.”
The semi-finals of the Manchester Open take place tomorrow (August 12) and play starts at 17:30 (GMT+1). Action from the National Squash Centre will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV and the channels of contracted broadcast partners.