Shorbagy comeback denies Boswell as Sobhy keeps US flag flying …
Qualification complete, the $115,000 PSA men’s division of the Delaware Investments U.S. Open kicked off at noon at the Daskalakis Athletic Center at Drexel University with eight men’s first round matches – the top half of the draw.
The opening session saw three qualifiers back on court soon after their successes last night, but Tom Richards, Daryl Selby and Hisham Ashour were in no mood to show mercy. The world rankings predicted a close match between Omar Mosaad and Cameron Pilley, ranked 14 and 16, but the Egyptian came through in three close games.
The evening’s entertainment featured three seeded Englishmen in Peter Barker, James Willstrop and top seed Nick Matthew, all of who progressed comfortably enough. It was a different tale for seventh seed Mohamed El Shorbagy though as the Egyptian found himself two games down to Australian Stewart Boswell, 13 years his senior. Youth prevailed in the end as El Shorbagy took the next three games to complete a day without seeding upsets.
Meanwhile on the traditional courts the $60,000 WISPA women’s event also had eight matches starting at noon as qualification for the biggest-ever Women’s US Open began. All the expected winners emerged, including the USA’s Amanda Sobhy, who, after a disappointing campaign for the hosts in the men’s qualifying, kept the US flag flying with a solid three-nil win over England’s Emma Beddoes.
Men’s Round One, Top Half :
Tom Richards (Eng) bt [Q] Tarek Momen (Egy) 7/11, 11/3, 11/9, 13/11 (61m)
Hisham Ashour (Egy) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (Sco) 11/8, 12/10, 9/11, 11/4 (49m)
Daryl Selby (Eng) bt [Q] Simon Rosner (Ger) 7/11, 11/5, 11/9, 11/3 (71m)
Omar Mosaad (Egy) bt Cameron Pilley (Aus) 11/9, 11/8, 11/8 (60m)
 Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [Q] Zac Alexander (Aus) 11/4, 11/5, 11/8 (50m)
 Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Stewart Boswell (Aus) 8/11, 9/11, 11/7, 11/5, 11/4 (64m)
 James Willstrop (Eng) bt Alister Walker (Bot) 11/9, 11/8, 12/10 (43m)
Women’s Qualifying Round One:
Donna Urquhart (Aus) bt Alex Clark (Sco) 11/8, 11/9 , 11/7 (24m)
Joey Chan (Hkg) bt Sabrina Sobhy (Usa) 11/5, 11/3, 11/6 (20m)
Victoria Lust (Eng) bt Sarah Kippax (Eng) 11/9, 11/8, 8/11, 8/11, 11/9 (65m)
Delia Arnold (Mas) bt Olivia Blatchford (Usa) 11/5, 11/7, 11/8 (26m)
Dipika Pallikal (Ind) bt Orla Noom (Ned) 11/8, 11/2, 11/6 (27m)
Low Wee Wern (Mas) bt Elpiniki Clement (Usa) 11/1, 11/6, 11/8 (22m)
Amanda Sobhy (Usa) bt Emma Beddoes (Eng) 11/3, 11/9, 11/2 (23m)
Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl) bt Olivia Fiechter (Usa) 11/5, 11/9, 11/5 (23m)
Richards first through
First on court were Englishman Tom Richards and Egyptian qualifier Tarek Momen, two players aged 25 and 23 who played each other a lot in their junior days, but were meeting for just the second time in PSA competition.
It was Momen who made the better start, pulling clear from 7-all to take the first game 11/7, but Richards struck back to level, Momen giving the game up once Richards had established an 8/2 lead.
Richards looked to be continuing in the same vein in the third, but his 7/1 advantage was eroded by some typically sharp Egyptian play, but Richards finally clinched it 11/9 to take the lead.
The fourth game was level all the way with both players fighting hard and moving swiftly around the McWil all glass court. Richards it was who managed to edge ahead, 10/9, 11/10 and 12/11 before finally clinching the match 13/11 in just over the hour.
“Tarek always used to beat me in juniors,” said Richards after the match, “so he probably had a psychological advantage going into the match. But I knew the way I wanted to play and I thought I executed it pretty well, apart from losing a bit of discipline in the middle.
“But I got through it and it worked out ok, I’m pretty pleased to win that one.”
Hisham gets his revenge
The second match was an archetypal “shotmaker v runner” affair, and today it was shotmaker Hisham Ashour who got the better ov Scottish qualifier Alan Clyne, gaining revenge for his defeat in Malaysia in their only previous meeting.
Not that Clyne is simply a runner, his rise up the rankings and significant recent wins prove otherwise as he develops into a feared opponent for anyone, but neither does the elder Ashour rely on hitting winner and the errors that comes with that approach these days. Clyne’s 84-minute qualifying final last night won’t have helped his cause either.
The Egyptian took the first after etablishing a 10/5 lead, hung on to a 7/3 lead to sneak the second, fell quickly 6/2 behind in the third and almost clawed his way back, then carried that momentum to take a decisive advantage in the fourth.
In particular, Hisham got the better of a brutal rally at 3/1 in the fourth, they type that Clyne often sees his opponents dissolve after, but Hisham held his own and it was the Scot who who could see the writing on the wall thereafter.
“I’m pretty happy with how I played,” said Ashour, “he’s a very tough opponent who can give anyone in the top 20 a lot of trouble. There was a bit of revenge on my mind for Malaysia, too, I knew I had to be 100% focused from the start and not give anything away.
“I haven’t won for the last two tournaments so I need to do well in this one and hopefully the wins will keep on coming.”
Selby sees off Rosner challenge
After an impressive series of wins for Germany in the World Teams in Paderborn, Simon Rosner has been on a high, and playing well with a lot of confidence. Further evidence of that came as he took the first game against Daryl Selby 11/7.
The Englishman, who had looked a little lethargic in the opener, upped his game to take the second , pulling away from 5-all to 11/5, then came from 4/8 down in the third, getting the better of a tense finish with plenty of lets to take the lead 11/9.
“It was a fine game, a tough match,” said Selby. “It was intense and fast, he got on top in the first, I reversed it in the second and the third was crucial. I heard him blowing a bit when he was 8/4 up, I managed to put in a few hard rallies and got back to take it.
“Simon’s defence has always been good but now his attack is up there too. It’s never easy having to play on a different court after two qualifying matches, but he was one of the toughest qualifiers to draw so I’m happy to get off with a 3/1.”
Mosaad and Barker in control
This was a first meeting between two of the tallest players on the tour, and it was Egyptian Omar Mosaad who, having recently overtaken Cameron Pilley in the rankings, beat the Australian in three close games which in truth he looked the likeliest winner throughout.
Pilley was always in touch, but couldn’t seem to find an answer to Mosaad’s power and reach – only in the third did he lead, albeit briefly, taking four points in a row from 4-7 down after the ball was lost out of court.
Mosaad soon got used to the new ball though, and took four points of his own to clinch a place in the second round.
Normally renowned for being quick out of the blocks, Olli Tuominen couldn’t get a foothold in the first two games as Barker dominated to win them 11/3, 11/2.
The Finn threatened to fly in the third, recovering from 6/9 to level at 9-all, but Barker soon clipped his wings to finish it off 11/9.
“I’ve played Olli a few times, he’s been a tough oppoent for everyone over the years, and he was one of my first big victories a few years back, so I’m happy to get off in three this time.”
Zac meets his match
That’s what Zac Alexander faced, and although top seed Nick Matthew won straight games, as you would expect, the youg Aussie acquitted himself well, never looking overawed and making Matthew work hard to make sure he didn’t have to play more than the three games.
“I’d heard of Zac as an upcoming player for a while, but never played him before,” admitted Matthew. “Coming out of the AIS I knew he’d move well and be a clean striker of the ball, so I wanted to make sure I started out strongly.
“It’s good to get a runout after the last tournament which didn’t finish too well for me, so I’ll enjoy the rest day and look forward to the next round. Omar is a strong player and you can see that if he can beat Cameron in straight games I can’t afford to take him lightly.”
Alexander was tired, but pleased with his day’s work: “I can’t feel my legs! He didn’t give me anything, like I expected, but I was impressed with his paly, he was even sharper than I expected him to be.”It’s been a tough few days, I’d like to thank my coach Rod Martin for all the work he’s done with me over the last few months in New York, it’s really helping me a lot.”
Shorbagy comeback stops Boswell
Pretty much outplayed for the first game and a half, seventh seed Mohamed El Shorbagy wasn’t doing himself any favours with unforced errors, but Stewart Boswell, the almost-veteran Aussie who was giving away 13 years to his opponent, thoroughly deserved his two-game lead.
Shorbagy started coming to terms with the match at the end of the second, but Boswell kept ahead, just. But it was pretty much one way traffic for the next three games as Shorbagy, playing much better now, took advantage of a tiring opponent.
“This is only my second World Series tournament of the year, and I was quite nervous at the start,” admitted the two-time world junior champion.
“I was pleased with my performance to come back and take the last three games.
“It should be a tough match with Tom tomorrow, I’ve beaten him a couple of times but he’s a much better player now and I think we’re going to have quite a few hard maches over the next few years …”
Willstrop rounds off the day
The day concluded with a straight-games win for third seed James Willstrop over his former England team-mate Alister Walker, now resident in the US and representing Botswana.It was never easy, but Willstrop was never headed and held firm as Walker closed twoards the end of each game.
“First rounds are never easy these days,” said the tall Yorkshireman, “and screlines often don’t reflect the nature of the match, like this one. We know plenty about each other, we’ve been playing since we were 12.
“It’s a similar story with Daryl next round, we’ve had some heavy matches so I’m looking forward to a rest day and getting as well prepared for that as I can.”
Lust wins all-English battle, Sobhy keeps US flag flying
The women’s competition started off with comfortable wins for Donna Urquhart and Joey Chan, two left-handers who will meet for a place in the main draw tomorrow.
Victoria Lust took an unexpected two-game lead over fellow-Englishwoman Sarah Kippax, but the higher-ranked Kippax struck back to level, all four games being closely contested.The decider was no different, but it was Lust who pulled away from 7-all to earn three match balls, taking it on her third opportunity.
“I like a good 3/2,” she quipped afterwards, “not really but it always seems to happen! That’s the highest-ranked player I’ve ever beaten though, so I have to be happy with that.
“I played really well in the first two then she tightened up. I managed to pull it back in the fifth, but at 7-all I felt the lace in my shoe break! I didn’t want to stop because I knew I couldn’t fix it, but it was on my mind in the last few points!”
Delia Arnold, Dipika Pallikal and Low Wee Wern all won comfortably enough, then the crowd swelled to see probably the match or the day between the USA’s Amanda Sobhy and England’s Emma Beddoes.
And they weren’t disappointed as the former world junior champion, now studying at Harvard, took Beddoes by surprise in the first game, then survived a close second before going on to win with increasing authority in the third.
“College is totally different from what I expected, I’m so glad I took that route rather than turning pro straight away. Now I have four years of team squash plus the whole social and academic experience, which I’m really enjoying already.
“I had to adjust to a new life in the first couple of weeks so squash and training took a back seat, but I’ve been putting some serious training in over the last two weeks, which I have to do if I’m playing in tournaments like this, and slowly but surely it’s coming back and getting better day by day.”
Sobhy remained the only US winner of the day though, as Jaclyn Hawkes rounded the matches off with a straight game win over Olivia Feichter to set up a meeting with Sobhy tomorrow.