It will be an all-Egyptian affair in the semi-final of the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters 2009, as second seed Amr Shabana and compatriot Ramy Ashour won their respective quarter-final matches at the Bombay Gymkhana on Tuesday.
While Shabana overcame stiff resistance from another Egyptian Mohamed El Shorbagy before emerging 11-5, 5-11, 12-10, 11-7 victorious, Ashour won a hard-fought five-setter, marred by some poor refereeing, 11-8, 16-18, 9-11, 4-11, 11-8 against Australian David Palmer in what was one of the most thrilling matches of the tournament.
The game began at a frenetic pace as the third seed Ashour pocketed the first game 11-8. However, no one would have anticipated that Palmer would take a 7-1 lead in the second game.
Ashour made a spectacular comeback winning some good points to make the score 10-9. Palmer had an opportunity to shut the game on his opponent but he missed a winner forcing the game into a tie-break.
The tie-break saw some amazing display as the other made a comeback every time one went ahead. However, erroneous decision by the referee handed the game to Palmer to the disbelief of Ashour.
Ashour continued to bear the brunt of some poor decision by the referee, which in turn affected his game. He argued, begged and advised the referee to concentrate on the ball and not on him, but finally had to resign to his fate.
The Egyptian missed a lot of winners in the third game as the fifth-seed Palmer pocketed it 11-9. In a bid to conserve his energy, the 33-year-old Palmer slowed down in the four game allowing Ashour to make a comeback and clinch it 11-4.
Ashour began the fifth game well leading 4-1 at one stage but the Australian kept pegging at him, even risking a dive on the wooden surface.
Palmer too suffered from a couple of close calls as Ashour pocketed the game and the match, which lasted for over an hour and 15 minutes.
In the other game, Shabana started well breezing through the first game 11-5, but Shorbagy came back well to clinch the next game by the same margin.
The next game was keenly contested with both the players matching stroke for stroke but Shabana hung on, kept his cool in the crucial moments and finally won the game 12-10.
The close loss in the third game was too much to handle for Shorbagy, as Shabana settled the issue winning the game 11-7, and thereby reserving his spot in the semi-final.
The other semi-final would be played between the winners of the other two quarterfinals, where Frenchman Thierry Lincou clashes with Englishman Nick Mathew and England's Peter Barker takes on Netherlands' L J Anjema.