7:57 am
24 Jun 2024

Farag Dethroned As Elias Extends Historic World Run In Cairo

18 May 2024

Peru's world No.4 Diego Elias denied Ali Farag the chance of a fifth world title after ending a six-match losing streak against the world No.1 to become the first South American in history to reach the final of the CIB PSA World Championships at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation in Cairo, Egypt.

Elias had won just three of 25 matches against the reigning champion coming into the semi-final match, with his only win over the Egyptian on a glass court coming in the final of the 2022 US Open - a match in which Farag retired injured after just two points.

But Elias was finally able to vanquish an opponent who had bested him so often in the past, battling to an 11-5, 11-8, 7-11, 11-7 victory in 85 minutes to end Farag's run of three successive World Championship titles.

"I'm very happy with how I played today," said Elias, who will play world No.3 Mostafa Asal in the final.

"Playing Ali is always tough and I've lost to him more than 20 times, he's one of the best ever and I'm super happy. Sometimes after the first game against Ali I give up and I get tired and I don't push. But tonight I pushed as hard as I could and I think that was the difference.

"I fought really hard and winning the rounds before helped me get here as fresh as I can. I feel great, I'm going to be feeling good tomorrow and I can't wait to play a World Championship final."

Elias's final opponent will be Asal after the Egyptian got the better of New Zealand's world No.2 Paul Coll after a five-game, 83-minute contest to reach the World Championships final for the first time.

Asal has now also reached four successive PSA Tour finals for the first time in his career after beating Coll by an 11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 3-11, 12-10 scoreline, with their match finally coming to an end at 02:06 local time.

A tenacious Coll fought back from a two-game deficit and then overturned three match balls, but two costly strokes handed the match to Asal.

Asal has won nine of his 12 meetings with Elias going into the title decider and it will be the first non all-Egyptian final since the 2019-20 World Championships.

"It's crazy, I love to play here and I love to compete in Egypt," said Asal afterwards.

"The crowd gave me a boost. Today was very physical and tough. Fair play to Paul, he's an amazing athlete coming from 2/0 down. In between games, at two-all, he [James Willstrop, Asal's coach] said to me, 'Come on, it's a World Championships. Why aren't you giving it 100 per cent'? All credit to him, it's a turning point having this legend behind me."

Meanwhile, world No.1 Nour El Sherbini and world No.2 Nouran Gohar will contest the women's World Championship final for the fourth season in a row after they beat world No.7 Olivia Weaver and world No.3 Hania El Hammamy, respectively.

El Sherbini is now just one win away from matching the legendary Nicol David's record haul of eight PSA World Championship titles. The 28-year-old from Egypt has won the previous five World Championship titles in a row and has now recorded 35 straight victories at the sport's biggest tournament following an 7-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-5, 11-5 win over World No.7 Weaver.

"It definitely wasn't an easy match," said El Sherbini.

"I couldn't lose in front of this amazing crowd, with every point they were cheering me and hyping me up. After being 2/1 down I said there's no way I can leave this court by losing. I just want to keep going and I'm really happy I'm through."

Gohar will now aim to end a run of three straight World Championship final defeats to her compatriot after she toppled El Hammamy by a 12-14, 11-2, 11-5, 11-7 scoreline after 94 minutes of action.

"Everyone that has seen me and been around me, especially my close ones, I've shown them some hard times because I always want everything to be perfect and I think I gave it my heart," said Gohar.

"I have made a lot of sacrifices to be in this place right now... I don't think I've enjoyed my squash as much as I am doing right now and I think it's helping me perform well. Even with the pressure of the event, you think you can't enjoy it, but today I did enjoy myself on court. I'm really proud of myself."