8:34 pm
12 Jul 2024

Elaraby Stops Orfi To Reach ToC Semi

24 Jan 2024

World No.12 Rowan Elaraby has reached a semi-final of a Platinum-level event for the first time since 2022 after overcoming her young Egyptian compatriot Amina Orfi in a quarter-final thriller at the JP Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

Elaraby, whose previous appearance in the last four of a Platinum came at the 2022 Black Ball Open, continued her excellent run at this event as she produced a big performance to hold off teenage sensation Orfi.

The 23-year-old dictated the pace for most of the match, and was 2/1 up going into a key fourth game for both players. A request for a new ball went in from Orfi, and it appeared to have come to her aid when she had two game balls to tie the match again. Both were saved by Elaraby for another tiebreak and she squandered a match ball when she drilled the ball out of court.

Two game balls followed for 16-year-old Orfi - both saved again - as Elaraby then had four match ball opportunities to seal a semi-final berth. It would be fifth time lucky for Elaraby in a monumental tiebreak.

"I'm over the moon with my performance today," she said.

"I gave it everything and I know Amina is a very tough, young opponent. You have to have your A game to beat her - she's an up and coming player, she's already there and she's competing with the top players.

"Beating her is definitely a bonus for me. I really worked on my game plan, I tried to focus on every rally and I tried not to get overexcited.

"I wanted to concentrate point by point, rally by rally, and I'm really happy with my performance today."

Elaraby will lock horns with Nouran Gohar for a place in the final at Grand Central after the former world No.1 downed Nour El Tayeb 3/0.

Gohar, who won the event back in 2022, maintained her 100 per cent streak in New York this year having not dropped a single game so far.

"Nour is a phenomenal player," said Gohar after her win. "She gets so many balls back, I don't understand how she does it! But it's so hard to play against her. I think the crowd here like our matches, that's the third time we've played here and I was lucky last time to win so I'm very happy to win in three.

"If it would have gone to five, she is stingy and stubborn but I have huge respect for her.

Mostafa Asal is into the men's semi finals in New York for the first time in his career as he resisted a strong fightback from Mohamed ElShorbagy.

Asal had only reached the quarter finals previously at the Tournament of Champions, but the 'Raging Bull' has gone one better this time to move within one match of the final.

The current world No.4 was two games to the good against ElShorbagy, but 'The Beast' roared back as he moved higher up the court and won the third and fourth games to force a decider. Having trailed early on in the fifth, ElShorbagy pegged the score back to 9-9 to set up a tense finale, and Asal had match ball when the Englishman was deemed to have carried the ball onto his racket. Asal went on to clinch the match, concluding 118 minutes of dramatic action.

"It's always difficult to play against your idol," Asal said. "He's a huge idol for me and I respect him so much. It's one of the toughest matches I've played against him. You never know the emotions, you never know how much I respect this legend.

"When you see him as a World Champion and world No.1 for many months, it's scary when you see the numbers. Every time I step onto court with him I'm very proud to play with this legend of the sport."

Asal will take on reigning champion Diego Elias, who delivered an accomplished performance to book his spot in the last four as he saw off Mazen Hesham.

The Peruvian, who was defeated recently by the Egyptian in the semi finals of the Florida Open, was tactically impeccable against Hesham on this occasion to continue his title defence in New York.

"I think I played well today, I didn't make many errors," said Elias. "Mazen beat me last week in Florida and I wanted my revenge and I'm happy with how I played and how focused I was.

"I watched a few matches where I beat him and I came up with a better game plan for today.

"I'm really happy to be in another semi final here in New York. I'm the defending champion and this is my favourite tournament. I'm so happy to have my dad with me and almost every tournament now and I'm just super pleased."