The semifinal lineups of the Delaware Investments U.S. Open were completed at Drexel University with comprehensive wins for former champions Nick Matthew and Amr Shabana, while both women’s matches went to five games which saw Camille Serme and Nour El Sherbini emerge victorious.
 Camille Serme (FRA) d [Q] Yathreb Adel (EGY) 8-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 11-3 (71m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) d  Laura Massaro (ENG) 11-9, 4-11, 1-11, 11-6, 11-5 (62m)
 Amr Shabana (EGY) d  Omar Mosaad (EGY) 11-3, 11-8, 11-8 (38m)DRAWS
The first match of the evening saw world champion Nick Matthew (right) maintain his run of three-nil victories as he ended the run of 20-year-old Egyptian Fares Dessouki with a commanding performance.
The opening rallies were patient affairs, and it was Dessouki who got the better of them, leading 4-2, but Matthew started to exert more pressure with his volleys—and started to reap the rewards as he dealt with a number of loose returns from Dessouki that he was able to comfortably put away at the front of the court.
Dessouki was looking a little out of it, much as he had done in the early stages of his match against Karim Abdel Gawad two nights ago, and his state of mind probably wasn’t helped by a mid-game video extolling the virtues of Matthew as the complete player!
Matthew lived up to that billing as he took a 5-0 lead in the third, but a couple of volley errors gave Dessouki the smallest hint of weakness as he closed to 6-3 and 7-5.
Then came probably the longest rally of the match, that Matthew made sure he won, by putting away another short volley winner. That was the end of any chance of another miracle comeback as the Englishman took the match 11-6.
“I sensed that he was hanging back a little, so it was a good tactic to take the ball in short,” explained Matthew. “He didn’t seem as quick to the front as he’d been in his earlier matches, which is understandable.
When emcee Gilly Lane commented that Matthew looked like a 20-year-old on court tonight, the 34-year-old Yorkshireman told of his trip to the venue. “The taxi driver asked what I did, so I had to go through the usual Squash, it’s not a vegetable and it’s not racquetball routine, but then at the end of the trip he asked ‘so what age are you, 23/24 ?’ I gave him a big tip for that!”
The first women’s match of Women’s Squash night was appropriately the second longest women’s match of the tournament clocking in at seventy-one minutes with French world No. 6 Camille Serme (right) outlasting the only remaining qualifier in the tournament—eighteen-year-old Egyptian Yathreb Adel—in five games.
Both players committed a number of unforced errors in the first game with the score separated by just two points or less at any given point. Adel pulled away to 9-8 with a drive out of Serme’s reach followed by Serme lobbing out of play to lose the game 11-8.
Two Serme winners and an Adel tin saw the French international up 3-2 early on in the secone, at which point two lets ensued prompting warnings for Adel to play the ball and not the visibly frustrated Serme. Serme continued to press with a string of winners and unforced errors by Adel to claim the game 11-6.
Serme vented her frustration vocally, early in the, third after Adel put a few winners out of reach, two tins and a stroke against Massaro—and a mishit along the wall resulted in a 6-1 lead for the Egyptian. Both players managed a few winners, but Adel maintained the lead to reach 11-5 earning a 2-1 advantage.
In between the third and fourth games, Serme received important counsel from her coach.
“My coach just told me ‘relax, and focus on your game and not all of the lets and contact. I played better just focusing on my game more,” Serme revealed afterwards.
The advice paid off in the fourth game as Serme forced a deciding fifth, with an 11-8 fourth assisted by a number of impressive winning drops and drives, despite two Adel video reviews overturning no lets into strokes.
Serme carried her momentum into the fifth where she pulled away with her largest game lead of the match to win 11-3 and reach her first U.S. Open semifinal.
“I felt like I had two opponents today—Yathreb and myself,” Serme said afterwards.
“I had to push so hard physically and mentally to keep going and play better, but Adel played well. She used everything so that’s the game you know. I had to deal with this, but I’m glad to win today.”
Last night we witnessed a young Egyptian reverse a recent loss against a more experienced English opponent, as Raneem El Welily moved into the semifinals at the expense of Alison Waters, who had beaten her last week in New York.
The last match between Nour El Sherbini (right) and Laura Massaro wasn’t as recent as that—in fact it was last March, but it just happened to be the World Open final, which Massaro won 11-9 in the fifth, and it was also the last major tournament Sherbini played.
So that match in Malaysia was fresh in the three-time World Junior champion’s mind, as it surely was in the senior World Champion’s mind too.
After a cagey opening, it was Sherbini who imposed her will to pull away from 4-all, forging ahead to 10-6, then making a couple of unforced errors as Massaro closed to 9-10. A trademark volley drop gave Sherbini the lead, and she started the second well, leading 4-2.
But then she switched off. Or Massaro stepped up, but the result was that the Englishwoman won the next phase of the game 19-1 as she took the second 11-4 and the third 11-1. From here it looked as though Sherbini had stopped trying to assert her game and was simply reacting, and it wasn’t working.
“Omar [Elborolossy] told me in between games I had to start playing deep shots, to stop her controlling the game,” said Sherbini afterwards.
The advice worked, and in the next two games it was the Egyptian doing most of the pressing, leading 5-2 then 8-5 before taking the fourth 11-6 and keeping a point or two ahead in the decider.
There had been a few traffic problems, with Massaro struggling to get past Sherbini on the Egyptian’s backhand drives, resulting in a lot of lets. Sherbini had been warned to make more effort to clear, and now the referees awarded strokes to Massaro on consecutive rallies down that side wall. Sherbini appealed and both were overturned into lets, the second decision in particular drawing applause from the crowd.
So instead of being pegged back to 7-all, Sherbini still led 7-5 and she took full advantage, dominating the next five rallies and finishing it off with yet another volley drop and a clenched fist.
“I don’t know what happend in the middle, I was just happy to be able to come back and win it.
“My aim coming into this tournament was just to make the glass court, and now I’m in the semifinal. I feel I’m playing better and better every match so I hope I can continue to play well tomorrow against Camille—she’s a very tough player but I’ll try my best.”
After counseling his senior Egyptian in between games of his five-game round of sixteen match, Mosaad found himself on the receiving end of a vintage clinical performance by the thirty-four-year-old former world No. 1.
“I was fortunate because I played at my best today, Omar wasn’t,” Shabana said afterwards. “It was an off day for him. Usually he gives me a tough match, but it happens sometimes to all of us and it doesn’t work out.”
It clearly didn’t work out for Mosaad in the first game, in which the twenty-six-year-old world No. 11 hit three tins, suffered three strokes, and failed to return three well-placed Shabana shots. The legendary lefty sealed the first game 11-3 with a signature forehand volley nick into the opposite corner off Mosaad’s serve.
An entertaining second game saw the Egyptians go point for point with Shabana up 5-4 until Shabana held a 9-8 advantage, at which point Mosaad fired two balls into the tin, handing Shabana the second.
Mosaad’s fortunes got worse in the third, in which he hit four tins, mishit two balls, and failed to retrieve three Shabana winners. Despite a few late unforced errors by Shabana, and a moment of pure sportsmanship when Shabana insisted a likely stroke be called a let, Shabana finished the match with a clear stroke.
“We tried to keep it professional and pretend we hate each other, but it’s tough to hate him because he’s an amazing guy,” Shabana said of Mosaad. “We’re always helping each other out, and he’s an amazing professional.”
Shabana’s semifinal opponent is fellow thirty-four-year-old Nick Matthew, who Shabana first played in 2001, and defeated in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Tournament of Champions in their last meeting.
“It’s just another game for me. Nick is an unbelievable athlete, so I’ll have to give my all. He’s won everything and reached every final. I need to be at my best to compete against him. Hopefully, we’ll put on a good show for the crowd.”
Quick Preview …
First up is a first meeting between young Egyptian Yathreb Adel, the only qualifier left in the event, and world number four Camille Serme from France.
England’s other world champion Nick Matthew also takes on a young Egyptian in Fares Dessouki. Their only meeting was at the British Open in May.
The second men’s matchup, an all-Egyptian one, certainly does have some history – four time world champion Amr Shabana holds a 7-0 advantage over Omar Mosaad including two wins earlier this year in El Gouna and Detroit.