Coll takes out top seed in round one shocker
The second day of first round action of the 2017 U.S. Open presented by Macquarie Investment Management at Drexel University saw another sixteen matches and one massive upset.
Elsewhere in the men’s draw Egyptian qualifier Mazen Hesham beat Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez, and Peruvian youngster Diego Elias continued his impressive recent form beating Asian champion Max Lee in straight games.
The women’s matches all went to seeding – although second seed Raneem El Welily had to come from two games down to progress – with defending champion Camille Serme and U.S. champion Olivia Blatchford progressed in straight games.
Wildcard entries Haley Mendez and Chris Gordon both lost out as the last sixteen lineup in each draw was completed.
Read on for results and reports …
 Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-1 [Q] Amanda Landers-Murphy (Nzl) 11-2, 13-11, 4-11, 11-7 (33m)
 Joshna Chinappa (Ind) 3-1 Dipika Pallikal Karthik (Ind) 7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 (45m)
 Camille Serme (Fra) 3-0 [wc] Haley Mendez (Usa) 11-2, 11-7, 11-8 (25m)
 Alison Waters (Eng) 3-0 [Q] Sam Cornett (Can) 11-7, 11-8, 12-10 (38m)
 Raneem El Welily (Egy) 3-2 [Q] Hollie Naughton (Can) 10-12, 9-11, 11-6, 11-1, 11-9 (53m)
 Joelle King (Nzl) 3-0 [Q] Milou van der Heijden (Ned) 11-3, 13-11, 11-8 (34m)
 Olivia Blatchford (Usa) 3-0 [Q] Madeline Perry (Irl) 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 (32m)
 Tesni Evans (Wal) 3-0 Heba El Torky (Egy) 11-6, 11-4, 17-15 (40m)
Men’s Round one (bottom half):
Diego Elias (Per) 3-0 Max Lee (Hkg) 11-8, 13-11, 11-7 (51m)
 Marwan Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-0 [Q] Abdulla Al Tamimi (Qat) 11-5, 12-10, 11-3 (31m)
Alan Clyne (Sco) 3-1 [Q] Karim Ali Fathi (Egy) 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-4 (60m)
 Ali Farag (Egy) 3-0 [Q] Lucas Serme (Fra) 11-6, 14-12, 11-6 (39m)
[Q] Mazen Hesham (Egy) 3-1 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col) 11-8, 5-11, 11-6, 11-8 (55m)
Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-1  Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 11-8, 11-3, 6-11, 11-8 (74m)
Omar Mosaad (Egy) 3-0 [Q] Chris Simpson (Eng) ) 11-8, 11-6, 11-5 (44m)
 Fares Dessouky (Egy) 3-0 [wc] Chris Gordon (Usa) 11-9, 11-7, 11-6 (40m)
After a rapid 11-2 first game in which qualifier Amanda Landers-Murphy struggled to come to term with both the glass court and the power generated by her opponent, it looked as though Nouran Gohar would have a quick passage into the second round.
To her credit though, the Kiwi settled and fought back well for the rest of the match. Mostly a point or two behind during the second, she had one chance to level before the Egyptian edged the game 13-11, but Landers-Murphy continued the improvement to dominate the third 11-4.
“I’m happy to be back here, for what the fifth time,” said Gohar. “In the first she wasn’t really hitting the ball very well but in the second she put me in a lot of trouble, hitting everything in the nick so I had to play my best to win in the end
“It was really important to win that second, there’s a big difference between two-nil and one-all. In the third, she played really well, she won it in 6m, something like that, I had to regroup myself and go back to the game plan.
A 9-1 start in the first and a 9-0 opening to the third told the story of Marwan EElshorbagy’s progress into the last sixteen.
To be fair, Abdulla al Tamimi pulled a few points back in each, and in the second pushed the Egyptian all the way, only losing out in extra points.
But it was Marwan’s match, as he joined big brother in round two, where he’ll face fellow double world junior champion, Diego Elias.
“I feel good. I’m happy to be back here, I feel excited just to be on court here, to be back in Philly makes me feel good. Second tournament of the season, and the first World Series. Feeling good and sharp, looking forward to my day off tomorrow.
“You have to make sure you contain Abdullah. He is a tricky player, very hard to read, and I knew how important that second game was. I was really focused, I didn’t want to give him any chances, because if he has a chance, he’ll just go for it, so beating him 3/0 is a good result I think.
“Diego is a very good player, he played very well last week in Shanghai, I was watching him, he had a great win against Nick Matthew, he pushed Gawad all the way to a 5th game, so it’s going to be a tough match, but all I can think about now is my day off tomorrow!”
Peru’s Diego Elias recorded a confident three-game victory against Hong Kong’s Max Lee in the first match of the day on Drexel’s Kline & Specter Court 1. The world No. 15 advanced in fifty-one minutes to reach his second consecutive U.S. Open round of sixteen.
“You’re always a bit nervous in the first round so I just wanted to relax a little bit,” Elias said. “I tried to play my shots and it was working, and I was moving well so if I didn’t play my shots I was able to get the next one. So I was feeling really good on court.”
The twenty year old’s climb up the world rankings saw him enter the U.S. Open main draw without having to progress through qualifying for the first time in his third tournament appearance.
“It’s a big help not playing two matches before this,” Elias said. “I’m fresh right now, I’ve been training hard. I’ve been playing well so it’s a lot better playing in the main draw.”
Elias will play Marwan Elshorbagy in the first glass court match Tuesday, October 10, at noon.
Defending champion Camille Serme made quick work of Haley Mendez, romping through the first game 11-2, and although the wildcard, appearing in her first U.S. Open main draw, made the Frenchwoman work harder in the next two games, the world #2 always had the advantage and the edge.
“I’d never seen Haley play so I was nervous as I didn’t know what to expect but I wanted to play my game and tried to find my targets on the court.”
Ali Farag continued his quest for a first World Series title with a three-game win over French qualifier Lucas Serme that could have been very different.
The Egyptian was dominant in the early stages, but after a late rally in the first Serme got into the match. Farag still led, but it took him seven game balls to double his advantage 14-12.
Normal service was resumed in the third as Farag, quarter-finalist last year, pulled clear to close out the match in three.
“The second game was crucial, ” admitted Farag.
“Had it gone the other way, it would have been a completely different story. I’m just happy to get this second game, thankfully I run with a bit of points in the third, I could capitalise with the lead, and I’m very happy to get away.
“We’ve been playing since a very young age together so we knew what to expect from each other, I knew it was going to be a very tough opponent today, so I’m very happy to get a 3/0 win.
“Last time we played was 2 years ago, that’s a long time. I remembered from the old days, but also I watched him a little bit, the game has been developing getting tougher and tougher. So I talked to my coach, I talked to Nour, and thankfully the plan worked today.
“A victory in a world series is definitely on my mind but I don’t want to go far ahead, I just want to take it match by match. Next one is going to be Mazen or Miguel, very entertaining players, people are going to come to watch them, not me!
“It’s going to be a tough one but an exciting one as they are both very very fair players so hopefully, we are going to put on a good show.”
Second seed Raneem El Welily has reached the quarter-final or better in each of the last five U.S. Opens, but today she almost came unstuck in the first round against qualifier Hollie Naughton.
The Canadian played superbly in the first two games, taking the play to here illustrious opponent, and getting the better of most of the crucial exchanges as she took a two game advantage 12-10, 11-9.
Welily struck back, started to dominate the play and the scoreboard with her attacks and deceptive skills, and soon enough she eas level 11-6, 11-1.
The Egyptian domination continued in the decider, leading 9/2 and 10/5. Naughton chose that moment to return to her best play, and reeled off four points to close to 10-9. The tension on the Egyptians watching on the front row was obvious.
“In the third, I think I kind of let go,” siad a relieved Welily. “I had nothing to lose, 2/0 down, I was literally out of the tournament, so yes, happy to be back from the dead.
“She nearly made an even better come back at the end, but thankfully, she gave me a gift at the end, and I’m still alive.
“Experience is key here, I think I have to learn from today’s match, like I’ve learned in the past, so, hopefully next time, I’ll handle the situation a bit better.
The women’s main draw featured six first-round matches between players of the same nationality, one of which was India’s Joshna Chinappa against Dipika Pallikal Karthik.
One month after Chinappa defeated Pallikal Karthik in the China Open, it was again Chinappa—the thirteen seed—who took the honors.
“It was difficult because she is such a good player, plus we are teammates and we play doubles together,” Chinappa said.
“We do everything in squash together so it is hard, of course, and she is obviously very lethal. She had a good tournament in San Fran so I knew that she was coming in with good form and I had to be ready from the go.”
It’s not often that two top ten players meet in the round of 32, but the meeting between top-seeded World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad and fast-rining Kiwi Paul Coll promised much, and it duly delivered.
Coll took command of the early stages of the match, coming through a 20-minute first game, then comparatively racing through the second to lead 11-8, 11-3. Gawad fought back, as he does, taking the third 11-6 – with Coll vainly diving into the back corner on game ball – and forging a 5-1 lead in the fourth.
The momentum switched once more though, as Coll fought back to level, now it was Gawad diving in desperation.
Coll edged ahead 9-8, and following a Coll dropshot Gawad ran into the Kiwi’s back, sending him to the floor and earning a conduct stroke for his trouble (he’d been warned twice already for over physical play).
Gawad argued his case, but match ball it was, and on the next rally an unsettled Gawad quickly found the tin and Coll had his biggest win yet.
“I’m really happy,” said Coll. “I’ve been working really hard during the off-season and I’m cashing in and it’s going really well.
“In the third I missed my targets so I was pleased I managed to pull it back in the fourth.
“The tournament’s not over and I’ve still got a few more matches so I just need to stay grounded and move on.”
Current U.S. National Champion Olivia Blatchford put an end to the run of pre-qualifier Madeline Perry in straight games to take home interest into round two.
Perry, the 40-year-old former world #3 who reached the quarter-s and semis here from 2012 to 2014, was close in all three games, but Blatchford always had the edge and reached the last sixteen for the first time with a delighted fistpump.
“It’s wonderful to be playing some of my best squash here in the States,” said Blatchford.
“Madeline is an immense competitor, I know first hand from playing her a few times previously. She came through two very tough qualifying matches to reach this stage but I just tried to keep my squash as simple as possible.”