Serme and Matthew through to face top seeds
Semi-finals day at Drexel, with top seeds Nour El Sherbini and Mohamed Elshorbagy ensuring Egyptian interest in both finals, Camille Serme ending US hopes and Nick Matthew grinding out another impressive win.
Sherbini reached her second U.S. Open final as she came from a game down to beat compatriot Raneem El Welily in a repeat of their recent Al-Ahram final, Serme reached her second World Series final with an impressive four-game win over Amanda Sobhy.
Elshorbagy, after a shaky start to the tournament, looked in good form as he beat James Willstrop in three tough games, while Matthew continued to deft the years as he prevailed 12-10 in the fifth against in-form Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad.
 Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-1  Raneem El Welily (Egy) 8/11, 11/6, 11/8, 11/3 (37m)
 Camille Serme (Fra) 3-1  Amanda Sobhy (Usa) 11/6, 11/9, 10/12, 11/5 (42m)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-0 James Willstrop (Eng) 11/7, 11/5, 13/11 (56m)
 Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-2  Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 11/4, 7/11, 16/14, 3/11, 12/10 (91m)
Sherbini wins all-Egyptian clash
The reigning world champion, Sherbini led for the vast majority of the match, only at the end of the first game did Welily manage to wrest control from her young pretender as she recovered from 4-7 down to take the lead 11-8.
“I’m feeling great definitely,” she said, “it was a very hard match from beginning to end. We just played in the final of Al-Ahram a week ago, she has been playing well the whole week and is on top form, so I didn’t expect I was going to play like this, I’m very happy with my performance.
“I was trying to take the middle of the court away from her, because if she is in front of me, I cannot control the game, that was the plan. But in Al-Ahram, she was on fire, she was killing every shot, and today, although she was playing well, she made a lot of errors.
“Raneem is not just a friend, she is my big sister, I learned so much from her, she is always giving me a lot of advice, and we are always together. So it’s really hard to play against each other, it’s that feeling of wanting to win, but not wanting her to lose.
“I feel I’m getting better with every match, and I’m really happy to be back again in the US Open final. I hope that this time, I can make it.”
Shorbagy back in the final
2014 U.S. Open champion and world No. 1 Mohamed Elshorbagy will make his second career U.S. Open final appearance after a scintillating semifinal victory over former world No. 1 James Willstrop.
In each of the three games it was the Egyptian who capitalized at crucial junctions to pull away from 7-all to win 11-7 in the first, from 6-5 in the second to win 11-5, and fighting off one game ball down 10-11 in a close third to win 13-11. Elshorbagy shot five more winners than the Englishman with eighteen total, and committed three fewer errors to separate the sides.
“Playing James today, I had to play my best squash, my A game,” said Shorbagy. “James has been playing so well this week. He had a tough year and a half, back from injury, how he is getting back to the form he is in, show the great champion he is. He is such a great example for me, for everyone. That’s the kind of players we learn from. So happy I was able to win today, so happy to be back here in the USOpen final for a second year.”
The Egyptian admitted he was happy to see both Willstrop and Nick Matthew in the semifinals.
“I was so happy to see Nick and James back in the semis. The game has been changing for the past year and I feel a bit lonely with the new generation, because for the past 9 years, I’ve been playing with another generation, and I have to get used to different style of play now. I’ve been lucky to be able to play against James and his generation for nine years. They taught me a lot of things, they taught me the mental strength of the game, how to win matches, and I will always be thankful to all of them.”
“When I saw them again in the Semis, I felt well, that my team was back with me again. If I was someone watching squash, I would want to see Nick and James in the final because they are very good for the game. But unfortunately, I’m not watching, I’m playing, and I’m trying to win.”
Camille crushes home hopes
A superb Camille Serme took the wind out of Amanda Sobhy’s sails and the capacity home crowd alike with a clinical four-game semifinal victory to reach her first career U.S. Open final.
The French world No. 7 controlled the opening two games, dictating the pace and keeping the American world no. 6 on the back foot. A rejuvenated Sobhy then fought off a match ball in a close third game to send the match into four.
But Serme regained her composure in the fourth and at 5-all, won six straight points and the match 11-5 in forty-two minutes.
“I’m so happy, I can’t believe it,” said an elated Serme. “It was a really tough battle again tonight. When you lose a match ball in the third game, you have to regroup and refocus. I’m so happy I did it.”
Although Serme committed two more errors than Sobhy, the twenty-seven-year old tallied ten more winners with twenty-seven total, including twelve off the volley.
“The tactic was to stay in front of her and to not let her play her shots,” Serme said. “She played very well and used a lot of lobs, and she hits the ball so hard usually. Today I felt more trouble with her lobs so that’s new. I was so happy with my shots today. I wanted to make today more physical and make the rallies long to tire her out. I’m just so happy to make it to the final.”
Serme will make just her second career PSA World Series final appearance Saturday against El Sherbini. She won her only previous final, the 2015 British Open.
Matthew squeezes out another win
“I don’t know how many U.S. Opens I’ve got left,” said Nick Matthew, the 2007 champion, after prevailing over in-form Karim Abdel Gawad 12-10 in the fifth after an hour and a half’s play, “so I had to leave everything on court to get through that one.”
At the end of the match it was Gawad who had given everything though, he lay sprawled in the back corner after a desperate double dive to stay in the rally on Matthew’s second match ball.
The match started well for the Englishman as he dominated the first game, and led the early part of the second. But as he did last night, Gawad finished the second strongly, taking five points in a row to level the match.
He needed a run of five points to stay in the third too, working his way back to 7-all and setting up a tense, and ultimately crucial ending. 8-all, 9-all, two game balls for Gawad and four for Matthew, who finally retook the lead 16-14, urging the crowd on as he exited the court.
That must have taken a lot out of his, and he let the fourth go in the classic “saving yourself for the fifth” style.
It worked too, but only just. Matthew just about stayed ahead during the decider, 5-3, 6-4 then 9-6. Gawad fought back to 9-all, then Matthew went to match ball as Gawad’s pickup was, after the rally had ended in the Egtpyian’s favour, called not up. The replay seemed to suggest otherwise, much to Gawad’s annoyance but that was deemed ‘inadmissable evidence’.
Anyway, that all seemed to work out as Gawad won the next point for 10-all, but Matthew earned a second match ball, and worked Gawad out of position resulting in that double dive to finish.
So, a third really tough win in a row for Matthew,. He’ll need his rest before taking on the world number one tomorrow …
“I was digging in and on the back foot a lot. He nullified a lot of my strengths – I’m proud of how I managed to problem solve and come through. I tried to start the fifth as well as possible and that put me in a good position.
“Mohamed is a great fighter, but I’m just thrilled to be here, in the U.S. Open final, so I’ll come back tomorrow and do my best and play hard and fair.”