Wed 15th Oct, Day SEVEN—Quarterfinals, Top Half Raneem El Welily (EGY) d  Alison Waters (ENG) 11-9, 11-8, 11-5 (32m)
 Nicol David (MAS) d  Low Wee Wern (MAS) 11-6, 11-4, 11-9 (40m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) d  Simon Rösner (GER) 11-8, 13-11, 11-13, 11-3 (82m)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) d Adrian Waller (ENG) 18-16, 11-8, 11-9 (51m)DRAWS
First and Third seeds through to semis
Day seven of the Delaware Investments U.S. Open in Philadelphia saw victory for the higher-seeded players – including the top seeds and defending champions – in the top half of the draw.
Men’s top seed Gregory Gaultier was pushed hard for three games before pulling away from Simon Rosner in the fourth, and Mohamed Elshorbagy set up a showdown with Gaultier as he edged three close games against Adrian Waller.
Today’s first quarterfinal was a rerun of Raneem El Welily (right) and Alison Waters’ semifinal in the Carol Weymuller Open last week.
Then it was Waters who prevailed, coming from two games down on her way to taking the title, but tonight it was all El Welily—after the Egyptian had recovered from a 0-5 start to the match, that is.
It wasn’t that Waters came out at a blistering pace, but the Egyptian just took her time to settle. Once she did, and it only took until 6-all, she was dominating most of the rallies for the rest of the match.
Waters was generally unable to get in front and find her dominating volleys as she normally does—instead she found herself being pushed back constantly, and Welily’s length was good enough to force weak returns that gave her plenty of time to decide what to do next. Usually that was to hit a winner, or to force an error from the Englishwoman, but of course she made a few errors herself to keep things interesting.
The most dangerous moment for Welily came as she reached game ball at 10-9 in the first. Waters’ straight return of serve brought up a ‘no let’ call, but Welily made good use of the video challenge to get that decision overturned, and promptly won the next rally to take the lead.
“I’m very thankful, and happy to win that match,” said El Welily. “I don’t think Alison was as fresh as she was last week. She wasn’t getting to a lot of shots that she was running down in New York.
“The rest days we get in this tournament are great,” she added. “It gives you time to relax, chill out, and then prepare for the next round. I know I’ll be playing a Malaysian next—I hope they kill each other in a really long, tough, match!”
Unlike the four-game, hour-long Asian Games final in which Low claimed the first game, David controlled the U.S. Open quarterfinal from the beginning, forcing a number of Low errors to win the first game 11-6.
The second ended just as clinically after an even start when David won six straight to clinch the game 11-4.
“It’s a different tournament and for me it’s another big tournament, so I’m excited to be here,” David said of her pristine record in Philadelphia. “It was tough out there today playing Wee Wern, but I’m happy to win in three.”
“It’s difficult playing against your teammate, but you have to just think that it’s the quarterfinals and whoever is there is a contender, and they’re out to get you. I had to be alert and sharp today and I’m really pleased with my performance.”
David’s semifinal opponent is Egyptian world No. 3 Raneem El Welily who defeated David in the semifinals of August’s Malaysian Open. Since then, David has won the Hong Kong Open and Asian Games Individual titles.
“I’ve had a few tournaments since that match, so I’ve a few big wins, and I think I’ll just bring that forward. I’m looking forward to the semifinals and I’m ready to go.”
And didn’t he just. For three games there was nothing, absolutely nothing to choose between them. Gaultier did take a 4-1 lead in the first, but thereafter Rösner kept pace with the scoreboard, Gaultier maintaining a cushion to take the game 11-8.
That game took twenty-three minutes, and the timing of the next two, at twenty-five and twenty-two minutes, tell you what you need to know about the intensity of the match—the sheer brutality of some of the rallies.
When Gaultier reached 10-8 in the second, that was the biggest lead he had held, but Rösner dug in to take three points in a row to earn game ball himself. The German got himself a bit excited, trying to fire in powerful winners, only to see Gaultier retrieve them, and then save it with a lucky winner of his own. Rösner missed a good chance on the next rally, then had to escape from his own loose shoot, leaving the Frenchman an easy put away for 13-11 and a two game lead.
Skip to 9-all in the third, and Rösner and had another chance as Gaultier tinned. It would take him three game balls to finally force an error out of Gaultier, and after well over an hour we were at 2-1.
Whether the loss of the game spurred Gaultier on, or whether the effort took its toll on Rösner—probably a little of both—but the Frenchman took the sting out of the fourth game, controlled the rallies and quickly established an 8-1 lead with Rösner showing little sign of being able to make a comeback.
“That was really tough for three games,” admitted Gaultier. “I thought I played well for most of the match, but he played really well too. Taking the second was crucial.
“Simon played so well, he’ll break into the top ten soon. I was the unlucky one who had to get him in the quarters, but I’ll take matches like that to keep me focussed for the rest of the tournament.”
Mohamed Elshorbagy will have the opportunity to stake his claim for world No. 1 in his first U.S. Open semifinal appearance against defending champion and current world No. 1, Greg Gaultier, after a difficult three-game victory over Adrian Waller.
Elshorbagy, twenty-three years old, and Waller, twenty-four years old, produced the highest-scoring game of the tournament in the opener with the Egyptian fighting off six game balls to come out on top 18-16.
The world No. 2 then fought off an early Waller lead in the second game to win 11-8, with both players displaying an entertaining variety of nicks, drops, and drives.
“He played so well,” Elshorbagy said. “We grew up together playing juniors, in almost every junior tournament. We know each other really well. I knew it was going to be tough. In the World Championship, he took me to five games and almost took me out of that tournament.
“I knew how tough it would be, and I knew what he is capable of. He played way better than his ranking, that’s for sure, and he has shown that many many times. He just hasn’t got that consistency yet, but he will get it for sure one day. I’m just happy I got away in three games, unlike in Manchester. It was very important for me and my confidence.”
The world No. 1 position next month is up for grabs between Elshorbagy, his semifinal opponent Gaultier, and Nick Matthew during the U.S. Open
“Of course Greg is such a great player and great ambassador for our sport. We’ve had such great battles together. We both have a rest day tomorrow, and we’ll both be fresh for the semifinal. I think we’re going to give a really great match for the tournament and for the crowd. I’m really looking forward to another good and fair battle with him as always.”
Preview: No strangers…
Today’s women’s quarterfinals are both repeats of recent matches—Alison Waters beat Raneem El Welily on her way to claiming the Carol Weymuller Open title last week in New York, and Nicol David beat Low Wee Wern in an all-Malaysian Asian Games final in Korea earlier this month.
In WSA meetings, Waters has an 8-2 advantage over Welily, while David has yet to lose to Low in six meetings.
Gregory Gaultier and Simon Rösner are no strangers either, but the German has yet to register a win over the top seed (outside of a World Series Finals best of three) in eight PSA matches.
Shorbagy and Waller have only met twice, with the Egyptian winning both encounters—the last one a 74-minute five-setter in the Manchester World Champs.