Egypt’s married couple Nour El Tayeb and Ali Farag reached their first World Series semifinals together since their historic U.S. Open title run, defeating compatriots Raneem El Welily and Ramy Ashour in the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions Tuesday night in Grand Central Terminal.
Last October in Philadelphia, El Tayeb and Farag became the first married couple in sporting history to win the same major sports title on the same day, and they are still on track to pull off the same feat in New York City following Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
Farag silenced a partial New York City crowd by ending Ashour’s twelve match unbeaten run in Vanderbilt Hall in four games, 11-7, 12-10, 7-11, 11-5, in sixty-seven minutes.
“Describing Ramy as tricky is an understatement,” Farag said. “On his day he’s the best player on Tour and everyone knows that. I just tried to forgot about who I was playing. At times, I look at him as the squash God and because of that I sometimes forget to play my own game, so today the most important thing was to focus on my own game plan that was devised by my team and I think it went well.”
El Tayeb followed her husband on court against world champion Raneem El Welily in their third match up since the U.S. Open final. El Tayeb turned around her fortunes against El Welily, who won their last two encounters, defeating the world No. 2 6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-8 in forty-three minutes.
“If someone would have told me that we [El Tayeb and Farag] would both come out as winners, I wouldn’t have believed it,” El Tayeb said. “Raneem is not just the maverick of squash, she’s one of my idols. I learn a lot from here on and off the court, she’s the most graceful, most talented Egyptian female squash player. I got so nervous in Ali’s match, it took me a while to get this match going and against someone like Raneem, I can’t afford to start late. I saw how Ali studied his game and was preparing for the match and I tried to do that like him. I hope he’s happy with my performance today and hopefully we can keep it up tomorrow.”
Farag and El Tayeb will face Tarek Momen and Camille Serme in the semifinals, respectively. Serme, the defending champion, held off the challenge of eight-time world champion Nicol David in four games to keep her title defense in tact.
World No. 1 Nour El Sherbini will face Laura Massaro in the semifinals after both players pulled off confident three-game victories Tuesday afternoon.
Wednesday’s semifinals begin at 5pm ET.