Egyptian hat-trick on Day Eight in Drexel
Day Eight of the U.S. Open Squash Championships presented by Macquarie Investment Management saw four more quarterfinal matches on the ASB Glass Court at Philadelphia’s Drexel University as the semifinalists in the bottom halves of the Men’s and Women’s PSA World Series draws were decided.
There were three Egyptian winners on the night — although with two all-Egyptian clashes that’s not especially surprising.
In the semis King will meet second seeded Raneem El Welily, who finished strongly to beat compatriot Nouran Gohar, also in four games, to reach her fourth U.S. Open semifinal in six years.
Omar Mosaad continued to impress as the 2015 finalist ended the run of in-form Peruvian youngster Diego Elias in four tough games, assuring an Egyptian men’s finalist.
The final match of the round was possibly the best, with fourth seed Ali Farag recording a second successive five game win against a fellow Egyptian, this time twice coming from a game down to deny Fares Dessouky.
Semifinals start at 5pm on Friday.
Joelle King produced a second seeding upset as she beat Alison Waters in four games in the opening match of the night.
The first game was close all the way, neither player dominating and both throwing in the odd error. From 7-all King moved ahead, taking the lead 11-9 on a with a no let to Waters on a King drive.
Thereafter the match went in two spells – Waters quickly taking a 10-3 lead in the second, but only leveling 11-8 after a King comeback. The Kiwi took that momentum into the third, racking up a 9-0 lead before finishing it off 11-2.
King wasn’t doing anything spectacular, but Waters just couldn’t get back into the match, her error count and frustration rising.
King advanced to 8-2 in the fourth, clinching a place in her third U.S. Open semifinal 11-3.
When asked if her win over defending champion Serme helped her confidence King said:
“Camille is a great player, so if you beat her you know you’re playing well, but you just have to forget that and get yourself up for the next opponent.
“Alison and I have had some battles over the years, today was my day. I lost my way a little in the second, I just had to refocus and go back to playing my game, and it worked.”
Former world No. 3 Omar Mosaad stopped the momentum of rising star Diego Elias in the first men’s quarterfinal of the evening.
Mosaad’s resurgence in form this tournament was once again in full force as the Egyptian controlled the match against his twenty-year-old opponent.
After dropping the first game, Elias started finding his accuracy and cut down on his errors to level the match at one game all. Mosaad regained control of the match, slotting in winners to take the third and was poised to run away with the match up 8-3 in the fourth.
Down 8-3 and sustaining a turned ankle, Elias appeared to be down and out. Seemingly out of nowhere, Elias dug in to level the game at 9-all and fought off one ensuing match ball to level at 10-all.
“I want to thank everyone for coming today,” Mosaad said. “I really enjoy playing here and I enjoyed the crowd as well. I love playing in Philly and the atmosphere here. I’m really happy to be here and reach the semifinal for the second time.”
Currently ranked world No. 31, Mosaad nearly entered the tournament as a qualifier, but moved into the main draw following the withdrawals of Gaultier and Ashour. The twenty-nine year old has been a force to be reckoned with this week as he targets a second U.S. Open final appearance.
“You can see his level of play. I was just thinking about it in the match. I started winning and I was in qualification, but I moved into the main draw because Ramy and Greg pulled out.
“I’m really happy to be in the semifinal and I’ll take this opportunity to talk to my coaches and everyone around me, my fiancé, and my family. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and see you tomorrow.”
Raneem El Welily won an all-Egyptian battle with Nouran Gohar to reach her fourth U.S. Open semifinal in six years.
There was nothing to choose between the pair in the first three games, with Welily’s touch game countered and matched by Gohar’s power. It was Gohar who had the first opportunity but it took her three game balls to take the lead 13-11. Welily pulled ahead from 7-all in the second to level 11-7, then saved a game ball in the third to take the lead 12-10.
Second seeded Welily made a great 4-0 start to the fourth, and although Gohar reduced the errors, the end came quickly as Welily continued to control the play and she reeled off the last few points with aplomb to set up a semifinal against Joelle King.
“Nouran is not an easy player,” said El Welily. “We’re teammates and we also play for the same club, so we know each other’s game quite well but everyone goes on court with a different attitude and a different personality.
“It was a really tough match for me. Before the match Mosaad and Diego looked like they were about to finish so I stopped warming up and then they took a while to finish and I just felt a bit flat on court.
“But I’m glad I pushed through that and found a way to win, and I’m happy to be in the semis again.”
The final quarterfinal of the tournament produced perhaps the match of the tournament in an All-Egyptian showdown between Ali Farag and Fares Dessouky. The five-game, eighty-seven-minute affair was full of momentum shifts, logic-defying retrievals, nicks and marathon rallies.
The first three games were fast and furious, which both players attributed to the ball, prompting a ball change after the third game. Dessouky entered the fourth game with a 2-1 lead in games and earned a 7-4 advantage in the fourth. A vocal Farag spurred himself on to win the fourth, slotting in a few nicks along the way and converting on his second game ball 12-10.
The decisive fifth saw Farag cut down an early Dessouky lead to level at 6-all. A few crucial errors from Dessouky separated the score, ultimately clinching a second consecutive five-game victory for Farag and a standing ovation for both players.
“The people I want to thank most today is the crowd,” Farag said.
“It’s great that everyone is here on a weekday, you guys give us the courage play and to keep fighting on. Today was pretty tough conditions. The first three games were playing with fire, the ball was flying everywhere and Fares dealt with it better than I did.
“Even after we changed the ball and it was the opposite, I tried to continue as much as possible. It was pure guts that got me the win today. So happy to be through.”
Farag gave credit to his wife, Nour El Tayeb, for keeping him in the game between the third and fourth games.
“It was guts and that girl right there, thank you so much,” Farag said. “She gave me so much energy going into the fourth. She told me ‘Ali I know you have it inside, I know you can do it.’ If you get so much belief from someone else, you can only believe in yourself so thank you so much for being there.”
Farag will face his third Egyptian opponent of the tournament in the semifinals against Mosaad.
“I hope I can keep going tomorrow, another great battle with a great friend,” Farag said. “We hit together at least twice a week, whether drills, conditioned games or regular games. We have lots of respect for each other.
“I’m so happy for him to be back. I had no doubt he would come back after a rough year last season, but I tell you he’s been working so hard and staying very positive.”