Tournament of ChampionsEgypt’s world no.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy has entered the semifinal of JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York City as the prestigious annual event entered its 86th year. Previously known as US Professional Championships, the tournament is now a PSA World Series event and Squash’s premier international championship for men and women. The men’s competition has 32 players while the women’s draw is restricted to 16. While there was no surprise in Mohamed Elshorbagy beating his compatriot and no.5 seed Omar Mosaad, France’s Mathieu Castagnet caused raised eyebrows by entering the semifinal and setting up a clash with Elshorbagy. Castagnet defeated former world no.5 Borja Golan of Spain in a lengthy quarter-final battle. In the other semifinal, Nick Matthew will play against Frenchman Gregory Gaultier. In their QF matches, Nick Matthew had to draw from his long experience to come back after losing the first two games and defeat Egypt’s Marwan Elshorbagy, while Gaultier defeated Germany’s Simon Rosner. Among women, Malaysia’s long-time former world no.1 Nicol David was pushed close to elimination before bouncing back to defeat Egypt’s Omneya Abdel Kawy to enter the SF.

Tournament of Champions  ElshorbagyDefending champion Mohamed Elshorbagy lost the first game 9-11in the QF against compatriot and no.5 seed Omar Mosaad but bounced back smartly to take the next three. The 6’3” tall Mosaad played an energetic first game and surprised the world no.1 even more by taking an 8-4 lead in the second. But Elshorbagy found his bearings and reeled off the next 7 points to level the score with an 11-8 win. The champion also took the next two games and sealed his place in the SF with a 9-11, 11-8, 11-5, 12-10 victory.

For a place in the final, Elshorbagy will have to beat French no.2 Mathieu Castagnet, who fought a 72-minute battle with Spain’s former world no.5 Borja Golan before beating him in the other QF. Castagnet displayed amazing court speed and uncanny retrieval skills throughout the match that had only three games. After taking the first game at 11-8, Castagnet climbed to a 9-4 lead in the second but Golan was not about to give up as he not only rallied to bring the score at 9-9 but held a game point at 11-10. The Frenchman, however, kept his cool and benefitted from Golan’s errors on crunch points and secured the game at 13-11. Castagnet jumped to a 9-1 lead in the third game and finally won 11-9, 13-11, 11-4.

In another quarterfinal, England’s 35-year old world no.3 Nick Matthew fought from the brink after losing two games against Egypt’s Marwan Elshorbagy and took 81 minutes before taking the match 10-12, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6. Matthew’s 18 year experience was evident as he prevented Marwan Elshorbagy from scoring his first victory in their several meetings. Matthew’s SF opponent will be his long-term French rival and no.3 seeded Gregory Gaultier, who defeated Germany’s Simon Rosner 11-8, 9-11, 14-12, 12-10 in 78 minutes.

Nicol David of MalaysiaAmong women, 2014 champion Nicol David of Malaysia was pushed hard in her quarterfinal match against Egypt’s Omneya Abdel Kawy.  After winning the first game, David lost the next two as the Egyptian fought tooth and nail. But David survived as she took the last two games to emerge winner at 11-6, 10-12, 10-12, 11-3, 11-5. Arguably, one of the best all-time squash star among female players, David had an easy passage to the quarterfinal after she beat Hong Kong’s Annie Au 11-2, 11-5, 11-7 in about 25 minutes while Kawy came through with a straight games victory over India’s Joshna Chinnappa. In some major upsets in women’s draw, England’s world no.1 Laura Massaro lost to Egypt’s Nouran Gohar 12-10, 9-11, 11-5, 8-11, 9-11; USA’s Amanda Sobhy defeated England’s Alison Waters 12-10, 11-3, 11-9 and Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini outlasted Frenchwoman Camille Serme 11-4, 11-9, 8-11, 8-11, 11-8. On Wednesday Gohar plays against Sobhy while David takes on Sherbini to determine the two women finalists.