Posted on November 02, 2017

Mohammed ElShorbagy emerged unscathed in an epic clash while world No.1 Gregory Gaultier marched on and Simon Rosner once again made history as the semi-finalists of the 2017 Qatar Classic were decided at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in Doha on Wednesday.

In all, six of the top eight seeds comprising three former champions and four Egyptians made it to the last-eight of the $165,000 total prize money event, the richest on the PSA World Series. The first match of the day between the two Egyptian giants Mohamed ElShorbagy, the third-seed, and fifth-seed Ali Farag was billed to be an epic encounter, and a classic it turned out to be with enough thrills and frills that will linger in the memories of all squash fans for a long time to come. With the last two meetings, US Open and VAS Championships, evenly split between the two Egyptians, the Doha clash was meant to provide the eventual winner the edge in their head-to-head stats.

The high-octane five-game match, with all the trappings of a 'final before final', eventually went the way of ElShorbagy, the 2013 and 2015 champion, who narrowly edged his 25-year-old Harvard graduate opponent 3-2: 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 16-18, 11-8 in a scintillating 93 minutes, the second-longest of the tournament so far. ElShorbagy, the 2016 finalist, left no one in doubts of his ambition of emerging the first three-time winner in Doha at this year's tournament as he took the first two games under 15 minutes before a tired-looking Farag, who together with his wife Nour El Tayeb became the first couple in sporting history to win the same major singles title on same day in the same event at the US Open in Philadelphia two weeks ago, staged a dramatic comeback to take the match into a tiebreak.

Farag momentarily carried the momentum of his late rally into the decider as he was initially ahead of his opponent before some repeated errors on his part allowed ElShorbagy put away the third of four match balls to book his semi-final berth. "It was a huge and fair battle, it was 50/50, and I'm happy I'm getting through today. We push each other, he is so incredibly talented, so happy to get through,"El Shorbagy said after the match."He makes me train harder. He is very clever and he makes me have to think on my game so much and on how I can improve it. He is improving tournament by tournament and match by match but so am I. We bring out the best in each other,"he added.

Farag said,"It is one of those matches you can only be proud to have been part of. But so very very disappointed. Still, if anything, it will make me work even harder for next time." Despite still recovering from ankle injury, the world No. 1 Gregory Gaultier of France booked a place in the last-four, where he is set to face Mohamed ElS horbagy, after strolling to a routine 3-0: 11/2, 11/7, 11/5 over his Peruvian opponent Diego Elias in the other match of the day. The 20-year-old Elias, who somehow became a giant-slayer after accounting for the first round exit of 2005 champion James Willstrop of England as well as India's number one player Saurav Ghosal in the second round, was eventually cut to size by the more experienced Frenchman who needed just 44 minutes to see his back in the one-sided encounter.

Gaultier made it 30 matches unbeaten over a best-of-five games format after the 'French General' disposed of training partner and World No.14 Elias. The 34-year-old dominated the opening stages as he dropped just two points to go one game up after putting in some perfectly constructed rallies and very few errors. A day after sending the defending chammpion Karim Abdel Gawad packing, Germany's Simon Rosner recored"the biggest achievement of his life"after securing a World Series semis for the first time in his career on the back of a 3-1: 11/7, 9/11, 11/5, 11/3 win over sixth-seed Marwan ElShorbagy of Egypt in 53 minutes.

The German, who entered into the main draw through the qualifiers, was all calm and composure, dropping only the second game as he once again scripted an impressive victory to book his place among the last-four in Doha.

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