Day Six – Round Two Concludes

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Defending champions through as Sobhy keeps home hopes alive

sp_22193On the second day of round two action on the ASB GlassCourt at Drexel the quarter-finalists in the bottom half of the draws were settled.

There were no upsets today as defending champions Laura Massaro and Gregory Gaultier came safely through, joined by home favourite Amanda Sobhy and former champion Nick Matthew who survived a five game final match of the day.

Round Two, bottom half:

[4] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-0 [14] Emily Whitlock (Eng)           11/7, 11/8, 18/16 (42m)
[7] Amanda Sobhy (Usa)
3-0 Donna Urquhart (Aus)               11/7, 5/11, 11/5, 11/5 (37m)
[6] Camille Serme
(Fra) 3-0 [12] Annie Au (Hkg)                        11/5, 11/6, 11/6 (27m)
[2] Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-0 [9] Joshna Chinappa (Ind)           11/5, 11/5, 11/6 (27m)

[4] Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-2 Simon Rösner (Ger)                         11/4, 6/11, 9/11, 11/6, 11/8 (77m)
Ali Farag
(Egy) 3-0 Fares Dessouky (Egy                                          11/7, 13/11, 8/3 rtd (36m)
[5] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 3-2 Max Lee (Hkg)                        4/11, 11/8, 9/11, 12/10, 11/6 (74m)
 [2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-0 [Q] Paul Coll (Nzl)                       11/7, 11/7, 11/6 (52m)

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Serme sails through

France’s Camille Serme is through to her third consecutive U.S. Open quarterfinal after a confident three-game victory against Hong Kong’s Annie Au.

sp_22249The world No. 7 controlled their first match on tour against each other in five years, earning an 11-5, 11-6, 11-6 win twenty-seven minutes.

“I knew I had to try making the pace faster and hit the ball harder because you don’t want to fall asleep on the court,” said Serme.

sp_22251“She’s very good with lobs and drops, so any time I didn’t have good length she attacked.”

Serme has now notched two three-game wins with less than an hour on court after two rounds. The 2015 British Open champion awaits either two seed Laura Massaro or India’s Joshna Chinappa in the quarterfinals.

“I like this tournament, I like the rest days. It’s good to have one more day to prepare for the next match,” she added.

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Gawad grabs it in the fifth

The first men’s match of the day pitched two of the in-form players against each other in Karim Abdel Gawad and Max Lee, both of whom made breakthroughs to reach their first World Series semi-finals in Hong Kong.

sp_22257Gawad went on to the HK final and captured the Al-Ahram title in Cario, but Lee had won both their previous meetings, both in 2014, and it was the Hong Kong man who made the better start, outplaying Gawad to to the first 11-4. The Egyptian struck back quickly, taking the second 11-8 and opening up 3-0 in the third, but Lee continued to press and retook the lead 11-9.

sp_22258Gawad looked to have regained some control in the fourth, but from 5-7 Lee again responded. Having to work hard to stay in it, Gawad advanced to 10-8, lost both game balls to strokes he felt were ‘cheap’ but took the next two points to level again.

sp_22272From 4-all in the second Gawad managed to edge ahead 7-4, and although Lee closed to 6-7 the Egyptian took the final four points to delightedly clinch his first place in the U.S. Open last eight.

“I can’t believe I’m in the quarters,” said a relieved Gawad. “Like always it was a tough one. I don’t think I played my best but he played so well and was close to a 3-1 win, I had to work so hard in the third and fourth to stay in it.

“I think my coaches Abdel Aziz and Shabana worked even harder than me today, they gave me about six plans to win that match!”

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Gohar through to first quarter

Egyptian world No. 4 Nouran Gohar will make her U.S. Open quarterfinal debut after a tough three-game victory over England’s world No. 16 Emily Whitlock.

sp_22271The nineteen-year-old from Cairo fought off two Whitlock leads in the second and a marathon third game. Whitlock held five game balls in the third game and fought off three match balls before Gohar closed out the forty-two-minute match 18-16.

sp_22269“We’ve played each other since juniors,” said Gohar. “We played in U19 finals a few times. She’s a tough opponent. You have to be focused 100% on court to beat her three-love.

“We have different kinds of games. I like to play hard hitting and fast pace. She slows down the pace and plays a lot of lobs. So it was more of a contrast. The last game came down to whoever was imposing their pace would win the game.”

“I’m excited for it for sure. It’s my first U.S. Open quarterfinal. The last two times I lost in the round of sixteen so I’m glad to make the quarters and I’m looking forward to the next match.”

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Farag through in three

sp_22273In the only all-Egyptian match of the second round, Ali Farag went through in straight games as Fares Dessouky retired towards the end of the third.

Farag had dominated a quick first game and looked on top in the second before Dessouky fought back to force extra points only to lose it 13/11.

Farag quickly forged ahead in the third and at 8-3 Dessouky offered his hand – feeling unwell rather than a specific injury – and Farag was through to the last eight.

sp_22274“I hope he’s ok and that whatever it is isn’t too bad,” said Farag. “It was a tough game but I though I was playing well today. I was playing aggressive squash and I was 100% focused out there.

“It’s been a tough draw for me so far but I’m delighted to be through to the quarters for the first time.”

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Massaro despatches Chinappa in three

Defending champion Laura Massaro notched her second three-game victory of the tournament over India’s nine seed Joshna Chinappa.

sp_22282The English world No. 2 will make her sixth-consecutive U.S. Open quarterfinal appearance after seeing off Chinappa in just under half an hour.

“She’s a really difficult player, if you let her play all of her shots she’s unbelievable.” said Massaro. “It’s a fine line, if you’re not 100% on your game plan and give these girls a chance they’re too good. Really happy with the amount of pressure I was able to create with my movement and hitting. Happy to get off three nil.”

sp_22285“I felt like I found my length a lot better today than I did in my first match. I got a lot of shape on the ball, and tried to work all of the corners. That was after I had an amazing technical session yesterday with my coach, DP. It’s great when things like that click in the middle of a tournament. I feel like it paid off.”

Massaro will face 2015 British Open champion Camille Serme in their first PSA match up since the French world No. 7 defeated in the 2015 final in Hull.

“Any quarterfinal these days could be anyone’s. Last time we played at the British Open I wasn’t at my best and she played really well. Pressure is off in a way in the quarterfinals, just really looking forward to it.”

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Defending Champion Gaultier sees off Superman

Gregory Gaultier continued his title defence with a solid three-nil win over Kiwi qualifier Paul Coll.

sp_22292The Frenchman was in control in the first game and although Coll established leads in the middle of the next two games, Gaultier never let the gaps grow as he overhauled his opponent, who threw in a couple of trademark dives but also made a few too many errors for his own liking.

“Every game was tough until about 6-all and then I just managed to up the pace which I think made the difference,” said Gaultier.

“There were a lot of tough long rallies and he was reading me well, so I’m pleased it ended three-nil.”

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Sobhy through to quarters

U.S. champion Amanda Sobhy treated the home crowd to another home victory, a second-round win against Australia’s Donna Urquhart.

sp_22297Sobhy conceded a game in the second, 11-5, but responded by maintaining leads throughout the third and fourth to close the match out in four games and thirty-seven minutes.

“It feels amazing. To be in the quarters of the U.S. Open is huge. Hoping to go further in front of such an amazing crowd. Love playing in front of a home crowd on home turf. Just trying to do the best I can for everyone here.

sp_22301“Donna is a fighter and a very good player,” said Sobhy. She got me a few times on the holds. Fortunately, she clipped a couple of tins which were a few gifts to me. I’m happy I stuck in and pulled through in the end.”

Sobhy and Gohar met just a few months ago in the final of the Hong Kong Open, which Gohar claimed in four games. Despite losing in the Hong Kong final, Sobhy holds a 3-1 career record against Gohar.

“Nouran is on the rise. She’s played amazing squash over the past year. She’s a player in form. We had a close match up in the Hong Kong final. Looking forward to hopefully getting some redemption on Thursday, but just hoping to play well.”

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Matthew toughs it out

Starting a match with a 13-0 – or 0-13 – record against your opponent has to put some added pressure on you, but Nick Matthew and Simon Rosner (it was Englishman Matthew protecting the unbeaten record)  played out a final second round match that was full of qualify and kept the Drexel crowd entertained, and unsure of the outcome until the end.

sp_22311Matthew, champion here in 2007, started the better as he pulled away from 4-all to take the first 11-4, but Rosner struck back to take the next two, Matthew receiving some treatment on his back during the intervals.

sp_22308He got a great start to the fourth though, leading 9-0 before Rosner got a few points back, and although the German held the early advantage in the decider, Matthew was back in typically determined mood as he closed out a satisfying win.

sp_22310“I was almost down and out at two-one down,” he said, “and after a bump I needed some treatment on my back. But my team still had faith in me so I decided I should too. I got a good start to the fifth, relaxed a bit before taking that game, but knew I had to keep concentrating through the fifth.

“I haven’t won a match like that in a while so that’s very satisfying.”

Matthew faces a very different challenge in the quarter-finals in Egypt’s Ali Farag, but has a rest day to reflect and recover.

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