The quarter-final lineup of the Delaware Investments U.S. Open was completed today in Philadelphia.
It was a good day for Egypt, with qualifier Yathreb Adel producing a stunning upset, Fares Dessouki mounting an astonishing comeback, and former U.S. Open champion Amr Shabana surviving a scare in the last match of the day.
Tue 14th, Day SIX—Round Two, Bottom Half Omar Mosaad (EGY) d Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 11-7, 11-9, 11-5 (42m)
 Amr Shabana (EGY) d Max Lee (HKG) 12-10, 13-15, 11-6, 4-11, 11-8 (78m)
Fares Dessouki (EGY) d Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 6-11, 4-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-9 (87m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) d Chris Simpson (ENG) 11-6, 11-6, 11-9 (50m) Camille Serme (FRA) d Tesni Evans (WAL) 11-7, 11-8, 11-7 (38m)
[Q] Yathreb Adel (EGY) d  Annie Au (HKG) 11-9, 11-8, 11-3 (28m) Nour El Sherbini (EGY) d Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 11-4, 11-7, 11-5 (27m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) d Sarah Kippax (ENG) 12-10, 11-7, 7-11, 11-3 (48m)DRAWS
Serme Through in Three
For the most part the French fourth seed managed to keep the match on her own terms, avoiding too many of the long scrambling rallies that Evans thrives on.
Evans took an early lead, 3-1 and 4-2 after the opening exchanges, but once Serme had caught up at 4-all she was never behind again, taking the first 11-7 and pulling away at the end of the second for 11-8 and a two-game lead.
It all looked to be going the French way in the third as Serme, helped by a spell of errors from Evans, quickly went 9-2 ahead. Evans then contested a ‘no let’ decision and after a long wait it was confirmed for 10-2.
Evans put in her best spell of the match, getting Serme involved in some tough front-to-back rallies and clawing her way back to 10-7. That was as close as she got though as the match finished on a stroke to the relieved Frenchwoman.
“I didn’t feel on top of my game physically,” said Serme, “so that was a tough day at the office. She made it very tough despite having a long match in the last round, so I’m very pleased to win that in three games.”
Qualifier Yathreb Adel avenged her five-game loss against world No. 10 Annie Au in December’s Hong Kong Open in one of the biggest upsets of the tournament to advance to the quarterfinals of her first U.S. Open.
The eighteen-year-old Egyptian frustrated the Hong Kong international, who never held a lead throughout any of the three games. The first game was rife with unforced errors from both players with Adel managing a few winners to separate the sides.
Au appeared to be on her way back in the second game when she was boosted by an overturned yes let to no let video review in her favor to get within reach of Adel at 5-6. Adel once again pulled away, however, to win the second 11-8. Adel, world No. 74, sped through the third 11-3 to end the match in just under half an hour.
Adel admitted she was happy to turn around the result from her only previous encounter against Au in Hong Kong.
“It was last year so I think I improved a lot maybe, and this year I had a different plan and it worked. Last year was the first time I played her so I was used to her shots. I was more concentrated today than I was then.”
Well, what a strange match that was. For half an hour Karim Abdel Gawad (right) seemed to be in complete control, whith his fellow Egyptian unable to make any impression in a strangely low-key match that seemed to lack the intensity you would expect—with Dessouki seemingly resigned to his fate.
Yes, Gawad was playing some fine shots as he pulled clear from 5-all in the first to take the game 11-6, and then to lead 10-1 in the second before taking it 11-4, but Dessouki was strangely subdued.
The pattern continued in the third, Gawad went 7-1 up and a 30-minute rout looked to be on the cards.
Then at 8-4, Dessouki clipped Gawad’s head with his racquet, and Gawad took a few minutes to replace his contact lens – and got a no let for his trouble. And that was when everything changed.
The next ten rallies were the fastest and fiercest of the match so far, and it was Dessouki who was by and large controlling them. Gawad actually won the first two of those rallies to reach 10-5 match ball, and had chances of winning dropshots in two of the subsequent exchanges but tinned them both. Dessouki then took six tough points in a row for 10-12 and a match that looked over was very much back on.
Gawad seemed to shrug that setback off, established some control again and led 5-2 and 9-3 in the fourth. But once again Dessouki came back with a run of points, this time taking eight in a row to force the decider.
They actually played what felt like three times that many points, however, with let after let being played especially towards the end of the game. It wasn’t nasty, but it certainly wasn’t pleasant viewing, especially with the court cleaners being called on to clear sweat from the floor every two or three rallies.
The fifth was close all the way, 6-all, 7-all, 8-all, 9-all. A stroke gave Dessouki match ball, two lets (both of which Dessouki were hoping were strokes), and finally Dessouki served into the back corner nick to complete a remarkable comeback that no-one, especially Dessouki himself, expected.
“Right now I don’t think I won that match, I think I lost it,” said a stunned winner. “He was controlling me so well, and in between the games I couldn’t even tell myself that I could still win because he was so much on top.
“This was a new thing for me, to come back like this. It was a test between me and myself, and I proved to myself that I am mentally strong.”
Mosaad Marches On
A clash of attacking styles made for fluid, fast-paced rallies between the 6’4” Egyptian and 6’2” Swiss. Mueller, world No. 21, came out of the gates strong winning the first four rallies before Mosaad equalized, and then proceeded to take the first game 11-7 forcing a few errors from Mueller, also catching him out of position on a few occasions.
Mueller presented a better challenge in the second game, but at 9-9, he ended two rallies with tins to hand Mosaad a 2-0 advantage. An unsettled Mueller folded in the third game at 2-2, dropping six consecutive rallies, ultimately leading to Mosaad closing the match 11-5.
“It’s my first time to be in the U.S. Open quarterfinal,” Mosaad said.
“Nic is such a good player and he’s a nice guy. Everyone likes him. Today was a really good match. It was really hard to play my game, especially in the first and second games, and he controlled it a bit in the first game. I’m happy to win today and move on to the quarterfinals.”
The former world no. 8 is aiming for a semifinal appearance to boost his bid to break into the world’s top ten once more, but he must get past either Amr Shabana or Max Lee first.
Sherbini Sails Through
Not that long ago it would have been Duncalf who was the seed and the favorite here, but the Englishwoman’s ranking, and confidence, have slipped of late and today it was the young Egyptian who justified her seventh seeding as she maintained the lead throughout each of the three games.
“I wasn’t 100% comfortable with my shots today. It’s been a long time since I played a big match on a glass court,” admitted Sherbini, “and Jenny’s not the type of player you want to meet in this sort of match.
“It feels amazing to be back, and I’m really pleased and excited that I could be able to come and play here. I know I’ll be playing another Englishwoman next, and either Laura [Massaro] or Sarah [Kippax] will be tough, so good luck to them and I hope we have a good match on Thursday.”
Massaro’s opponent and England Teammate, Sarah Kippax, didn’t make it easy for the world No. 2, however, as Massaro needed to fight off two game balls to win the first game. Massaro asserted herself in the second game, leveling three Kippax leads before pulling away at 7-all to win 11-7.
“It’s really tough whenever you’re playing a teammate and friend,” Massaro said.
“We played first round in Brooklyn last week, and we practiced together in between, so we played each other a fair bit recently. It’s always hard because you know each other’s games and you’re trying to adapt what you’ve learned so it was good to come out with the win.”
Matthew Holds Off Simpson—For Now
Nick Matthew came through his all-English encounter with Chris Simpson unscathed, another three-nil win in the bag, but as the second seed acknowledged after the match, the Guernsey man, eight years Matthew’s junior, is creeping ever closer.
Simpson matched the reigning world champion for the majority of the encounter, only to see Matthew pull clear from 6-5 in both games, winning them each 11-6 when the pressure-told Matthew found the openings he needed.
The third was closer for longer, Simpson leading 5-2 before Matthew clawed back to lead 7-6. There was no quick finish this time with both players working hard in every rally, but Matthew stayed a point ahead 7-6, 9-8, 10-9, and took the match with a dropshot that was just beyond Simpson’s reach.
“That seems to be the way it is lately when I play Chris,” said Marthew, “I’m hanging on at the end of the third trying not to let it go to a fourth. He’s getting closer.
Asked about his quarterfinal against Fares Dessouki, Matthew said: “Fares is maturing fast. He saved a bunch of match balls today in an amazing comeback, so I’ll have my work cut out against him, that’s for sure.”
The twenty-six-year-old world No. 20 broke out some show-stopping shots of his own against the thirty-four-year-old former world No. 1, and nearly claimed the match himself in the second encounter of their careers having played for the first time in May’s British Open—a 3-1 win to Shabana.
“I felt he learned a couple of things from the last match,” Shabana said. “I think I can prepare better next time. I have a few things I need to work on. Today, it showed I still have some grit and fight and it’s good for me at this age to fight like this so I’m happy.”
The Egyptian not only showed he still had grit and fight, but also his signature flair and precise shot-making with a string of nicks and winners in the first game, which he claimed 12-10.
At 8-8 in the second game, Shabana appeared to be on his way to securing a commanding two-game lead after a successful yes let to no let video challenge earning a 9-8 advantage. Lee then leveled with a nick of his own, followed by Shabana hitting the tin for a game ball.
With advantage Lee at 11-10, and after three let rallies, four straight nick winners from both players saw Lee with the advantage at 14-13. Perhaps the rally of the tournament ensued in which Shabana pulled of a dummy swing, which Lee retrieved, then a few shots later, Lee pulled a dummy swing of his own sending Shabana the wrong way and ending the game to the roar of the crowd.
Shabana regained control in the third, which culminated with three tins from Lee, ending the game 11-6. Lee then responded just as swiftly in the third, speeding to a 10-4 advantage after an uncharacteristic run of unforced errors—at which point Shabana conceded the point and game mid-rally in a bid to conserve energy for the fifth.
The duo went point for point in the final game until Lee once again had a late run of tins building up to match point, which Shabana won sending Lee the wrong way ending the night with a standing ovation.
“It was like playing in Hong Kong all of a sudden. It went from an extremely cold and dead court, to very humid and hot court. He felt very powerful today. All credit to him, I needed to gather every second of every bit of experience I had to beat him today.”
Between games, countryman and Shabana’s next opponent Omar Mosaad provided guidance to Shabana.
“He was giving me the wrong information I felt today,” Shabana said to the amusement of the crowd.
“Omar is one of those players who is up and coming, and he’s already knocking on the door of the top eight players. Playing him will be a very tough match. He’s an incredibly strong player so hopefully I can play well against him.”