Egypt's Mohamed Elshorbagy continued his recent domination of the PSA World Tour
by defeating World Champion Gregory Gaultier 3-2 in the final of the 2016 El
Gouna International to claim a sixth consecutive PSA World Series title and
avenge his runner-up finishes in the the tournament in 2014 and 2015.
The 25-year-old from Alexandria has been undefeated in PSA World Series
competition since losing the semi-final of the 2015 U.S. Open, to Gaultier, in
October, and has won his last 19 consecutive matches at the top level of the
professional game to become the first man since Ramy Ashour, the man who beat
him in both the 2014 and 2015 final, in 2012 to win six World Series tournaments
in one season.
Competing in front of a passionate and partizan home crowd Elshorbagy delighted
the onlookers in the Red Sea resort as he produced a remarkable comeback,
fighting back from 2-0 down to see off Gaultier in an enthralling 90-minute
battle to take the crown.
"It feels great to win this title after losing the last two years - I'm just so
happy to win and get the title in front of my home crowd, it's an amazing
feeling," said Elshorbagy.
"Today was a very tough battle at the end of a very tough season. I think I have
played more matches than any other player and it has been difficult to push
myself mentally at each tournament - to compete, rest and re-focus each time
takes so much out of you.
"I started the season losing the first round in Shanghai and then the semi-final
of the U.S. Open. To turn the season around and win six World Series tournaments
in a row is just a dream for me - I cannot believe that I have just done that.
"I had a big test today and I was very nervous - Greg and I always have such
great battles, he's such a tough competitor and I really had to work hard to get
back from two games down. I'm really happy I came through that test."
The French World No.2 put in a virtuoso performance in the opening two games,
playing precise and powerful squash to dominate the court but Elshorbagy fought
back with impressive tenacity to force a decider.
In the fifth Gaultier opened up a quick 4-0 lead but the man coached by then
legendary Jonah Barrington, who today celebrated his 75th birthday, roared back
once again to take a ferocious rally and move 6-5 up - the first time he led
throughout the entire match - before eventually profiting from a simple error
off the strings of Gaultier's racket that handed him the trophy at the third
time of asking.
"At 2-0 down I just kept fighting - it might be what I'm best at," added
"Beating him from 2-0 down is not easy and in the fifth I was 4-0 down, then 6-2
down, but I just kept fighting. It paid off in the end and he made a few errors
that helped me in the closing stages.
"This is by far the best tournament I play in all year and I really want to
thank everyone this week for all the support and for putting on such a great
After the match Gaultier said: "It's hard for me to lose but I will keep a smile
on my face.
"Thanks to the sponsors and tournament for their support - they continue to
raise the level here every year."
World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy and World Champion Gregory Gaultier will go
head-to-head for the sixteenth time, and first since the 2015 Qatar Classic
final, when they line up for the final of the 2016 El Gouna International – the
final PSA World Series tournament of the 2015/16 season – tomorrow in the Red
Elshorbagy has dominated the PSA World Series throughout the season, winning
five of six possible titles on offer so far and underlined his credentials as
the man to beat once again as he swept past Colombian World No.6 Miguel Angel
Rodriguez 11-7, 11-4, 11-5 in just 35 minutes to move into a third consecutive
El Gouna International final – where he will aim to better his runner-up
finishes in this tournament in 2014 and 2015.
After pulling off a huge upset victory over World No.4 Omar Mosaad in the
quarter-finals Rodriguez appeared to be a touch off his usual blistering pace
and while he stuck with Elshorbagy during the opening game, he was powerless to
resist as the Egyptian motored through the gears to put the high-flying South
American to the sword.
“I am really happy to be able to win this match today,” said Elshorbagy.
“Miguel has been in great form this tournament and he showed how good a player
he is by beating Mosaad yesterday. I knew I had to play my best squash to beat
him and I though I played my best squash of the week today.
“It has been a great season for me so far but I don't want it to stop now,
especially because I am playing in my home country. I want to try and win this
title in front of everyone here – the crowd have been great.”
Elshorbagy trails the Frenchman 10-6 on their head-to-head record but will be
hoping to close the gap in that statistic tomorrow after Gaultier saw off
unseeded Egyptian, and surprise package, Fares Dessouki.
Competing in his first ever World Series semi-finals the 21-year-old got off to
a flying start, playing some of the best squash he has put together on Tour
inside the past 18 months as he caught Gaultier by surprise to take the game to
the Frenchman, forcing the pace and profiting to take the opener 11-7.
But the tenacious 33-year-old came back fighting in the second and, following a
bizarre passage of play during which an exchange of words took place between the
two which riled the man known as the 'French General', it was Gaultier who took
the bit between his teeth to storm back and take three consecutive games and
secure a 7-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-3 victory.
“Today was the first time that he managed to take a game against me and I think
that is the best he has played against me,” said Gaultier, the World No.2.
“In front of his home crowd he surprised me in the first so I was more aware and
on my toes in the second to try and make it tough and tire him. When I was 2-1
up I gave it a big push in the first few points in the fourth – moving up on the
T and pressuring on him – and I felt my movement and confidence was getting
“It was tough, and the conditions were tough, but I think it was better than
yesterday and we managed to deal with it.
“I had a great 2015 season, being World Champion and being World No.1, and I was
in a great dynamic before the injury (sustained in January) which broke up my
rhythm and my season. I was unlucky and missed a few tournaments and I'm trying
to come back as best as I can now.”
Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez produced a performance of note and intent as he
defeated hard-hitting Egyptian Omar Mosaad, the World No.4, on home soil during
the quarter-finals of the El Gouna International to reach the semi-finals of the
PSA World Series tournament, taking pace against the backdrop of the Red Sea,
for the first time in his career.
Three days of scorching heat and humidity were substituted by blistering winds
on the fourth day of competition and it was Rodriguez who took advantage,
slowing the pace of the match and extending rallies with frequent use of height
to exploit the blustery conditions on court, and come through a bruising 80
minute battle 3-1.
The victory, which saw the tenacious World No.6 fightback from one-game down,
sees Rodriguez through to the last four of a World Series tournament for the
first time since February's Windy City Open, where World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy
"I think the biggest opponent today was the wind - I was trying to get used to
it but it was hard to control it," said Rodriguez.
"I think I adapted to it well and hit the zone and hit the corners and dealt
with it better today. He wanted to win too quickly and I was playing with more
patience. I think I had a great performance and I'm very happy to win and make
the semi-finals here in Egypt.
"I haven't won a World Series tournament yet and this is my fourth time in the
semi-finals. My goal for this year is to make the final of a World Series and
win one - being in the last four here in Egypt is very special for me, for
Colombia and for South American squash."
Rodriguez will line up against tournament favourite Elshorbagy after the World
No.1 saw off Simon Rösner, his toughest test so far, in a 46 minute 3-1 victory
while Marwan ElShorbagy, the World No.12 and recent Grasshopper Cup champion,
suffered a surprise defeat to fellow Egyptian Fares Dessouki.
Prior to the tournament 21-year-old Dessouki hadn't won back-to-back matches on
the PSA Word Tour during 2016 but he followed up impressive wins over Daryl
Selby and Karim Abdel Gawad with a gritty come form behind win over ElShorbagy.
Dessouki trailed 2-0 and faced multiple match balls in both the fourth and fifth
games as he fought tooth and nail and was rewarded when he clinched the decisive
fifth 12-10 to reach the last four of a World Series tournament for the first
time ever in his career.
"I am so happy I came back from 2-0 down to win that match," said Dessouki.
"It was a very tough match mentally and physically. Marwan had a massive
tournament last week - beating Gregory in an amazing final in Zurich - so I knew
it would be a very tough match.
"The was the first time I reached a quarterfinal here in El Gouna and to now
reach my first ever semi-final in front of this amazing crowd is such a good
Dessouki will face World Champion Gregory Gaultier for a place in the final
after the Frenchman got past Ali Farag in a rapid fire five-game encounter that
saw him prevail 4-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-4, 11-4 after just 50 minutes.
World No.1 and tournament favourite Mohamed Elshorbagy saw off a spirited
challenge from England's Chris Simpson to move into the quarter-finals of the
2016 El Gouna International and keep alive his hopes of going one better than
his 2014 and 2015 runner-up finishes at the PSA World Series tournament taking
place beside the Red Sea.
It wasn't one way traffic for the man who has dominated the PSA World Tour this
season, winning five consecutive PSA World Series tournaments, as Simpson
hustled and harried him throughout. But it was Elshorbagy's greater class that
made the difference in the latter stages of all three games as he took the
crucial points to leave the Englishman rueing wasted opportunities including a
squandered game ball chance in the third.
"I got very lucky in the third game especially," said Elshorbagy. "He kept
pushing hard - the conditions were very tough, hot and humid and when the
conditions are like that it can mess your head a little bit.
"I think I dealt with the conditions well enough and I'm really happy I got
through in the third game - as the competition goes on it gets tougher so I have
to rest well and prepare for tomorrow."
Elshorbagy will now face World No.9 Simon Rösner for a place in the semi-finals
after the towering German put a halt to the charge of Mexican qualifier Cesar
Salazar who had come through a mammoth 200 minutes to reach the second round of
a World Series event for the first time in his career.
"Simon and I have had some great battles over the years and I am sure tomorrow
will be another one," said Elshorbagy.
"We have never played in conditions quite like this so it will be interesting to
see how we both deal with it - I'm sure it will be high quality and exciting for
Hard-hitting Egyptian Omar Mosaad and Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez will
face-off in the second quarter-final in the top half of the draw while in the
bottom half, World Champion Gregory Gaultier came through his second round match
against Stephen Coppinger to set up an last eight encounter with Ali Farag - the
man he beat in the semi-final stage during last week's Grasshopper Cup.
"Ali and I have played quite a lot recently," said Gaultier. "He's a fantastic
player and another rising star from Egypt so I need to recover well now and be
as fresh as possible for tomorrow.
“Hopefully we can produce another good game and I know it will be tough."
Grasshopper Cup champion Marwan ElShorbagy, younger brother of Mohamed, will
face fellow Egyptian Fares Dessouki in the last quarter-final after the pair
came through their encounters with Omar Abdel Meguid and Karim Abdel Gawad,
The second day of action at the 2016 El Gouna International was
dominated by home success as Egyptian players triumphed in six of
eight matches during a dramatic day of competition at the Red Sea
resort that saw three-time champion and 2015 winner Ramy Ashour's
hopes of title-defence halted prematurely due to injury.
The maverick Egyptian returned to competitive action on the PSA
World Tour during last month's Allam British Open following an
extended injury absence, but appeared to suffer a reoccurrence of
the hamstring difficulty that has plagued his career over the past
three years as he conceded his first round match up to recent
Grasshopper Cup winner Marwan ElShorbagy.
Ashour started slowly in the first game before an awkward looking
movement into the front of the court mid-way through the second led
to a hand shake and a subdued end to what promised to be a
"Ramy is a great player - he's won this tournament three times,"
said ElShorbagy. "I didn't expect what happened today - it's sad
what has happened to him.
"When he's around it is great for the sport and the players, I just
hope he can fix all his injuries because when he's playing fit the
sport is in a better place.
"Before playing today I just wanted to enjoy the experience and make
the most of it. Sadly that didn't happen today but last week in
Zurich gave me a lot of confidence. I can't wait to be back on the
court again tomorrow - playing in Egypt is a great opportunity and
I've never made the quarters here before so I'll give it a big push
Earlier in the day qualifier Omar Abdel Meguid produced a mammoth
performance to overcome a gap of 12 places on the World Rankings and
take out Hong Kong's World No.17 Max Lee in a gruelling 75 minute
match up while fellow compatriots Fares Dessouki, Karim Abdel Gawad,
Tarek Momen and Ali Farag also came through to the delight of home
The other winners on the second day were World Champion Gregory
Gaultier and South African Stephen Coppinger, who avoided total
collapse in his first round encounter against Qatar's Abdulla Mohd
Al Tamimi as, after storming ahead 2-0 a series of costly errors
with the finishing line in sight led the match to be turned upside
On a hot and humid court Tamimi stormed back into contention to
force a fifth game but the experience Coppinger managed to recompose
himself at the crucial stage to avoid a shock first round defeat.
"Everyone is talking about the conditions and it is hot, it is
humid, but for me the most difficult thing today was him," said
"He made it hard to find any kind of rhythm and I never felt
settled. I'm livid with myself for that third game because it was
just simple mistakes and then I lost my way in the fourth.
Thankfully the opposite happened in the fifth and I got it back."
The opening day of competition at the 2016 El Gouna International
saw Mexican qualifier Cesar Salazar pull off the biggest upset of
the day as he downed Mohamed Abouelghar to move into the second
round of a PSA World Series tournament for just the first time in
The 28-year-old World No.30 came through a mammoth 112-minute
encounter in the final round of qualification yesterday to book his
place in the main draw and backed up with a superb performance
against the talented 22-year-old Egyptian to emerge victorious after
Overcoming a gap of eight places on the World Rankings, Salazar
played with precision and focus from the start, coming from 2-1 down
to pressure Abouelghar into errors in a never-say-die attitude that
paid dividends in the end.
"I’m very happy with my performance today," said Salazar. "It’s my
first time ever in the second round of a World Series tournament.
"I feel that the training I did with Miguel (Angel Rodriguez) in
Bogota just before the tournament and the training I do with David
Palmer in Orlando is really starting to pay off.
"Yesterday was tough but I woke with energy and confidence. I made
sure I focused from the start and tried to make the rallies long and
pressure him. I had to push really hard in the fourth and fight for
every point because that's what you have to do to try and beat a top
Salazar will now face Simon Rösner in the second round after the
German came through a stop-start battle with Scotland's Greg Lobban,
that was postponed twice for light failure and court maintenance,
during what was a difficult day in humid conditions for competitors
on the Red Sea.
World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy came through his opening encounter
with compatriot Mazen Hesham in a testing and closely fought three
games, coming through 12-10, 11-9, 13-11 courtesy of two tie-breaks.
"It was very tough conditions today," said Elshorbagy. "It was hot
and humid but we players have to go play all over the world and
adapt to different conditions and I'm glad with how I dealt with it
"I think that tonight we presented ourselves in a way that made
Egypt proud. Our country is very strong, we have 5 players in the
top 10, which is remarkable in itself."
World No.4 Omar Mosaad was the only other Egyptian winner on the
opening day of action as he saw off Cameron Pilley 3-1 in a result
that could end the Australian's hopes of making it to the PSA World
"I’m happy with my game today, the conditions are very hard, it’s
very hot and humid," said Mosaad.
New Zealand's Paul Coll and Qatar number one Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi
pulled off the biggest upsets of qualification at the 2016 El Gouna
International as they overcame the challenge of Alan Clyne and Diego
Elias, respectively, to go through as two of eight qualifiers to
gain a berth in the main draw of the PSA World Series Tournament.
Kiwi Coll stormed past England's Tom Ford 3-0 in round one of
qualification and backed up with a gritty straight-games win over
tenacious Scotsman Clyne that sees him through to face Chris Simpson
in the main draw, while Tamimi overcame a gap of almost 20 places on
the World Rankings to defeat World Junior Champion Diego Elias in
one of his biggest wins on Tour in recent months.
Tamimi will now face South African Stephen Coppinger in a main draw
that will also feature Omar Abdel Meguid, who was the only Egyptian
from a 14 strong contingent to came through qualification. Meguid
overcame compatriot Mohamed Reda in straight-games to set up a main
draw encounter with Hong Kong's Max Lee.
The other players to come through qualification were Gregoire
Marche, Nafiizwan Adnan, Cesar Salazar, Greg Lobban and Nicolas
Frenchman Grégoire Marche will be favourite to move into the main
draw of the 2016 El Gouna International after topping the
qualification draw released today by the PSA.
Marche faces England’s Angus Gillams in the first round before a
seeded decider with Farhan Zaman will decide on who makes the main
draw of the final PSA World Series tournament of the season, while
Swiss star Nicolas Mueller occupies the number two seeding on the
opposite side of the draw.
A total of 14 Egyptians will take to the courts at the Movenpick
hotel El Gouna when qualification starts on April 21 with Omar Abdel
Meguid and Mohamed Reda the favourites to go through qualification
and add their names to the home contingent in the main draw.
Qualification Draw – El Gouna International
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) v Angus Gillams (ENG)
[L] Maged Ashraf (EGY) v  Farhan Zaman (PAK)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v Tom Ford (ENG)
[L] Omar Bahgat (EGY) v  Alan Clyne (SCO)
 Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) v Joshua Larkin (AUS)
[L] Khaled Mostafa (EGY) v  Christopher Gordon (USA)
 Mohamed Reda (EGY) v Andrew Wagih Shoukry (EGY)
[L] Marwan Tareq (EGY) v  Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY)
 Cesar Salazar (MEX) v [L] Saadeldin Abouaish (EGY)
[L] Karim Magdy (EGY) v  Kristian Frost Olesen (DEN)
 Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) v Ahmed Hussein (EGY)
Ben Coates (ENG) v  Diego Elias (PER)
 Greg Lobban (SCO) v [L] Mohamed Elgawarhy (EGY)
Karim El Hammamy (EGY) v  Todd Harrity (USA)
 Ivan Yuen (MAS) v [L] Youssef Ibrahim Abdallah (EGY)
Mazen Gamal (EGY) v  Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
World No.1 James Willstrop has withdrawn from the upcoming El Gouna
International after suffering a viral infection that will keep him
out of the final PSA World Series tournament of the season.
The 32-year-old Yorkshireman was due to face close friend and
training partner Saurav Ghosal in the opening round, but his
withdrawal means that his spot in the main draw will now be taken up
by Hong Kong’s Leo Au.
Willstrop had previously finished as a runner-up in this event back
in 2012 but lost out to current champion Ramy Ashour in the final.
Three-time World Champion Nick Matthew has withdrawn from this
month's El Gouna International, the final PSA World Series
tournament of the season, as a result of an ankle injury sustained
during the recent Allam British Open.
Matthew's withdrawal sees British Open runner-up and defending El
Gouna champion Ramy Ashour rise up to occupy the number four seeding
in a move that boosts the 28-year-old’s hopes of qualifying for the
Dubai PSA World Series Finals. Ashour is now seeded to meet Gregory
Gaultier at the semi-final stage in a repeat of the their classic
British Open semi-final clash before a seeded rematch with rival
Mohamed Elshorbagy could await in the title-decider - with Ashour
needing to reach the decider for a chance to compete in Dubai.
Ashour will face Elshorbagy's younger brother Marwan, the World
No.11, in the first round while German Simon Rösner moves up to the
eighth seeded position where a qualifier will await him in the first
Talented youngster Mohamed Abouelghar comes into the main draw from
qualification to complete an 11-strong contingent of Egyptian
players in the main draw.