El Tayeb takes out top seed in all-Egyptian quarterfinal upset

Tayeb takes out top seed Sherbini

Day Seven of the U.S. Open Squash Championships presented by Macquarie Investment Management saw four quarterfinal matches on the ASB Glass Court at Philadelphia’s Drexel University as the semifinalists in the top halves of the Men’s and Women’s PSA World Series draws were decided.

The first match of the day produced a big upset as Nour El Tayeb beat top seed and world No. 1 Nour El Sherbini in a four-game all-Egyptian clash.

Two time champion Laura Massaro made it five U.S. Open semi-finals in seven years as she came from a game down to beat Annie Au, setting up a semifinal with Tayeb.

Nick Matthew‘s impressive U.S. Open form continued as he reached a seventh consecutive final with a tough three-game win over fellow Englishman Daryl Selby.

Matthew will meet defending champion Mohamed Elshorbagy in a repeat of last year’s final after the Egyptian maintained his unbeaten record against Simon Rosner, although the second seed was taken to extra points in both the first two games.

The second set of quarterfinal matches start at 5pm on Thursday.

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Tayeb takes out top seed Sherbini
[10] Nour El Tayeb (Egy) 3-1 [1] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 13-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-7 (47m)

It was appropriate that the first match on Character in Sports was between Egypt’s world No. 1 Nour El Sherbini and world No. 14 Nour El Tayeb.

El Sherbini, twenty-one years old, and El Tayeb, twenty-four years old, have played each other on the junior and professional circuits for nearly a decade and are friends and teammates off the court. So it was no surprise that the fast-paced match between two of the most attacking players on tour was well-spirited.

That being said, the players got down to business as soon as they stepped on court. The first game proved to be the closest of the match with both players using the front corners to slot away winners, and both making some unforced errors.

El Tayeb fought off two game balls from 8-10 down and earned one of her own, which El Sherbini brushed off to level at 11-all. El Tayeb earned another at 12-11 before claiming the first game on a stroke call 13-11.

El Sherbini resettled in the second and produced the same form that saw her win the 2017 world title as she strung together an impressive string of six consecutive points to level the match at 11-5 and one all in games.

In the third and fourth games, El Tayeb stepped up her pressure on the world No. 1, shooting winners from all over the court and forcing more errors from El Sherbini. El Tayeb maintained leads throughout both games to go on and clinch the match in four after forty-seven minutes.

“It seems that I like the US Open!” El Tayeb said. “I always seem to play well here, thankfully so far!! I hope I can continue. It’s always tough to play the world number one that happens to be Nour El Sherbini!

“We are junior rivals for almost 10 years now, although she is three years younger than I am. She’s been world number 1 for almost two years now, and it shows her perseverance and attitude on court.”

While El Tayeb defeated El Sherbini at the Egyptian nationals this summer, the result marks her first PSA victory against El Sherbini since 2015.  

“I had beaten Nour in our Nationals, but to be honest, it was just one week after she won her second World Title so I knew then she was not at her best.

“So I didn’t take too much notice of our last meeting because of the conditions at that time. I have been training really, really hard with my coaches, I had a game plan, and I’m happy I executed it the way I did.”

Matthew makes it seven
[3] Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-0 Daryl Selby (Eng) 15-13, 11-2, 11-8 (50m)

Nick Matthew reached an incredible seventh U.S. Open semi-final in a row as he beat fellow Englishman Daryl Selby in three contrasting games.

The first started patiently, both players willing to rally until an opportunity arose, as the score rose to 5-all. Selby went ahead 8-5 but Matthew recovered to 8-8 before Selby earned two game balls at 10-8.

Matthew saved those, as and extra points ensued both had game ball chances, Matthew eventually taking the lead 15-13 after 25 minutes.

The was the turning point as Matthew raced through the second 11-2 and established a commanding lead in the third. Selby pulled a few points back but it was too late as Matthew finished it off 11-7 to reach the last four yet again.

“Anyone could see how important that first game was when it goes into overtime and having tie breaks.,” said Matthew.

“It was important for me to win it, but it was almost more important for Daryl after his five sets and one hundred minutes the other night—if that’s fair to say.

“I knew that it was a hard first game and the work was in his legs. When I won that I tried to push on in the second. He never gives in and can be at his most dangerous late in the match and I know that.

“Sometimes I get a bit edgy trying to finish him off because he keeps picking it up and plays his tricks when he’s down and out.
“That’s when he’s at his most dangerous. So I’m happy with how I finished it off in three after a really tough first.

“I knew there would be times where I would have to weather some good movements and at times I would have to be patient. Just about got it right, but I know he’s a great competitor.

“We’ve shared some great times on the England team and I trust him with a deciding match, him and James.

“The next generation of English players can learn so much from players like Daryl with the application and professionalism and how he’s always searching to improve even at this age.

Massaro solves the Annie problem
[4] Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-1 [9] Annie Au (Hkg) 9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7 (38m)

Annie Au, with her slow, accurate game and precise lobs and drops, is a dangerous opponent. On a cold court – the aircon has been ramped up since the moisture problems on court a couple of evenings ago – Annie is especially dangerous.

And in the first game the Hong Kong player used the conditions well to take the lead against Laura Massaro, staying just ahead all game to finish it off 11-9.

The Englishwoman, twice a champion here, countered with power, and immediately surged ahead in the second, 9-2 and converting it 11-6.

Massaro built a 9-4 lead in the second, catching Au out with some drops and deceptions of her own, and took the lead 11-8.

Au started the fourth well, led 6-3, but Massaro buckled down to take the next seven points, finishing the match 11-7 to reach her fifth U.S. open semi in seven years.

“I think it was just about keeping my intensity up,” said Massaro.

“Annie is probably the most accurate player on Tour, if you put the ball in the middle of the court on the racket,  it’s dead and it’s really frustrating to play against because you literally put one shot in a bad place and it’s the end of the rally.

“I feel like when I play Annie I just have to run and I don’t get to play my game , I just have to do what I do best which is fight and scrap and try and get the ball back on the front wall one more time. That’s credit to Annie and the level of squash that she is playing right now.

“At this level, you are talking top ten in the world, you can’t play and expect to win in one half of the court so I just needed to be more positive and play the whole court and that’s when I’m at my best so I think I got it right for the majority of the match tonight.”

Defending Champion through in three
[2] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-0 Simon Rosner (Ger) 12-10, 12-10, 11-5 (45m)

Defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy came through a difficult three-game quarterfinal against Simon Roesner to reach his fourth consecutive U.S. Open semifinal.

The German world No. 12 didn’t make it easy for the two-time champion, fighting off four game balls in the first with grueling rallies, but falling short 12-10.

Roesner came close again in the second,  led 8-6 but committed crucial errors late in the game to see ElShorbagy gain a 2-0 advantage.

The third was all ElShorbagy who clinched the match 11-5 after forty-five minutes.   

“In the second game I was down 8-6 and I needed to give it a big push to try and be 2-0 up,” ElShorbagy said.

“There is a huge difference between 1-1 and being 2-0 up, so I’m really happy to be able to get the win in three.

“I thought we played a really high-quality match in the first two games and I’m really happy to get through.”