Coll and Sherbini win their first US Open titles in Philadelphia
Paul Coll ended the 14-match winning run of top seed Ali Farag at Philadelphia’s Arlen Specter US Squash Center to claim his first US Open title – the first Kiwi to win the men’s title for 37 years.
Coll hadn’t beaten Farag in his previous three attempts – including a five game, 96-minute battle in last month’s Paris Squash semi-finals – but after going two games up held off Farag’s comeback to take the decider 12-10 for his 21st PSA title and his first Platinum silverware since the 2022 British Open.
“I thought I had it after the second, but I got way too excited and saw the finish line way too early,” said Coll afterwards. “I thought he was struggling, but he came back at me and his mentality is a joke.
“I couldn’t believe the way he reset, I needed to be more solid and I needed to finish him. I’m very happy to close the fifth out like that, my legs felt like concrete.
“It’s nice to play like that after last season. The win is great, but the whole week has been amazing for me.”
Women’s top seed El Sherbini finally got her hands on the U.S. Open trophy after four previous final defeats as she beat Hania El Hammamy in straight games.
El Sherbini lost out to El Hammamy in the QTerminals Qatar Classic final last month but got her revenge to lift her 36th PSA title and her second of the season following her win at the Paris Squash in September.
“Hania wasn’t playing her best, but I had my chances and I didn’t want to give her any cheap points,” said El Sherbini afterwards.
“I think I played well and maybe that’s why she wasn’t at her best, but she kept fighting until the last point. I felt she wanted to win so much, and I have a little bit more experience than her, so I was more relaxed.”
Coll downs Elias as home hopes ended in Philadelphia
New Zealand’s Paul Coll became the first man from New Zealand to reach the U.S. Open final since Ross Norman in 1986 as he came from 1-2 down to end the title defence of Peru’s Diego Elias at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center.
Coll will line up in his first Platinum in just over a year, and as then his opponent will be Ali Farag after the top seed survived a third-game match ball to beat 2021 runner-up Tarek Momen.
“I’ve had an off-season for the first time in three years, so I put in some work, the body’s feeling the best it’s felt in three years, I’ve put in a good two months and that’s been crucial,” said Coll. “I was trying to be more aggressive with everything I did in terms of volleying. You could see when Diego slow balled me down that backhand, his control was so good and I couldn’t do anything and I got stuck behind him and he picks me off. I was trying not to get stuck there and shift it a bit better than I normally shift it.”
Farag advanced to his seventh successive Platinum final, and had lost just once in his last 36 matches and was on a 10-match winning run against Momen, who had ended a 12-match losing streak against Mohamed ElShorbagy to reach the semis.
“It’s not hard to put 110 per cent in, in front of this amazing crowd,” said Farag, who is aiming to win a fifth consecutive Platinum event. “But then you come up against an unbelievable player in Tarek. I saw him play so well the other day and I thought that I was ready for it, but I wasn’t. In the first two I was outplayed, probably in the third as well, and I got a little lucky today.”
Top seeded Egyptian duo Nour El Sherbini and Hania El Hammamy will meet in the women’s final after they sent US pair Olivia Fiechter and Amanda Sobhy out of their home event on semi-finals day.
It was the first time in the tournament’s storied history that two women from the United States were lining up in the last four of the U.S. Open, but Fiechter saw her tournament come to an end after losing in four games to Sherbini, as Sobhy did against Hammamy.
“Olivia’s improved a lot from the beginning of the season, she’s been playing really well and beating Nour and Salma is amazing,” El Sherbini said afterwards. “She was definitely playing well, but I wasn’t playing well. I don’t know why I dropped off, but I’m glad I came back and stuck to my game plan.”
El Hammamy, set to face Sherbini in a second successive Platinum final, credited former World No.1 and World Champion Laura Massaro for the work the two have been doing off court, saying: “I know how much experience she has and how tough she was when going through experiences like this. I thought that she would be a great supporter for me and I’m very happy and excited to have her on board.”
Fiechter downs Tayeb to join Sobhy in Semis
There will be two women from the United States competing in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open for the first time Olivia Fiechter upset fourth seed Nour El Tayeb to join compatriot Amanda Sobhy in the last four.
Fiechter was a semi-finalist here at the U.S. Open in 2021 and the 28-year-old was roared on by a passionate home crowd at Philadelphia’s Arlen Specter US Squash Center.
“Nour hits the ball with great weight,” said Fiechter. “On this court, if you let the ball come back, it’s so deadly back there. I was trying to cut that off, take it around the middle and stay in front of her as much as I could.”
Fiechter’s semi-final opponent will be World #1 Nour El Sherbini, who came within five points of being eliminated by England’s Gina Kennedy before she turned the match around.
“I needed this match to get some momentum and a testing match before the semis,” said El Sherbini. “I have no idea why I haven’t won this tournament – I tried four times with different people, I lost to Raneem, Nicol, Camille and Nouran. Inshallah this time it will happen.”
Defending champion Diego Elias won through to the last four after he battled to a 3-1 victory against England’s Marwan ElShorbagy. Elias had scored comfortable straight games victories in his last two matches against ElShorbagy, but could have been two games down had ElShorbagy been able to convert his game ball opportunity in the opening game.
“We were both playing at a very high pace, so I knew at some point he was going to drop off and I played a bit smarter in the last couple of games,” said Elias. “I noticed today that he was a lot more aggressive from the first few rallies. I knew it was going to be a different time to the matches where I won in ToC and Pittsburgh more comfortably.”
Elias’s opponent will be Paul Coll after the Kiwi fourth seed he came from 2-1 down to defeat Mazen Hesham. extending his winning run over the Egyptian to seven matches.
“I felt like I was getting myself into really good positions, but I was over hitting my length, under hitting my length, hitting the side wall and I kept giving him a good position when I was in a good position,” Coll said.
Sobhy survives as Momen end losing run to reach semis
Egyptian veteran Tarek Momen ended a 12-match losing run against Mohamed ElShorbagy while home favourite Amanda Sobhy edged past teen sensation Amina Orfi on the first night of quarter-final action at Philadelphia’s Arlen Specter US Squash Center
“I’m very happy with today’s performance,” Momen said. “I feel like it’s been a long time coming. I had to push myself and I worked so hard in the summer. Everyone thinks I’m 35 and the curve is going down and I knew this wasn’t the case. I needed to prove to myself that I can get back to where I was.”
Momen’s semi-final opponent will be top seed Ali Farag after he got the better of Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez in an entertaining four-game battle.
“He mixes it up really well, he’s as fit as ever, but he’s got more tactically smart as he’s grown older, which is a nightmare for all of us,” said Farag. “I managed to put the ball away well at the beginning of the third which gave me confidence and momentum for the fourth. Today was the best squash I’ve played all week, I think.”
US #1 Sobhy will line up in the semi-finals of the women’s event for the first time since 2016 after she came from the brink of elimination from 1-2 and 1-6 down to end the run of Egypt’s teenage sensation Amina Orfi.
“Since moving down to Florida I’ve put a really good training block in, I’ve been working with Wael El Hindi, we have a good team and set up down there. I have something to fall back on, so even when I’m 6-1 down I’m okay.”
“I’m over the moon to win against Nele, especially in three because she’s so physical, we both are,” said El Hammamy. “We both went to the wire and it was a matter of who could execute their plan better and stick to it. I tried to remind myself of the things I needed to do to reduce the running a little bit and I’m glad I managed to do that.”
Quarter-Finalists settled in Philadelphia
After a second evening of Round Three action in Philadelphia the quarter-finalists in the bottom half of the draws were settled, with all eight matches going with seeding.
“That’s the first time I’ve beaten Salma,” said Fiechter. “I knew it was going to be really challenging, she’s a great player and I’m really happy with that performance. I feel like I’m moving the best I’ve ever moved thanks to the work over so many years, but particularly this summer I definitely put a lot of work into it.”
Top seed Sherbini, looking to add the only major title missing from her collection, eased past compatriot Nada Abbas and will meet Gina Kennedy in the quarters after the English seventh seed squeezed past Rowan Elaraby 12-10 in the fifth.
The men’s matches were all completed in straight games as Paul Coll, Mazen Hesham, Marwan ElShorbagy and Diego Elias advanced to the last eight.
Day THREE : Orfi ousts King in massive upset
Egypt’s teen sensation Amina Orfi produced the biggest upset of her burgeoning career as she downed New Zealand’s third seed Joelle King in four games – tt the age of 16 years and three months becoming the youngest player ever to reach the quarter-finals of a PSA Platinum event.
Orfi, the double World Junior Champion, had a game ball in the opening game which King took 13-11, but stormed back to win the next three to seal the victory.
“I can’t believe it, I came into this match with no expectations,” said Orfi. “I learnt lessons in Paris and Qatar, I played point by point and the results just came. I had to take care of her experience, she’s been on court way more than me, so when she’s tired she knows how to manage the game very well. I had to play my best shots because when they were in the middle she put them away.”
Orfi now meets home favourite Amanda Sobhy, the fifth seed despatching Zeina Mickawy in straight games. Second seed Hania El Hammamy overcame Belgium’s Tinne Gilis in four games and now meets elder sister Nele, who beat Katie Malliff in three.
In the men’s event US hopes came to an end as England’s Mohamed ElShorbagy took out the country’s top ranked male player Timothy Brownell in straight games, setting up a clash with eighth seed Tarek Momen who eased past Nicolas Mueller.
Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez got the better of fellow 9/16 seed Youssef Soliman in five games and now meets top seed Ali Farag who won his all-Egyptian matchup with Aly Abou Elinen in four games.
Sun 8th, Day TWO : Brownell makes a bit of history
World No. 50 Timothy Brownell has become the first man from the United States to reach the third round of the U.S. Open in the softball era after he overcame teammate Shahjahan Khan at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia.
The U.S. Open is celebrating its fiftieth staging and has only been held as a softball tournament since 1985. Since then, no American man has been able to make it beyond the second round, until Brownell completed a 12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 18-16 victory against Khan in eighty-four minutes.
“He did not give up, I really thought I could pull away but he changed the game plan and really turned the jets on,” Brownell said. I really couldn’t put the ball away at the end, he was willing to leave it all out there. He was tidy, wasn’t making any errors and I’m just really happy to go through.”
Brownell will face three-time U.S. Open champion Mohamed ElShorbagy on Monday after he overcame Mohamed ElSherbini in a close four-game encounter.
Fiechter, a Philadelphia native, dispatched England’s Jasmine Hutton in twenty-five minutes. The Germantown Friends and Princeton graduate will face Egypt’s Salma Hany in the third round on Tuesday.
Sobhy, the tournament’s fifth seed, defeated U.S. teammate Olivia Blatchford Clyne in thirty-one minutes.
“We’ve been playing each other since we were eleven so we know our games inside out and I want to go in there and preparing for the next match and focusing on the feel of the court and finding my targets,” Sobhy said. “I’m happy to get the win today. I’ve built up a good friend group here and my family is here. Apart from Nationals they get to see me live so even though I live in Florida I’m so pumped to see them and they’re all super stoked to see me play.”
Sobhy will feature again on Monday evening against Egypt’s Zeina Mickawy.
Elsewhere in the draws, the evergreen Colombian veteran Miguel Rodriguez upset seventh seed Victor Crouin in the main men’s seeding upset of the second round, with England’s Adrian Waller ousting 9/16 seed Iker Pajares in five games and fourth and eighth seeds Paul Coll and Tarek Momen both needed all five games to advance.
In the women’s draw Egyptians Amina Orfi and Nada Abbas and England’s Katie Malliff all despatched 9/16 seeds.
Sat 7th, Day ONE : American trio advance in Philly
There was triple home success on the opening day as Marina Stefanoni, Timothy Brownell and Shahjahan Khan all won through to Round Two on a day which saw 32 first round matches and 7 seeding upsets at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia.
Stefanoni claimed her second-ever US Open win as she beat Egypt’s Mariam Metwally in straight games to set up a meeting with fourth seed Nour El Tayeb.
“I wasn’t expecting anything, I don’t get to play many of the Platinum events, so I’ve been excited to play this,” Stefanoni said. “I absolutely love that court as well. It was tough towards the end, it was an unfortunate end on a no let call, but I’m very happy to win in three and save the body a bit.”
“It feels amazing to win here at home. I came up short last year against Iker Pajares so I was getting deja vu.”
“It was really nerve-racking,” Khan said. “I’ve played Karim so many times and the last time was four games and this one was tougher because we’ve played each so many times, but I came out on top of it and I played the important points really well, which was really key for me.”
The US pair will meet in Round Two, with their match being shifted to the glass court. Meanwhile US Nationals finalists Andrew Douglas and Spencer Lovejoy both went down in five games, England’s Adrian Waller squeezed past Todd Harrity in four, and wildcards Zane Patel and Lucie Stefanoni fell in straight games.
In the other matches that went the distance Omar Mosaad survived as he edged past Curtis Malik, and Grace Gear ousted Melissa Alves. Asian Games gold medalist Siva Subramaniam was another upsetting the seedings as she beat Alexandra Fuller
Day Two sees the top 16 seeds enter the fray, with 32 Round Two matches across four courts including another all-American matchup between Amanda Sobhy and Olivia Clyne.
The next PSA Platinum event takes place from 7th to 14th October in Philadelphia …
Defending champions Nouran Gohar and Diego Elias open their title defences on opposite sides of the draw as the top and second seeds. Update 05-Oct : Gohar w/d injured
Gohar will aim to make U.S. Open history by becoming the first four-time women’s champion, but will need to make it through a top half of the draw that includes world #4 Joelle King and all four top-twenty-ranked American women – Amanda Sobhy, Olivia Fiechter, Olivia Blatchford Clyne and Sabrina Sobhy.
Amanda Sobhy and Blatchford Clyne will put on an All-American showcase for the home fans on Sunday evening – their first match up at the U.S. Open. Fiechter, a Philadelphia native, awaits one of two talented young Egyptians in either Amina Orfi or Fayrouz Abouelkheir, and a potential third round match against four seed Joelle King.
Sabrina Sobhy will face a difficult second round test against on a top ten player for a second year in a row. Last year, Sobhy produced one of the biggest results of her career to defeat world No. 3 Hania El Hammamy, and the twenty-six-year-old will need to produce the same level of squash to beat Belgian world No. 7 Nele Gilis.
Seven-time world champion Nour El Sherbini will begin her pursuit for the only major title in the sport that still eludes her as the second seed, and a potential semifinal rematch against Hania El Hammamy.
Elias, the only South American to win the trophy in the event’s history, is seeded to face fourth seed Paul Coll in the semi-finals, and will open up his tournament against either Team USA’s Faraz Khan or Columbia graduate Ramit Tandon in the second round.
After conceding the U.S. Open final due to injury last year, two-time U.S. Open, top seed and world #1 Ali Farag will face a challenging opening match against a resurgent Karim Abdel Gawad. Three-time champion and Mohamed ElShorbagy will have the chance to become just the second four-time champion alongside Peter Nicol, and joins Farag in the top half of the draw.
Ten Americans will be in action on opening day, Saturday 7th October.
Wildcards Madison Ho and Zane Patel