ISLAMABAD      -          Pakistan’s Farhan Mehboob came from behind to beat top seed Egyptian Youssef Ibrahim 3-2 in their semifinals of the Serena Hotels-Huawei Pakistan International Squash Tournament 2019 played here at Mushaf Squash Complex on Wednesday.

Tayyab Aslam thrashed Egyptian Mohamed ElSherbini 3-1 in the second semifinal to set up final date with Farhan Mehboob, making it all-Pakistan final. Farhan was up against top seed Youssef, who is presently world number 43 in the PSA rankings. In the first game, Youssef controlled the things and soon won it 11-8. The second game was played on a high tempo as both the players were playing superb squash and they were duly applauded by the pack-to-capacity crowd. Farhan had at least four clear-cut chances to wrap up the game, but he failed to take advantage and Youssef took it 16-14.

After losing two back-to-back games, Farhan bounced back in style and simply outclassed Youssef in the third game, winning it 11-2, fourth game by 11-5 while in the fifth game, the Egyptian first took 5-2 lead and then 7-4, but Mehboob, backed by massive crowd, played tremendously and first leveled the game at 7-7 and then took 10-7 lead. But Youssef saved three match points before Farhan woke up timely and won the next two points in a row to take the game 12-10, thus won the encounter in 54 minutes.

In the second semi-final, Tayyab Aslam was up against world no 51 Mohamed ElSherbini of Egypt. Tayyab never allowed ElSherbini any chance to settle down in the game and took the first game 11-6 but he lost concentration and also the second game 9-11. He then made a tremendous comeback and won the third game 11-9 and fourth 11-9 to set final meeting with Farhan Mehboob.

In the ladies $12,000 Serena Hotels-Huawei Pakistan International Squash Tournament 2019 semifinals, Egyptian Hana Moataz and Sabrina Sobhy of USA made it to the final after registering contrastive victories against their respective opponents. In the first ladies semifinal, Egyptian Hana Moataz beat compatriot Farida Mohamed 3-2 in 36 minutes. Hana won first game 11-7 and took the second 11-2, before Farida staged a comeback and won the third 11-9 and took the fourth as well by 11-3. She was leading 6-0 in the fifth game, but highly dubious refereeing by Muhammad Sajjad cost her the match, as she lost the fifth and decisive game 12-14.

In the second semifinal, USA’s world no 52 Sabrina Sobhy thrashed Egyptian Meena Hamed 3-0 in just 23 minutes. Sobhy was in sensational form as she had already won three PSA titles this year and she was not in a mood to let her opponent off the hook right from the word it go, as she took first game 11-6, won the second 11-9 and took the third 11-6 to register an easy victory. The final will be played soon after the ladies singles final, which will start at 2:45pm. Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) President Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan will grace the occasion as chief guest.

Meanwhile, highly pathetic refereeing by Muhammad Sajjad, who is a blue-eyed referee of PSF Director Referees Tahir Khanzada, cost Farida the final spot as the countless dubious calls went against her, who  was crying like a kid with tears falling from her eyes. She was highly upset and was hardly able to control her emotions. It was time and again mentioned by this scribe that the PSF must educate local referees and invite top class professional referees to conduct the PSA events in Pakistan, but no heed was paid and one day, such pathetic refereeing can bring bad name to the country.