Finals : Three in a row for Gohar as Elias takes men’s title
Diego Elias Nouran Gohar captured the 2022 U.S. Open titles after beatingAli Farag and Nour El Sherbini in the finals at Philadelphia’s Arlen Specter US Squash Center.
Elias has become the first Peruvian to win the prestigious after his fixture with two-time champion Farag was cut short after just two minutes due to an injury to the Egyptian. Farag, winner in 2017 and 2019, was carrying a knee problem sustained during his semi-final and couldn’t move properly during the first couple of rallies, resulting in him shaking hands with his opponent.
It’s Elias’s 12th PSA title and his second Platinum title, and his third tournament win of 2022.
“I’m happy but I just don’t know how to feel,” Elias said afterwards. “I feel very bad for him, I was ready for a big battle. I’m super happy, I just didn’t want it to be this way. I’m going to have a beer for sure, but I have a match on Wednesday at the Grasshopper Cup in Switzerland, so I can’t have too many.
Gohar became only the second player – after the legendary Nicol David – to win three U.S. Open titles in a row after she retained her title courtesy of an 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6 victory over El Sherbini, who is now a four-time runner-up at this tournament after final appearances in 2014, 2016 and 2018.
The U.S. Open is Gohar’s 19th PSA title and her second of the season – following last month’s South Western Women’s Open triumph – and her sixth of 2022.
“It’s so hard against Nour,” said Gohar afterwards. “She is the one who knows how to win titles even if she’s not playing her best. It’s more mental than anything with her and I was really happy with the way I played. It’s a joy to play against her, I actually missed our battles last year because it brings the best out of us both, she’s a great player and it was very enjoyable out there.
“Honestly, I don’t want to lose my No.1 spot under any circumstances, but when I think about the rankings too much, it’s extra pressure that I don’t need. I feel like I go into a tournament wanting to win because then I know I will get the maximum points, so I’m just focused on what’s in my hands and that’s all I think about.”
SEMIS : Elias Halts ElShorbagyas finalists decided in Philadelphia
Diego Elias became the first Peruvian to reach the U.S. Open final after overcoming three-time champion Mohamed ElShorbagy at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia, winning 12-10, 11-7, 11-6.
“I’m just very happy with my performance,” said Elias. “We’re now 5-5 in head to heads and it’s always very tough. He became a very good friend of mine and it’s always tough playing with him. I’m feeling great, I won yesterday and today 3-0 so I’m fresh. It’s a bit late but I think I can still recover pretty well and be ready for tomorrow.”
“He’s got all the weapons in his repertoire to hurt you with, so I’m really happy that I didn’t panic after the third and I kept my focus,” said Farag. “Usually I hit more aggressive length in the back corners, I hit it with more bite, but today because I knew I don’t want to tire myself out, it was a little bit more calculated. And that made the difference and that’s why I didn’t feel necessarily as tired at the end.”
The women’s title decider will be a familiar fixture, with top seeds Nouran Gohar and Nour El Sherbini locking horns for the 23rd time on the PSA World Tour, the 11th time they will meet in a PSA final.
“The commentators made me a bit angry predicting Nour would win,” said Gohar. “If I’m World No.1 and you’re not going to predict I’ll win, when will you? Just kidding, but obviously it kind of relieved a bit of the pressure. I felt that if everybody thinks that I’m not good enough to win today, it’s fine, I’m just going to prove them wrong. And I’m the kind of character who likes to challenge myself before challenging others.”
El Sherbini has her previous three U.S. Open finals – to Nicol David, Camille Serme and Raneem El Welily – but comes into her match with Gohar with a 16-6 lead on their head-to-head record having won their two previous matches.
“I think if I lost the second it was going to be tough for me, so I’m happy to get the win,” said El Sherbini. “I just focus on every match, it’s another final and the U.S. Open is the only [major] title I haven’t won, so I’m just looking forward to the final.”
Day SIX : ElShorbagy downs Coll to reach semis
Mohamed ElShorbagy moved into his seventh U.S. Open semi-final after overcoming second seed Paul Coll in an epic 90-minute thriller at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia.
ElShorbagy has already captured two events, winning at the QTerminals Qatar Classic and Oracle NetSuite Open, and although the in-form Englishman was slow to get going in the opening game, he powered through the next two to lead and although Coll levelled it was ElShorbagy who pulled away from 6-all in the decider.
The quality of ElShorbagy returned in the second game as he stepped up the court, volleying with power and purpose to keep Coll on the move constantly. His intense volleying, partnered with his relentless hitting to the back of the court, was allowing ElShorbagy to take away all of the World No.1’s threat in the front corners. ElShorbagy gave himself a well-deserved 2-1 lead, winning the second and third games 11-7, 11-8.
“There is a reason why I switched to play for England, it’s because I wanted to have a great team behind me” said ElShorbagy after his win. “Jade [the England physio] has been doing an incredible job on me this week. We will do a lot of work tonight on my body to come back fresh for tomorrow. I have so much trust in her, I have seen how she works and all the English guys, when I was playing Nickand Jamesand all these guys. So I can’t wait to come back tomorrow.”
ElShorbagy’s opponent in the last four will be Peru’s Diego Elias, who overcame Wales’ Joel Makin in straight games to advance to his second successive U.S. Open semi-final.
In the women’s draw, both higher-seeded players Joelle King and Nour El Sherbini secured their places in the semi-finals. King was first to advance as she ended home hopes by beating USA’s last remaining player in the draw, Sabrina Sobhy, in a close three-game clash 19-17, 11-9, 11-8.
“Sabrina is an incredible player. I’ve always known she’s had it in her with what she has produced this week, and I’m just extremely proud that I hung on top in that first game and I think that was probably the difference today.” said King afterwards.
Six-time World Champion Sherbini looked slightly injured in her round three match just two days ago but showed no signs of that ankle injury as she confidently moved into the last eight by beating compatriot Salma Hany in the final match of the night’s action 11-7, 11-5, 11-5.
Day FIVE : El Tayeb ends home hopes in Philly
Nour El Tayeb ended home hopes at the 2022 U.S. Open after she overcame US #1 Amanda Sobhy to join husband Ali Farag in the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour Platinum event held at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center.
El Tayeb and Farag made history at the 2017 U.S. Open when they became the first married couple to win a major sporting title on the same day. Both are one win away from a place in the finals once again, with El Tayeb producing a magnificent performance to dispatch Sobhy by an 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 scoreline.
“I’ve made the finals of the all tournaments I have played in the US,” said El Tayeb, who also reached the final of this tournament in 2015 and 2019. “I like the indoor courts, in Egypt it’s always outdoors, which I guess I don’t like very much. But I like the courts here. I like the atmosphere, I like the crowd, so hopefully, I can keep going. The semis is nice, but I’ve done that already this season, so hopefully I can push it one round further than this.”
The other women’s quarter-final saw top seed Nouran Gohar come from a game down to beat Rowan Elaraby. Gohar, who has won the previous two U.S. Opens, will take on El Tayeb next for a 16th time on the PSA World Tour and has won 10 of their previous meetings.
“Other players have no pressure entering the court with me,” said Gohar. “They have nothing to lose. Winning games is something good and I’ve been in their place once before and I know how it feels playing against World No.1s, it gives you extra excitement and you want to show the world why you’re good, so I’m just enjoying it.”
“I think both of us came up against some very tough opponents,” said Farag. “We’ve played some of our best squash of the week so far, and we couldn’t be happier going home tonight.”
“Me and Youssef are very good friends off court and it was a tricky match because we only played once and he’s beaten me before,” said ElShorbagy. “I’m just really happy to be so focused from the beginning and so sharp. I found my rhythm and felt my length was really good today and I’m really happy with the way I’ve been hitting the ball. I played well and it was a good match, I thought.”
Day FOUR : Sabrina stuns Hania to join big sis in semis
Sabrina Sobhy reached the quarter-finals of a Platinum event for the first time after she stunned second seed Hania El Hammamy at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center to join older sister Amanda in the last eight.
It marks the first time that two American women will line up in the U.S. Open quarter-finals as Sobhy put in a sensational performance to claim the biggest win of her career, while also ending El Hammamy’s run of three successive Platinum title wins.
Sobhy’s reward for her 11-8, 13-15, 11-7, 11-9 victory is a last eight clash with fifth seed Joelle King – a player she hasn’t beaten in six previous appearances.
“I haven’t processed it yet,” said Sobhy, who lives just 10 minutes away from the Specter Center. “It’s been very fast-paced since the end of the match. I felt still and in the present, but there has been a whirlwind of emotions ever since the match ended. I can’t even express how proud I am of myself and how composed I felt on court. It’s a feeling that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”
Third seed Nour El Sherbini put in a performance befitting her ‘Warrior Princess’ nickname as she recovered from a nasty injury and fought through the pain barrier to reach the quarters at the expense of Wales’ Tesni Evans.
The Egyptian raced through the first 11-1 but then slipped at 6-6 in the second and looked in real pain as she required physio treatment. Sporting an ankle brace and strapping around her right ankle, she played on but found it hard to move around court as Evans took the second 11-7 and the third 11-2. El Sherbini somehow managed to survive, taking the fourth 11-6 and the decIder 11-2 in just under an hour of play.
“The ankle’s not very bad, but I have to check it tomorrow,” said El Sherbini. “I have a day off tomorrow, so I’ll try and treat it and hopefully I’ll be ready after tomorrow. I’ve been put in this situation many times. I have experience of playing with injuries and hopefully I’m going to recover and be ready for the rest of the week.”
El Sherbini will take on eighth seed Salma Hany for a place in the semi-finals after she dispatched USA’s Olivia Clyne in three games.
In the men’s event Paul Coll and Mohamed ElShorbagy will lock horns in the quarter-finals following wins over India’s Ramit Tandon and Egypt’s Moustafa El Sirty. The pair will go head-to-head for the 16th time on the PSA World Tour and, while ElShorbagy has the better of their record with 10 wins to Coll’s five, the New Zealander has won four of their last five matches.
The other quarter-finasl in the men’s bottom half will be between Peru’s Diego Elias and Welshman Joel Makin who beat France’s Baptiste Masotti and Egypt’s Fares Dessouky.
Day THREE : Soliman shocks Hesham as Amanda Sobhy and seven Egyptians reach the quarters …
Egypt’s Youssef Soliman produced a sublime performance on day three of the U.S. Open to defeat eighth seed and compatriot Mazen Hesham to move into his second Platinum event quarter final at the Arlen Specter Squash Centre in Philadelphia.
“I’m very pleased,” said Soliman. “I just had not the best performance in San Francisco, but all credit to Aly [Abou Eleinen], he really made it hard for me to bounce back in this tournament. I played well against Kandra and again with Mazen and to beat Mazen in three is not easy, I had to push hard, especially in the beginning, but I think I got my tactics right and I’m happy with my performance more than the win.”
Soliman’s quarter final match will be another all-Egyptian encounter as he will take on Marwan ElShorbagy. The younger ElShorbagy brother received a bye in round three with France’s Lucas Serme unable to compete in the match due to his injury sustained in his round two match with Mostafa Asal.
The other men’s quarter final match in the top half of the draw will be another all-Egyptian battle between top seed Ali Farag and sixth seed Tarek Momen as they defeated Miguel Rodriguez and Saurav Ghosal.
Rodriguez defeated Farag in the recent Qatar Classic but couldn’t repeat that as Farag closed out the match in straight games. Momen booked his place in the quarter finals in similar fashion to Farag as he cruised to a commanding two-game lead against India’s Ghosal and held on to take the third 14-12.
In the women’s draw Nour El Tayeb closed out day three with a seeding upset over England’s Sarah-Jane Perry on Glass Court East, requing just 24 minutes to record an 11-3, 11-3, 11-8 victory to move into the quarters.
“I think today was one of my best performances since my comeback,” said El Tayeb.”I think SJ didn’t play very well, so it was a mixture of things. It’s a big confidence boost to play well against someone like SJ. I don’t like to play against each other because our games are a little bit similar, I don’t like her style of play, it’s not my favourite to play against.
El Tayeb’s quarter final opponent will be home favourite Amanda Sobhy who confidently overcame South Africa’s unseeded Alexandra Fuller to progress to the last eight.
“Nour and I are 1-1 this so far this season, the rivalry just comes right back. I think we have great matches and, you know, she loves to smash racket a on her leg against me. So maybe we’ll go for racket number 10 on Wednesday.”
Top seed Nouran Gohar advanced to the quarter finals in just 23 minutes as she beat compatriot Yathreb Adel in straight games, Adel forced to withdraw due to injury in the middle of the third. Gohar will face fellow Egyptian andseventh seed Rowan Elaraby in the last eight after the younger Egyptian defeated Belgium’s Nele Gilis in a 55-minute four-game battle.
Day TWO : Defending champ Asal out as three US women advance
Defending champion Mostafa Asal has exited this year’s edition of the PSA World Tour Platinum tournament, disqualified after hitting Lucas Serme with the Frenchman unable to continue and being awarded the match.
Asal – who last year became the youngest winner in the history of the U.S. Open – was cruising with a two-game lead and was 6-4 up when he turned on a loose ball at the back of the court and then hit Serme – who was ducking – in the head with the ball.
The match referee deemed it to be an opponent-inflicted injury which was caused accidentally by Asal. This meant that Lucas was permitted 15 minutes to recover. The physio then deemed Serme to be unable to continue, requiring further medical examination, resulting in the match being awarded to Serme. Lucas received treatment at a hospital and has suffered a concussion and a perforated eardrum, and will hopefully recover in time to take on Marwan ElShorbagy in Round Three..
“I did well in the first, in the second he came back more strongly, but I’m glad I got away with the second and finished it off in three,” said Farag, who suffered a shock defeat to Rodriguez in the Qatar Classic third round. “They are different conditions [to his match against Rodriguez in Qatar] but it’s always exciting to play someone after you lose to them. There is some nervous energy going into it, but you try and live up to these challenges. We know each other’s game inside out, but hopefully I come out on top this time.”
Rodriguez ended US hopes in the men’s event as he took out Todd Harrity in straight games. Elsewhere, World #1 Paul Coll began his tournament with a 3-0 win over France’s Sebastien Bonmalais, while Peru’s Diego Elias and three-time champion Mohamed ElShorbagy also opened up with wins, beating Switzerland’s Dimitri Steinmann and Spain’s Iker Pajares
In the women’s event, history will be made when three American women line up together in the third round for the first time following wins from Olivia Clyne and the Sobhy sisters, Amanda and Sabrina.
Clyne has reached the last 16 of this event for the first time since 2018 after she upset in-form Farida Mohamed in the last match of the day, and she will line up against eighth seed Salma Hany for a place in the last eight.
“It feels incredible,” said Clyne. “It’s not the win, although that feels amazing, and I’m so excited to be on the glass court on Tuesday and yes, being surrounded by my family and friends is incredible. But it was being the last match on with the whole back wall being packed and 99.9% of the people cheering for me and the atmosphere was electric. I felt that for the first time in a long time, I was so present in each rally and even when things went wrong I was really there.”
“It’s the first match in after a quick turnaround from San Francisco, so I’m just happy to win in three and have the the support of the home crowd and my coach here as well as friends and family,” said Amanda. “I’m loving squash at the moment, I love playing, I’m healthy, I’m having fun out there, I like where my squash is at and I feel really confident in my team. I’m just trying to enjoy every challenge and every opportunity that this season gives me.”
Amanda’s younger sister Sabrina booked her place in the next round beating Canada’s Hollie Naughton in a five-game thriller to reach the last 16 for the first time.
Reigning champion Nouran Gohar began her title challenge with a 3-0 win against Wales’ Emily Whitlock, while there were also wins for her fellow members of the world’s top three, Hania El Hammamy and Nour El Sherbini.
Day ONE : Pajares Survives Brownell Test as US trio advance
Spain’s Iker Pajares came back from two match balls down to avoid an upset against wildcard Timothy Brownell as the U.S. Open got under way at Philadelphia’s Arlen Specter US Squash Center.
Philadelphia-based Brownell was cheered on to the rafters by his home fans and almost sent them home happy after he come from 2-1 down and stormed to an 8-2 lead in the decider before Pajares recovered to taje the fifth 13-11.
“I’m over the moon with this win,” said Pajares, who will take on three-time U.S. Open champion Mohamed ElShorbagy next. “After being 8-2 down in the fifth, I saw myself going home. I kept fighting to 8-8 and then it was 10-8 and I came back again to take the match. It was a fair and clean match, he’s a good player and I enjoyed every minute on court.”
The sole American man who claimed a day one victory was Todd Harrity, who won an all-American battle with Spencer Lovejoy, earning a 12-10, 11-8, 11-5 victory to set up a meeting with Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez next. The other men from the USA in action on day one were Shahjahan Khan and Faraz Khan, but they saw their tournaments come to an end against Dimitri Steinmann and Patrick Rooney.
In the women’s event USA duo Sabrina Sobhy and Olivia Clyne booked their spots in the last 32 with wins over Haley Mendez and Ka Yi Lee.
Sobhy dominated proceedings against Mendez and duly completed an 11-1, 11-6, 11-3 victory to set up a second round encounter with Canada’s Hollie Naughton.
“I felt pretty good with my performance,” said Sobhy. “The atmosphere being at home took a lot of the pressure off and I tried to focus on relaxing on court because I felt a bit tense at the previous tournaments. I tried to stay calm and control my emotions and the ball around the court more.”
Egypt’s Nadine Shahin completed a huge comeback against wildcard Lucie Stefanoni to avoid a shock defeat. 18-year-old Stefanoni had already competed in the first round of the Arlen Specter Philadelphia Junior Championships earlier in the day but caught Shahin off guard to take 2-0 lead.
“I was nervous and I didn’t really give the match its worth,” said Shahin. “I was just thinking about the second match, which was really unprofessional from me. I disregarded Lucie’s athleticism, spirit and talent. I always forget that the up-and-coming juniors are so hungry, they have nothing to lose and they play very well.”
Stefanoni’s older sister Marina was also in action but she fell to Hong Kong’s Chan Sin Yuk in the final match of the day.
Preview : Forty-Ninth U.S. Open to Commence on Saturday at Specter Center
The stage is set for the forty-ninth U.S. Open Squash Championships as the world’s best squash players descend on the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia.
The opening weekend of matches will see the first two rounds contested on four courts simultaneously at the Specter Center including both glass courts and courts 7 and 15 with match play starting at 12pm ET both days.
Twelve Americans are involved in first round action and will hope to harness the home crowd’s support. The opening day schedule includes two all-American matches between Todd Harrity and wild card Spencer Lovejoy at 12:45pm on the east glass court, and Sabrina Sobhy against Haley Mendez at 6pm on the east glass court. Harvard’s Marina Stefanoni will face off with Columbia’s Chan Sin Yuk in a college squash showcase on the west glass court at 7:15pm.