King dethrones Serme as Diego stops Marwan
Day Six of the U.S. Open Squash Championships presented by Macquarie Investment Management saw eight more second round matches on the ASB Glass Court at Philadelphia’s Drexel University as the quarter-finalists in the bottom halves of the Men’s and Women’s PSA World Series draws were decided.
Defending women’s champion Camille Serme crashed out in five games to Joelle King, who found the backwall nick on her fifth match ball. She now meets Alison Waters, the English eighth seed who also needed five games to end home interest as she beat U.S. Champion Olivia Blatchford.
An Egyptian semi-finalist is assured with second and fifth seeds Raneem El Welily and Nouran Gohar through after victories over Tesni Evans and Joshna Chinappa.
The men’s matches started with a big upset as Peru’s Diego Elias beat sixth seed Marwan Elshorbagy in a clash of two double world junior champions. He’ll now meet another Egyptian after 2015 finalist Omar Mosaad beat New Zealand’s Paul Coll in an impressive three games.
As with the women, an Egyptian semi-finalist is guaranteed after Fares Dessouki came from a game down to beat Alan Clyne and fourth seed Ali Farag finished strongly to beat compatriot Mazen Hesham in five games.
Women’s Round Two (bottom half):
Diego Elias played “one of the best matches of my life” to upset six seed Marwan ElShorbagy and reach his first U.S. Open quarterfinals—just his second career appearance in a World Series quarterfinal.
The twenty-year-old world No. 14 contained the Egyptian, cutting off ElShorbagy’s advances and moving him around the court before slotting in his winners to end the entertaining rallies.
Elshorbagy nearly fought back to win the second game, coming back from 4-8 down to go up 9-8, but Elias pulled back ahead to win the second 11-9. ElShorbagy remained within reach in the third, until Elias pushed through from 8-all to win the match 11-9 after forty-six minutes.
“It’s always hard, we’re good friends and it’s always a close match,” Elias said. “I was really concentrated this match and I was trying to do my best. I played one of the best matches of my life.”
The Peruvian said he spent this summer training with world No. 1 Gregory Gaultier, which improved his game leading into this season. Last week in San Francisco, Elias nearly defeated Karim Abdel Gawad in the Oracle NetSuite Open semifinals, but squandered a two game lead.
“Last week I got a bit tired I had played a match the night before, but I think that was also in my head,” Elias said. “This time when I was two love up I wasn’t thinking of the other match, but I was really trying to concentrate.
“I have my dad with my this time, which has helped a lot. This season I’m playing better, I trained really hard with Greg in the Czech Republic and I’m feeling good.”
World No. 5 Nouran Gohar outlasted India’s Joshna Chinappa in a physical four-game battle in the first women’s match of the day.
The fifty-seven-minute match was punctuated with decisions, which made it difficult for either player to find a rhythm.
Chinappa, world No. 13, came out firing in the first game, finding her marks to gain an early lead 11-9. Gohar replied by taking a close second 11-9. Chinappa earned an 8-6 lead in the third when Gohar strung together three winners before clinching the game 11-9. The fourth was all Gohar who sped to a 7-1 lead before closing out the match 11-5.
“It was a battle physically, but it was also mentally very very tough on the court today,” Gohar said. “Being 1-0 down and 8-6 down, and in the third, down as well, I was thinking I have to give it all today, even if I’m going to lose, I’ve got to give it a fight and play my best.”
The result sends Gohar to her second consecutive U.S. Open quarterfinals.
“It was a good performance, and I’m happy with the way I dealt with it mentally,” Gohar said. “It was really tough in there, and Joshna played really well. I had to try and contain her a little bit, play tight on the wall, because if you open the court with her, she is going to drop the shot or play a boast, a very nice one too! So I tried to play a basic game today, and I’m glad it worked at the end.”
Fourth seed Ali Farag came through a five-game challenge against fellow Egyptian Mazen Hesham, easing to victory in the fifth in a match that he could so easily have lost three-nil.
Hesham – aka ‘the Black Falcon’ – was on fire in the early stages, finding winners at will as he took a 10-4 lead in the opening game. Farag wasn’t fazed, and playing the ‘Steady Eddie’ character proceeded to win the next eight points to take the lead 12-10.
Or, to be more precise, Farag simply waited for the Falcon’s errors, of which there were ten in that opening game.
The second and third were both well contested and close, Hesham winning both to take the lead, and the fourth continued in the same vein until 4-all.
From then on the Hesham error count soared again, although to be fair Farag was controlling the play well, and found a few winners of his own.
The last game and a half were over in a flash, and at 11-1 in the fifth a relieved Farag was through to a second consecutive U.S. Open quarter-final.
I was very surprised with the way he bounced back after losing the first game,” said Farag. He’s been working very hard on the mental aspect of the game, he got much better over the years, and I hope he doesn’t get much better because nobody will have a chance against him.
I’m just happy.
I just tried to weather the storm as much as possible. I was talking with Nour and Mike Way, Harvard head coach who was here and helping between games, I just tried to hit my targets as much as possible, as if I gave him any angle or height he’s going to attack as well! So you have basically only 5 inches where you can hit the ball up, other than that, goodbye.
Happy I was able to do just that today, 11/1 doesn’t reflect the match, it could have gone either way, especially the first three. It was a flip of a coin, just happy to get through.
Defending champion Camille Serme crashed out of the U.S. Open tonight, beaten in five games by 11th seeded Joelle King, who needed five match balls to confirm the upset.
King started briliantly, storming through the first game 11-5, but Serme was equally dominant in the second, levelling 11-4.
The next two games were more even, and both were split with King retaking the lead 11-6 only for Serme to level again, 11-9.
Both were making more unforced errors than they would like, but both were being forced into some by pressing play from their opponent.
Early in the fifth it looked as Serme would hang on, her volleys just a little more accurate, her errors fewer. But at 7-all two Serem tins and a mishit winner from King and the Kiwi had three match balls.
Serme saved them all, controlling the rallies and forcing King into two mistakes and setting up one winning drop. King went ahead again 11-10, but under no pressure put the ball out of court. A fifth chance came King’s way at 12-11, and with both playing safety first it was King’s high ball that died in the back court nick to end Serme’s reign.
“Camille is a classy player and she has won some of the biggest tournaments and she’s defending champion here,” said King.
“It was one of those matches that could go either way and it’s just a case of whichever player doesn’t make those mistakes and doesn’t get rattled by what the score is, is the person who comes out on top in those ones and today that was me.
“I’m happy with the way I’m playing and the big thing for me is how I fought back from 2-1 down today.”
U.S. National Champion Olivia Blatchford came close, very close, to reaching her first U.S. Open quarterfinal as she lost out to England’s Alison Waters in five games.
Blatchford started strongly, taking then regaining the lead as she got the better of her higher-ranked opponent 11-9, 5-11, 11-9.
Waters looked on the way to levelling again as she led the fourth, but a Blatchford fightback took her to 9-8, two points from the quarters. Two opportunities arose, but the American tinned both to put Waters at 10-9.
“I’m just happy to be through,”Waters said, “I was lucky to win that. I managed to get myself back in a position to win the fourth without playing my best squash, but Olivia played really well and took the game to me.”
“You can’t complain with getting through to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open, so, I’m really looking forward to it and it will be nice to have a rest day tomorrow and regroup.”
Fares Dessouki won through to an all-Egyptian quarter-final against Ali Farag as he recovered from a game down to beat Alan Clyne.
The Scot dominated the first, but Dessouky returned the favour in the second, and although Clyne had early leads in the third and fourth games, his error count – and his own frustration with that – was too high, the Egyptian soon overcame those deficits to move into his third U.S. Open quarter-final in four years.
“He surprised me because last time we played I was 2-0 up and so he surprised me in the first game and I’m pleased to have pulled through.
“It’s going to be a tough game in the next round, Ali is one of the toughest opponents in the world so I have to be ready for that match and try to enjoy it.”
Having barely survived her first round encounter, recovering from two games down, second seed Raneem El Welily looked sharp from the start against Tesni Evans. The Welsh tiger battled well, but the world #2 looked in good form, and good touch, as she won in straight games, Evans become increasingly resigned and frustrated as the match progressed.
The last rally said it all , with Raneem, already 10-4 up, chasing down everything Tesni threw at her, racing to the front for a final delicate dropshot.
“Tesni is a really tough opponent, we haven’t played much but I’ve always watched her play and she has got great hands and great skills and I’m sure she’s a future top ten player. I have all respect for her and I really enjoyed playing against her today.
“The plan today was obviously more character than two days ago and give everything, and hopefully I managed to do that and I’m pleased to be through to the next round.”
Omar Mosaad, finalist here in 2015 but after injury and personal problems now ranked in the twenties, turned in an impressive performance as he dismantled Paul Coll, conqueror of the world champion in the first round in straight games.
The big Egyptian powered ahead in the first, moving to 10-6 but needing a fifth game ball to take the lead after a Coll recovery. Mosaad was always ahead in the next two games, finishing off in style to set up a quarter-final with Diego Elias.
“I’m really happy,” said Mosaad. “I got a little bit sick and it has taken me about a year and a half to reach the quarter-finals of a big event, and it has been two years since I reached the final here.
“To play against Paul is really hard but I’m really happy to reach the quarter-finals and hopefully I can win the next round.”