World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy and three-time World Champion Nick Matthew will go head-to-head for a place in the final of the 2016 Qatar Classic at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha.
The pair have met 19 times on the PSA World Tour, with defending champion ElShorbagy winning 11 of them – including the 2013 Qatar Classic final where the 25-year-old Egyptian claimed his first ever World Series title.
ElShorbagy earned his place in the last four after coming through a gladiatorial five-game contest with German No.1 Simon Rösner, beating the World No.13 5-11, 14-12, 9-11, 11-5, 11-9.
“It was unbelievable,” said ElShorbagy. “Every player has a quality that is different from other players. Maybe my quality is that I’m a fighter, I just keep fighting and that’s maybe the thing that kept me alive in this match and got me a win at the end.
“Today, it’s not because I was playing badly or because my level went down, it’s because I was playing someone who was doing something special on court. For me, I still have the same mental strength I’ve always had and I think maybe that’s why I won today.”
Matthew produced a superb comeback from two games down to defeat Frenchman Gregoire Marche after Marche put in a display full of vigour and control in the early stages to take the lead.
But the mental resilience that has been a hallmark of the 36-year-old’s glittering career came to the fore as he fought back to take the next three games without reply, earning the win by an 8-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-3 margin to move to within one win of a second World Series final of the season.
“Mohamed is the number one player in the world, he has that same quality that I think I have, where he can get the wins even when he’s not at his best, and he’s proven that over and over again,” said Matthew, who lost out to ElShorbagy in last month’s Delaware Investments U.S. Open final.
“I think it would be fair to say that neither of us have played our very, very best this week, but here we are in the semis.”
World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad and World No.19 Daryl Selby will contest the other semi-final fixture after they claimed respective wins over World No.7 Marwan ElShorbagy and Australian No.1 Cameron Pilley.
Results – Quarter-Finals: 2016 Qatar Classic
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Simon Rösner (GER) 3-2: 5-11, 14-12, 9-11, 11-5, 11-9 (80m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-2: 8-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-3 (85m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 11-4 (49m)
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt  Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-1: 11-9, 11-1, 8-11, 12-10 (70m)
Draw – Semi-Finals: To be played Thursday November 17
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Nick Matthew (ENG)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Daryl Selby (ENG)
The third day of action at the 2016 Qatar Classic – the World Series tournament taking place at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha – saw German No.1 Simon Rösner put in an immaculate display to defeat former World No.1 James Willstrop.
Rösner, the current World No.13, was deadly from the outset and executed his game plan to perfection, with a powerful and accurate performance sending Willstrop into all four corners of the court, drawing the normally accurate Yorkshireman out of his comfort zone and into a number of errors to record a superb 11-7, 11-7, 11-8 victory.
“I think I played my best squash, my best squash of the season, at least,” said Rösner.
“I kept him behind me most of the time and I was able to attack quite well at the front. I played attacking squash and I think that I can’t play much better than that.
“It’s so tough to beat this guy, I think he’s pretty much back to normal and playing the way he used to before he was injured. To beat him in this form is quite special for me, so I’m really glad.”
Rösner will take on defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy for a place in the semi-finals after the World No.1 overcame a strong challenge from Hong Kong’s Leo Au.
World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad continued his title charge, but was forced all the way to five games after a dogged challenge from fellow Egyptian Zahed Mohamed to set up a quarter-final fixture with World No.7 Marwan ElShorbagy, with the 23-year-old defeating Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly.
Frenchman Gregoire Marche has reached his first ever World Series quarter-final after coming through an intense five-game contest with World No.9 Tarek Momen.
Three-time World Champion Nick Matthew will face Marche for a place in the semi-finals after defeating tenacious Scotsman Alan Clyne, while Australian No.1 Cameron Pilley and World No.19 Daryl Selby will contest the other quarter-final fixture courtesy of respective wins over Mexico’s Cesar Salazar and qualifier Adrian Waller.
At the World Series tournament held at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha, the World No.19 relinquished a one-game lead to go 2-1 down, but produced a spirited fightback to claim a huge 11-9, 5-11, 2-11, 11-9, 11-2 victory for the 34-year-old – his first win over Mosaad at the sixth attempt.
“It was tough as it always is, and it hasn’t really sunk in yet, but I’m delighted obviously to beat him for the first time,” said Selby.
“It was a similar match to the ones we’ve played in the past, they always seem to be five-gamers and they’re always fairly physical. I expect that really because he’s such a big guy. He’s tough to play because he hits the ball so hard and so cleanly.
“Maybe I kept my head a little bit better in the fifth game and he looked a little bit despondent. He’s lacking a little bit of confidence at the moment, whereas I’ve been having some decent results.”
World champion Karim Abdel Gawad got his tournament off to a winning start as he led compatriots Marwan ElShorbagy and Zahed Mohamed through to the second round, where there will be a five-strong Egyptian contingent after World No.1 Mohamed, the older brother of Marwan, and World No.9 Tarek Momen claimed wins on the opening day of action.
Gawad, competing less than two weeks after he defeated compatriot Ramy Ashour in the PSA Men’s World Championship final in Cairo, went a game behind courtesy of some consistent play from Reda.
But the 25-year-old found his range and showcased his sublime attacking talents to full effect as he won the next three games in comfortable fashion, taking it 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-3 to ensure that he will take on Mohamed – who beat England’s Tom Richards – for a place in the quarter-finals.
“I was very, very tired after the World Championship,” said Gawad.
“I finished on the Friday and then I had to travel on Monday to Qatar. I only had a couple of sessions in Qatar, I didn’t have enough time to do loads of fitness, I just tried to relax my body and tried to recover.”
World No.7 Marwan booked his place in round two after rising to a routine 3-0 win over Hong Kong’s World No.41 Tsz Fung Yip.
Yip, who claimed a notable win over World No.8 Miguel Angel Rodriguez in August’s Hong Kong Open, started brightly and went 3-0 ahead in the opening game before ElShorbagy took control, coming through 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 in 27 minutes – and he will face Australian No.2 Ryan Cuskelly in the next round.
“I was very happy, it was my first time playing Yip, he’s had a few good wins and I had to watch a few of his matches to study him,” said ElShorbagy.
“I had to be careful from the beginning and not give him any chances as he would have taken them. I’m very happy to win in less than half an hour. There are no rest days for us in the bottom half, so it’s perfect for me against Cuskelly.”
Cuskelly made history at this tournament last year after he became the first player since 2001 to come through qualification and progress to the last four of a World Series tournament – and he required five games to see off World No.17 Max Lee.
Lee was irresistible early on as he swept to a one-game lead for the loss of three points, but a tenacious Cuskelly refused to bow down to the pressure as he battled back to go 2-1 ahead. The 29-year-old was unable to convert a match ball though, and Lee forced a decider, only to succumb to cramp as Cuskelly closed out a 3-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-13, 11-9 victory.
“I probably didn’t play the best but I tried to stay solid and he gave me a few cheap ones in the end before he started cramping, so I was a bit lucky,” Cuskelly admitted.
“Overall, I’m happy with the win. I’ve had a couple of bad results, so everything was going through my head. I could have lost it but I stayed strong in the fifth and snuck it.”
Cuskelly will be joined in the next round by fellow Australian Cameron Pilley, who defeated Nafiizwan Adnan in straight games, and Pilley will face Cesar Salazar in round two after the Mexican beat Omar Abdel Meguid.
England’s Adrian Waller overcame World No.34 Nicolas Mueller in the day’s other fixture and he will take on Selby for a place in the quarter-final stage.
Results – First Round (Bottom Half): 2016 Qatar Classic
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt [Q] Mohamed Reda (EGY) 3-0: 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-3 (41m)
Zahed Mohamed (EGY) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 12-10, 11-4 (27m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-2: 3-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-13, 11-9 (96m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [Q] Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 (27m)
 Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 3-0: 11-5, 11-9, 11-5 (52m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 3-1: 11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 15-13 (53m)
[Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-1: 6-11, 11-5, 11-8, 12-10 (62m)
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt  Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-1: 11-9, 5-11, 2-11, 11-9, 11-2 (69m)
Draw – Second Round: To be played Tuesday November 15
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Leo Au (HKG)
James Willstrop (ENG) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
[Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) v  Nick Matthew (ENG)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Zahed Mohamed (EGY)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Cesar Salazar (MEX)
[Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) v Daryl Selby (ENG)