Egypt 2-1 Germany
Karim Abdel Gawad 3-2 Raphael Kandra 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 8-11, 11-4 (58m)
Ali Farag 2-3 Simon Rosner 6-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 8-11 (73m)
Mohamed Abouelghar 3-0 Valentin Rapp 11-3, 11-7, 11-7 (27m)
Boasting three players in the world top four, Egypt are surely the strongest favourites the event has ever seen. Yet the title-holders were taken the full distance by Germany, the fifth seeds who suffered a surprise defeat to lower-seeded Spain in the qualifying rounds.
World No.3 Karim Abdel Gawad was first on court to face Raphael Kandra, the Germany No.2 whom he had never before faced. As expected, Gawad romped to a 2/0 lead against the world No.28 and looked set to open a one-game lead for the top seeds.
But underdog Kandra was far from overawed by the former world champion and hauled back the deficit, taking the next two games to force a decider. Gawad, a recognised five-game expert, soon regained the initiative, however, and after 58 minutes closed out the match 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 8-11, 11-4. A new trend for him, losing the first two games to take the next three bless him.
It was the number ones who were then on court – world No.1 Ali Farag boasting a 7/5 head-to-record over Simon Rösner and four recent wins in succession. But it was the German who was control in the early stages, building up a two-game lead.
Farag fought back to level the match – but the tall and imposing German, ranked 6 in the world, regained the momentum to reach match-ball at 10-3. With crowd on the edges of their seats, Farag clawed back point after point before Rösner finally celebrated his 6-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 8-11 upset after 73 minutes.
It was left to the Egyptian number four Mohamed Abouelghar, ranked 8 in the world, to clinch his country’s predicted victory when he beat Valentin Rapp 11-3, 11-7, 11-7 to put Egypt into the semis for the 12th time in a row.
“Before the match started, I was talking to Ali – we made sure that none of us relaxed, no matter what happened and I think that helped a lot,” said Abouelghar after the match. “Before Ali’s match, I knew that if he won that mine would be a dead rubber, but I didn’t go with that mentality and I warmed up and was ready for the match and I’m very happy to help the team get the win.
“On the squash court there are no favourites, on paper we’re the strongest but in a team event when things get tight the nerves are very high and I’m very happy to have held my nerves today.”