Six Egyptians make it into semis
DOHA MAHESH Mangaonkar lost a glorious chance to reach the semi-finals in a memorable match at the Doha WSF World Junior Squash Championship on Tuesday. At the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, the Indian missed out on the opportunity, bowing to second seed and last edition’s runner- up Mohamed Abouelghar in tense and energy-sapping five games.
With his 10-12 8-11 11-9 12-10 12- 10 victory in 90 minutes, Abouelghar kept the Egyptian juggernaut rumbling along as six of its players made the semi-finals grade in both the men and women’s sections.
Mangaonkar, after throwing Abouelghar out of gears, took the first two games and exerted stifling pressure on the rival. But all credit to the Egyptian and his tenacity and pugnacity as he pulled himself out of the harm’s way with remarkable recovery, especially in the final three games. After sharing the first four games, Abouelghar seized 8-5 advantage in the decider, but Mangaonkar levelled at 9 with two strokes. Then he had a match ball after he forced the Egyptian second seed to hit the tin. Abouelghar must be praised for not losing his focus and hopes. He drew levels at 10 and then eked out two crucial points to wrap up the thriller.
One Egyptian is now sure to advance to the final as Abouelghar clashes with compatriot Mazen Hesham who knocked out Fares Dessouki, another Egyptian, by 11-7 11-6 9-11 11-7 in a little over an hour.
Men’s top seed and holder Marwan el Shorbagy kept his dream of winning second successive world crown on track, just as his brother Mohamed had done, after fending off a challenge from another Pakistani player. Shorbagy, who had required over 70 minutes to knock out Syed Hamzah Bukhari on Monday, had to spend 53 minutes to edge out Nasir Iqbal Khan.
The Egyptian wrapped up the win with 11-5 11-6 6-11 11-9 scoreline.
Bukhari gained some psychological edge after being one game and 1- 10 down when he threw caution to the winds and began to play some bold strokes. He managed to prolong the game and cut down Shorbagy’s lead to 1-2 by clinching the third game.
Shorbagy quickly realigned his tactics and went up 4-1. Khan rallied and used good drops to tie the scores. From then, neither could grab any decisive advantage. At 9-9, a close call went in favour of Shorbagy when Khan was expecting a let if not a stroke. The Egyptian number one then produced a superbly-controlled drop to convert the first ever match-ball and threw his racket in jubilation.
Shorbagy, who will take on another Pakistani player Danish Atlas Khan in the semi-finals, commented after another tough victory, “I decided to play a more aggressive game and enjoy my points by expressing myself.
“I’m happy with the way I played the first two games, but I could not sustain my concentration in the third game. My rival is a talented and dangerous player,” said Shorbagy, adding “I trained very hard for this event and want to win this anyhow.” Danish Atlas Khan maintained Pakistan’s presence in the semifinals with a fine 11-6 11-8 11-5 triumph against Jordan’s Ahmad al Saraj.
In the girls section, top seed and 2009 winner Nour el Sherbini made a short work of French Melissa Alves dismissing her in 16 minutes. She won by 11-3 11-5 11-4 to kick off the day in great style.
But Mariam Metwally, another Egyptian, was on cloud nine for her victory over higher seeded compatriot Kenzy el Dafraway. Both the players have played many times before and were aware of each other’s strong and weak points.
Metwally was, however, quite happy with her compact display as this was her fourth victory over Defrawy. Metwally had beaten Defrawy in the fourth round of the 2010 championships also.
The other semi-final will feature second seed Emily Whitlock of England and Yathreb Adel of Egypt. Whitlock, the former British Junior Open winner who has pocketed three titles this year, downed Egyptian Salma Hany by 11-7 11-8 4-11 11-5.
Whitlock had been beaten by eventual champion Noor el Tayeb of Egypt in the semi-finals of the last edition.
Adel looked like running through Indian rival Anaka Alankamony as she went 2-0 ahead. Alankamony clawed her way back into the match by reducing the margin 1-2. But Adel won the tight fourth game with a forceful and deep return on Alankamony’s backhand which she could not return and lost the match after both equalised several times.