[6] Karim Abdel Gawad 3-1 [5] Joel Makin (WAL)  11-6, 9-11, 11-8, 11-6 (65m)
[1] Nour El Sherbini3-0 [2] Hania El Hammamy  11-6, 11-7, 11-9 (63m)


El Sherbini – champion here a year ago – defended her title in ruthless fashion, beating her compatriot in the final for a second straight year. El Hammamy would’ve been in little doubt over the quality she was facing, but if she needed a reminder, it arrived on the first point of the match.

Engaged in a steady rally down the backhand wall, El Sherbini unleashed a vicious cross-court winner out of nowhere to give herself an early lead. With the ball flying around on the warm glass court at Zurich’s Halle 622, El Sherbini continued to impress the capacity crowd, punishing a loose El Hammamy drop with a delicate trickle boast to move 4-1 up.

A backhand into the tin with El Hammamy on the floor was a rare lapse from the World No.1, but the wry smile that followed showed how relaxed she was feeling. She was soon 10-6 up and a yes-let became a stroke following an El Sherbini review, giving her a one-game lead in 15 minutes.

El Hammamy took the unusual step of staying on court between games one and two, and went toe-to-toe with the defending champion in the rallies that followed. A small cut on El Sherbini’s knee forced her to take an injury break at 5-3 up, but any chances of her losing momentum were soon dispelled with a sublime backhand drop from deep in the court.

The 27-year-old retained her lead for the duration of the game, though only after the video referee ruled that a sprawling pick-up from El Hammamy’s racket was not good at 8-7. Another brilliant boast, this time on the forehand, gave El Sherbini a two-game lead, but El Hammamy came out firing in the third.

She raced out to a 4-0 lead only to suffer the same fate as her opponent one game earlier, reluctantly being forced off court as blood leaked from her knee. The stoppage didn’t appear to derail her as she moved to 6-1 up, with both players now showcasing bandages on their knees.

As all good champions do, though, El Sherbini kept on coming. The 6-1 lead soon turned into 8-7 and then 9-9, at which point El Sherbini was sensing glory. A double hit from the younger player followed another El Sherbini trickle boast, to set up championship point, which resulted in a stroke to hand the No.1 seed the title.

“It feels amazing,” she said after her win. “I’m happy with my performance, happy that I won 3-0 and happy to retain my title. I think movement was the main key for me. Hania’s game is very physical and you have to find the balance between the physical movement and the squash.

“I was trying to mix between moving well, getting her shots back and winning my points, but moving well today was definitely one of my main keys.”

“I think I played even better today than in the final of the U.S. Open, and beating Hania in two major finals 3-0 proves a lot to me.

“I’m really happy with the way I’m playing and hopefully I keep going like this.”

Just over an hour later, Gawad wrapped up his second PSA Tour title of 2023, beating Joel Makin 3-1 in the men’s final. Fresh from knocking out both ElShorbagy brothers en route to this final, Gawad made a dominant start against the No.5 seed, taking game one 11-6 on a volley boast winner.

At 5-0 up in game two, it looked as though it might be a short afternoon for the Egyptian, who wowed the crowd with a delightful bluff and drop shot to win the fifth of those points.

Makin, though, showed his resilience, clawing his way back to 5-5. He was helped by a lapse in concentration from Gawad – who seemed to switch off mid-point when he thought a Makin lob had gone out – and then benefitted from a smart review, turning a let into a stroke at 3-5 down.

The Welshman went on to close out the game 11-9, avoiding the same fate as Marwan ElShorbagy, who had squandered all five of his game balls against Gawad in the semi-finals. Makin then threw everything at his opponent in the opening rallies of game three, sending Gawad the wrong way with a crisp backhand drive on the game’s fourth point.

The Egyptian, though, was ruthless, punishing anything even slightly loose from Makin’s racket, moving back a game ahead when a Makin forehand lob went out at 10-8. Game four was a similar story, with some brutal rallies keeping the crowd entertained, and every Makin point cheered louder in the hope of seeing a deciding fifth.

Gawad – who had El Sherbini coaching him between games – was in no mood to be charitable, arguably playing his best squash as an Egyptian double edged ever closer. The moment of glory came at 10-6 in the fourth, when a back-wall boast from a scrambling Makin fell short of the front wall.

Speaking on court following his win, Gawad said:

“I’m really pleased with the way I played this week, the way I fought in every match. It’s been a great week, keeping my focus and pushing all my limits. In the second game, at 5-0 up he came back really strong. It was one of the best short games he’s ever played.

“He was very sharp, so I had to be even sharper than him, not give him any easy chances in the middle of the court because he was hitting amazing winners from all over the court.

“I just wanted to push the ball to the back and control the middle of the court as much as possible, and after the second I tried to push the ball even more towards the back of the court and I’m glad it worked.

“I think I’m playing very good squash. “I’m moving well on court, mentally I’m much better than in the years before and I’m enjoying every moment on court. I’m enjoying the way I’m playing in the tournaments, and I’ll just keep working as hard as possible to maintain that level.”


[1] Nour El Sherbini 3-0 [4] Georgina Kennedy (ENG) 12-10, 11-3, 11-4 (24m)
[2] Hania El Hammamy 3-0 [3] Nele Gilis (BEL)  11-9, 11-4, 11-7 (47m)

[6] Karim Abdel Gawad 3-0 [3] Marwan ElShorbagy (ENG)  12-10, 11-8, 12-10 (53m)

Karim Abdel Gawad knocked out an ElShorbagy brother for the second day running to reach the Grasshopper Cup final, while Nour El Sherbini and Hania El Hammamy will meet in another final in the women’s draw.

Less than 24 hours after edging a thrilling quarter-final 2-1 against Mohamed ElShorbagy, Gawad beat Marwan ElShorbagy 3-0 in the semi-finals. The Egyptian saved two game balls at 10-8 down in the opener, eventually winning 12-10 on a forehand volley, which followed a brilliant boast that was described as ‘gut-wrenching’ in the SQUASHTV commentary box.

It was then Gawad who found himself at 10-8 up in the second, but unlike ElShorbagy, he took his opportunity to move within one game of the final.

The English No.2 had more chances in the third, once again squandering game balls, this time from 10-7 up. He lost the third on a backhand into the tin, and Gawad let out a huge roar after moving to match point by winning the next rally. A trademark backhand drop sealed victory for the Egyptian, sending him into a final against Welsh No.1 Joel Makin.

“Playing Marwan is always tough,” he said after the match.

“Today I won 3-0 but all the games were very close. I was down in all three games and things can change at any time.

“Luckily, I pushed mentally until the end and just tried not to give Marwan any chances.”

Looking ahead to the final, the 32-year-old added: “I think this is [Makin’s] best time of his career. He’s playing some amazing squash and moving very well on court.

“He’s had a lot of upsets this season and he’s playing his best squash now. I think I’m playing my best squash too so tomorrow is hopefully going to be a great final.

“I’m looking forward to a good recovery, good sleep and to come back tomorrow as fresh as in the first match of the tournament.”

The women’s final will be a familiar sight, with El Sherbini and El Hammamy battling it out for glory for the third time in the last five weeks. The pair also met in the final of the Grasshopper Cup a year ago, and will now run it back for glory in Zurich once more.

El Sherbini produced a dominant display to be the first player into the final, beating Georgina Kennedy 3-0. The World No.1 – champion here last year – had to save a game ball at 10-9 down in the first, but after coming back to claim it 12-10, she stepped up a gear.

El Sherbini dropped only seven points across the next two games, wrapping up victory in style with a backhand drop from the back of the court.

“I think I was a little bit nervous at the beginning, thinking a little bit too much about our last meeting,” she said.

“Once I relaxed and started thinking about my game plan, I think I played better. It was also very important to win the first game, and I’m definitely happy that the last two games ended like they did.

“I’m trying to play at the top of my game. I still feel I’m missing little things but I’m improving every day and I’m happy with the way I’m playing, and just being in the final is proof for me that I’m playing well.”

Fellow Egyptian El Hammamy also won her semi-final 3-0, seeing off the threat of Nele Gilis.

Coming into the match, El Hammamy had only lost one of her previous eight matches with the Belgian, and took the first game 11-9 despite a host of uncharacteristic errors, particularly on the backhand.

Like El Sherbini, El Hammamy upped her game after the first, cruising through the second 11-4 before winning six of the final seven points in game three, moving from 6-5 down to 11-5 to seal victory.

“It’s always tough playing against Nele, it’s always physical,” she said, moments after victory.

“We just had a quarter-final battle at the US Open 10 days ago. It was very tough as well, very physical, so I was ready for it and prepared myself for it.

“I’m over the moon to get it done in three. I didn’t want it to go to a fourth or a fifth. It’s already physical playing against her, even playing and winning 3-0 is still physical.”

Looking ahead to the final against her compatriot, El Hammamy added: “It’s always tough playing against Nour, for sure.

“She’s the World No.1, she’s the world champion, so it’s never easy playing against her, but it really depends on me, and how I’m playing on that day.

“Last week, it was a bad day for me in the final of the U.S. Open, so I’m going to make sure I give it a fight tomorrow and I’m not going to let it go easy like last week.”


[7] Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 2-1 [2] Mostafa Asal  7-11, 11-6, 11-8 (60m)
[5] Joel Makin (WAL) 2-0 Youssef Ibrahim  11-3, 11-6 (26m)
[6] Karim Abdel Gawad2-1 [1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG)  12-10, 9-11, 11-9 (58m)

[1] Nour El Sherbini2-0 [6] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 11-5, 11-8 (21m)
[2] Hania El Hammamy 2-1 [5] Rowan Elaraby 11-8, 8-11, 11-7 (48m)

Round Two

Youssef Ibrahim 2-1 [4] Mazen Hesham  11-5, 5-11, 11-8 (42m)
[2] Mostafa Asal 2-0 Auguste Dussourd (FRA)  11-5, 11-9 (34m)
[6] Karim Abdel Gawad 2-0 Raphael Kandra (GER)  11-6, 11-7 (23m)

[1] Nour El Sherbini 2-1 Lucy Turmel (ENG)  11-3, 12-14, 11-2 (34m)
[3] Nele Gilis
(BEL) 2-0 Kenzy Ayman  11-9, 11-5 (22m)
[2] Hania El Hammamy 2-0 Fayrouz Aboelkheir  11-6, 11-6 (21m)

Mostafa Asal said

“I trained a lot in three months. I was loving it, getting fit, fit, fit, and I’m ready for another challenge. I focused on a lot of things that make me better and don’t get me into trouble again, and I want to thank James Willstrop for all his amazing work. The Pontefract club is amazing.

“I have my coach here with me, and the combination between him and James is unreal.”

Youssef Ibrahim said

“I think my coach and my brother are going to kill me when they see this shot (a forehand nick). The last couple of tournaments they’ve said please, please don’t play a top spin, don’t play those shots, just play it safe. When it goes wrong, it’s horrendous to be honest, but when it goes right, it’s really good so I’m happy that one went in.”

Nour El Sherbini said

“It’s tough to play straight after the U.S. Open. I’m still a little bit jet-lagged and it’s hard to get the body running again.

“Lucy’s a very good player. I’ve never played her before so it was a tricky first round for me. She was more attacking and more aggressive in the second game so I just wanted to play more of my game in the third.”