ISLAMABAD-Awesome Farhan Mehboob and sensational Farhan Zaman moved into the semi-finals of the $25,000 Serena Hotels-Chief of the Air Staff International Squash Championship 2016, after registering contrasting victories against their respective opponents in the quarterfinals played here at Mushaf Squash Complex on Saturday.

It was a great day for Pakistan squash as both the Pakistanis played awesome squash and ensured no let ups this time around. In the past consecutive two events COAS Open and CNS Open, only one Pakistani player had managed to play in the semi-finals. Both Zaman and Mehboob were up against tough opponents but both prevailed to give Pakistan hope. Especially Mehboob is looking in sublime form and gaining confidence with each passing day. He, ranked 106 in the world, registered another highly upset victory this time against Englishman Nathan Luke, a world number 74. Despite being a qualifier instead of getting wild card for his abilities, Mehbooob never showed any signs of frustration or nerves and remained focused on helping country regain lost glory.

Mehboob took the first game 11-8 in 9 minutes. He could have easily won the game with much more authority but few crucial mistakes allowed Nathan breathing space. Mehboob took the second game with same 11-8 margin in 10 minutes. Once again after enjoying too much control, Mehboob started to commit mistakes, which helped Nathan in gaining some lost ground. After playing so well in the first two games, Mehboob lost momentum and got relaxed, which gave Nathan chance to dictate terms. Nathan took full advantage of the Mehboob’s leniency and took the third game 11-8 in 15 minutes. But it was all he could get from the match as Mehboob entered the 4th game with completely different mindset. He wasted very little time and took commanding 6-0 lead, but like in the first three games, he once again let Nathan off the hook. Nathan closed the gap and was breathing at his neck before Mehboob wake up and wrapped up the game 11-9 in 12 minutes to complete another wonderful victory and set semi-final date with second seed Egyptian Mohamed Reda.

While in the second quarterfinal, Zaman almost blew away the supreme authority as he gave too much respect to Egyptian Shehab Essam. Zaman enjoyed 2-0 lead and had at least 5 chances to finish the match but he looked so nervous that he almost surrendered the huge advantage and was at brink of elimination. Zaman took the first game 14-12. He was leading 9-6, but he allowed Shehab to close the gap before finally winning the game in 13 minutes. It was all Zaman in the second game winning 11-5 in just 7 minutes. As witnessed on so many occasions in the past, when on a roll, Zaman lose concentration same happened again as he looked casual, which gave Shehab chance to bounce back. Shehab wasted very little time to snatch third game 11-5 in 8 minutes. Zaman should kick himself not to win the 4th game despite having 10-6 lead. He allowed Shehab to stage remarkable comeback in the match. Shehab first levelled the game at 10-10 and then 16-14 to force the match into fifth and deciding game. Zaman, being given peace of mind by coach, entered the 5th game in different frame of mind. He kept the pressure right from the word go and took the game 11-7 to set semi-final date with top seed Leo Au of Hong Kong.

Earlier, top seed Leo Au overwhelmed Egyptian Youssef Soliman 3-0 in 48 minutes, winning 11-4, 11-8 and 11-9 while in the 4th and last quarterfinal, second seed Egyptian Mohamed Reda defeated compatriot Karim El-Hammamy 3-0 in 44 minutes, winning 11-9, 11-7 and 11-5.

The first semi-final between Leo Au and Farhan Zaman will be played at 3:00pm, while second semi-final between Farhan Mehboob and Mohamed Reda will be played at 4:00pm today.