Brooklyn Mall, Pretoria
The Men’s and Women’s finals at the Growthpoint SA Open Squash Championships being played on the All Glass Court at the Brooklyn Mall, Pretoria will be an all Egyptian affair.
The men’s final sees what could be a battle royale between top seed, Mazen Gamal, and second seeded Mohamed ElSherbini, who won their respective semi-final clashes in contrasting fashion on Friday. 4th seed Farida Mohamed meets 5th seeded Menna Nasser in the women’s final.
South Africa is a happy hunting ground for ElSherbini, who in 2017 collected 4 PSA titles: the West Rand Open, the Balwin/Assore Central Gauteng Open, the Keith Grainger Memorial /IUCT Open and the Bullring Open, having had to qualify for each event.
In his semifinal clash with 4th seeded Rui Soares (Portugal), ElSherbini’s superior length and accuracy caught an out of form Soares off guard as the second seed via a 11-7 11-3 11-6 score line entered his fifth consecutive South African PSA final.
In contrast the second men’s semi-final between top seeded Gamal and 3rd seeded Frenchman Baptiste Masotti provided an exciting torrid tussle lasting 74 minutes.
5 unforced errors from Masotti cost him the first game against Gamal who won the game 11-6. A determined Frenchman returned to the court and aided by some shots into the tin by Gamal as well as some accurate drops from his own racket, Masotti took the game 11-4. The third game was marked by long rallies interspersed with killing drops but again 3 unforced errors by Masotti allowed Gamal to win the game 11-9.
The 4th game saw Gamal take a 6-1 lead before Masotti found his length and fought back to level at 6-all. 1 stroke, 3 lets, a conduct warning for Masotti – some unnecessary barging and Gamal held match point at 10-6. The game then took a sudden twist with Masotti reeling off the next 4 points to level at 10-all. Gamal held a second match point at 11-10 but Masotti again levelled at 11 all winning the game 13-11 on his first game point.
The start of the fifth game saw the referee give both players a warning to allow each other freedom of movement. It was Gamal who eventually edged through 11-6 to enter the final.
24 year old Menna Nassar, the 5th seed will play 16 year old fellow Egyptian 4th seeded Farida Mohamed in the women’s final.
In the first women’s semi final Nasser triumphed 11-4 11-8 9-11 11-6 over Alexa Pienaar, the 2018 SA Universities champion. Nasser’s more accurate placings put Pienaar under pressure and she was unable to counteract the variety of pace and length from her Egyptian opponent’s racket.
Mohamed, who was a semifinalist in the recent WSF Under 19 Junior Women’s Under 19 Championships in Chennai, India showed maturity beyond her years as she outplayed the South African number 2 ranked player, Milnay Louw. Louw played sound controlled squash to win the first game 11-9 against an opponent who did not like some of the refereeing calls. Playing attacking squash a focussed Mohamed then took 14 minutes to race through the next 3 games 11-4 11-7 11-5.
Play begins at 12h30 on Saturday 11th August followed by the men’s final at 13h30.
Results – Men semi-finals
- 1- Mazen Gamal (Egy) bt 3- Baptiste Masotti (Fr) 11-6 4-11 11-9 11-13 11-6
- 2- Mohamed Elsherbini (Egy) bt 4- Rui Soares (Por) 11-7 11-3 11-6
Results – Women semi-finals
- 4- Faridda Mohamed (Eng) bt 1- Milnay Louw (SA) 9-11 11-3 11-7 11-5
- 5- Menna Nasser (Egy) bt Alexa Pienaar (SA) 11-4 11-8 9-11 11-6.