Beng Hee and Coppinger await them in semis
A fiercely determined Stephen Coppinger upset Alister Walker’s hopes. (Birmingham Athletic Club photo)
Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — Defending champion and top seed Mohamed El Shorbagy and #2 seed Hisham Mohd Ashour swept their quarterfinal opponents Saturday, putting them on course for an all-Egyptian final at the Motor City Open, presented by The Suburban Collection. But standing in their way will be two formidable semifinal opponents in Malaysia’s Ong Beng Hee and Stephen Coppinger of South Africa.
Pilley stretched to the max. (Birmingham Athletic Club photo)
World #30 Coppinger looked strong in pulling off an upset of World #15 Alister Walker. The South African won in four games: 9-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-7. World #34 Beng Hee’s path to the semis came via a grueling, cramp-inducing, five-game marathon versus Cameron Pilley, with Beng Hee outlasted the Aussie: 8-11, 13-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5.
At one point during the match – after another in a seemingly endless series of lets – the visibly fatigued 31-year-old Malaysian jokingly asked: “How much is the Rolex again?”
The 1:42-minute match pleased top-seed Shorbagy, who will face the fatigued winner 24 hours later on Sunday. “It’s very, very good for me, I can say that,” said the World #6 who bested Miguel Angel Rodriguez 11-5, 11-9, 11-8. “I was enjoying watching that match.”
El Shorbagy was in total control of Rodriguez. (Birmingham Athletic Club photo)
Shorbagy and Beng Hee are familiar foes, having met 10 previous times – more than anyone else Shorbagy has played in his young career. He holds an 8-2 edge, the last meeting a two-hour survival contest at the November Macau Open. The 21-year-old Egyptian won that outing: 9-11, 12-10, 12-10, 15-17, 11-9.
“It’s going to be a good match,” Shorbagy said. “He has a 24-hour rest – maybe it’s not going to be good enough for him for tomorrow – but I’ll just try to get the job done and focus and try to win again in three if I can.”
Coppinger semifinal opponent is the entertaining World #14 Ashour, an 11-9, 11-8, 11-5 victor over qualifier and World #39 Max Lee. The Hong Kong native, in top form in recent months, upset Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan the previous night. But he was little match for the crafty Egyptian.
“I went on the court today, knowing I had to be super solid,” Ashour said. “I cannot go for any lazy, bad shots. I could not be soft. I was so on today, and he played so good, but I was still there every time. We had some massive rallies in the second game, but I think I’m happy to win in three because I felt really solid. It was a good game of squash.”
Ashour has won both his previous meetings against Coppinger. The semifinals begin at 4 p.m. with both matches on Court 3.
Saturday’s quarterfinal results:
- Shorbagy def. Rodriguez 11-5, 11-9, 11-8
- Beng Hee def. Pilley 8-11, 13-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5
- Coppinger def. Walker 9-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-7
- Ashour def. Lee 11-9, 11-8, 11-5
Sunday’s semifinal matches:
- Mohamed El Shorbagy vs. Ong Beng Hee
- Hisham Mohd Ashour vs. Stephen Coppinger