Day SIX : Semi-Finals
First up was a repeat of the Commonwealth Games final, and it was Joelle King who repeated that triumph with a comfortable three-nil win over Sarah-Jane Perry. Raneem El Welily came through a five-setter that could have gone either way to reach her fourth HK final – she’s yet to win one.
The men’s final will be contested by the top seeds Mohamed ElShorbagy and Ali Farag in a repeat of last years final. Both won today’s semis in similar fashion – recovering from a deficit to sneak the first before dominating twe next two games, Tarek Momen and Simon Rosner the victims.
Joelle powers into the final
Joelle King came into this match boasting a good head to head record – 6-1 – against Sarah-Jane Perry, but today must ave been one of the Kiwi’s most comfortable wins. It wasn’t that Joelle was playing out of her skin, but SJ certainly wasn’t playing anywhere near yesterday’s level.
Joelle took the in intiative from the start, and only in the third, when SJ recovered from 4-8 down to 7-8 did she threaten. But Joelle surged ahead and soon enough was in her first HK final.
“I felt like I played well,” said Joelle. “SJ has had an amazing week and two really tough matches. I just had to think about making it hard for her at the start and try to not let her back in. We have had some epic battles over the years, today it was 3-0 but it is always mentally so tough against her.
“This is the closest tournament to New Zealand, so it’s like playing at home a little bit. I’ve been coming for eight or 10 years and let’s hope that I can make it a win tomorrow.”
ElShorbagy through to fourth final
But the world #1, world champion and three-time HK champion effectively dominated proceedings from ten on as he powered through to a straight games win.
“Tarek has been in great form this season,” said Mohamed. “He had the best season of his career last season and he is having an even better season this year. I knew I had to be sharp from the beginning, he had a great start in the first game, but I think coming back and winning that game was crucial.
“I’m happy to be through, it’s my fourth final here and I’m hoping to go all the way. I love coming back here, I have great memories and I hope that I can get my name on the trophy for a fourth time.”
Raneem squeezes into fourth final
She has another chance though, after coming trough an all-Egyptian five setter against Nouran Gohar which could have gone either way – the lead changed hands in each game, Raneem was behind in the first but took it, Nouran trailed in the second and fourth but won both. She led at the midpoint of the fifth too, but it was Raneem who finished the stronger, taking the win on a video ref stroke.
“Nouran really gave me nothing today,” said Raneem. “She was covering every aspect of the court and her balls were just sticking to the wall today. She played really great squash and all credit to her for putting up such a great match.
“I’m very happy to be through and to be in another final in Hong Kong. It was a very close match and could have gone either way but I’m very happy to come out as the winner.
“Joelle is obviously playing really good squash, she has knocked out some top players who are in form and she is a strong player as well. We’ve had very close matches in the past, so hopefully tomorrow will be another good one.”
Farag does a repeat job on Rosner
The German kept with the pace in the first and at 10-8 had the chance to take the lead, but once Farag had taken four points in a row to sneak that game, the outcome was never in serious doubt as Farag controlled the rallies and Rosner was powerless to break the spell.
“He definitely tested me at all times,” said Ali. “We all saw the epic match he played last night, which was the match of the season so far. I knew how important that first game was, he played 100 minutes yesterday and he didn’t have much energy left in the tank, so I was lucky from that perspective.
“I’m just happy with how I stuck to my tactics even though I didn’t start very well. I tried to keep it as tight as possible and not give him many angles because he’s so lethal on his volleys, so I’m just very happy to be through today.”
Mini Gallery (lots more in the full Gallery)