It’s Annie at Last on Day Five at Drexel

It’s Annie at last as Egyptian favourites advance Daryl ensures English semi-finalist

Day Five of the U.S. Open Squash Championships presented by Macquarie Investment Management saw eight second round matches on the ASB Glass Court at Philadelphia’s Drexel University as the quarter-finalists in the top halves of the Men’s and Women’s PSA World Series draws were decided.

In the women’s draw top seed and World #1 Nour El Sherbini enjoyed a quick win over an injured opponent, setting up an all-Egyptian quarter-final with tenth seed Nour El Tayeb, who beat fellow Egyptian Salma Hany in four tough games.

Two-time champion Laura Massaro won an all-English tussle with Emily Whitlock to reach her 9th straight U.S. Open quarter-final, where she’ll meet unexpected opposition in the form of Hong Kong’s Annie Au, who recorded a first-ever victory over three-time champion Nicol David in five tense games.

Men’s defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy continued his impressive start to the tournament with an interrupted four-game win over fellow-Egyptian Mohamed Abouelghar, and he’ll meet Simon Rosner for a place in the semis after the German ended the run of Mexico’s Cesar Salazar in four.

An English semi-finalist is assured after former champion Nick Matthew reached his 12th – and last -quarter-final in 12 appearances with a straight-game win over French qualifier Gregoire Marche and Daryl Selby prevailed in a 100-minute five game marathon over seventh seeded Egyptian Tarek Momen.

Day Six will see the quarter-finalist in the bottom halves of the draws on Tuesday, starting at noon.


Massaro through to a ninth quarter-final
[4] Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-0 [12] Emily Whitlock (Eng) 13-11, 11-6, 11-6 (32m)

The first match of round two was an all-English matchup between two-time U.S. Open Champion Laura Massaro and Emily Whitlock, who had beaten former champion Jenny Duncalf in another all-English matchup in round one.

There was nothing in it in the first game as they traded points – and a few errors each too – but it was the experienced Massaro who kept edging ahead in the endgame, taking the lead 13-11 on her third game ball.

Massaro, now cutting out the errors, dominated the second to double her lead 11-6 and continued in that vein in the third. Whitlock reduced the deficit, getting as close as 7-6, but Massaro accelerated away to take the game 11-6 to reach her 9th consecutive U.S. Open quarter-final.

“You never really know how you are playing until the match starts,” said Massaro, who had an ankle injury in her opening match, ” but I’m really happy, especially with the first game going to a tie-break it could have gone either way so I’m really pleased to win 3-0.

“I know what her strengths and weaknesses are and I guess it’s just trying to be more disciplined at those plans that you set out before the match. I know that if I get those plans right then I am very difficult to beat but it’s not always easy to get those plans right.

“It was a shame thinking before that the match was so early today but now I’ve come through 3-0 I’m happy to be off and through to the next round.”

Selby comes through a marathon
Daryl Selby (Eng) 3-2 [7] Tarek Momen (Egy) 11-9, 8-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-8 (102m)

England’s Daryl Selby produced the first upset of the round as he beat Egypt’s seventh-seeded Tarek Momen in a marathon five-setter.

The first three games all saw big swings of momentum – Selby led 8-2 in the first but only took it 11-9, he led 6-2 in the second but Momen recovered to level 11-9, then Selby overturned deficits of 1-6, 3-8 and 7-10 to regain the lead 12-10.

No such swings in the next two games though, as the pair traded points, long rallies interuupted by frequent decisions, queries and court cleaning led to a stop-start spectacle.

The Egyptian pulled clear at the end of the fourth to set up a decider, but at 8-all in the fifth a couple of tins cost Momen dearly as Selby advanced to match ball, secured at the first attempt as Momen hit the ball back to himself for a stroke to the Englishman.

“I don’t know what to say, it was an up and down match,”said Selby.

“I felt like I was in control for long periods but then I was also under the cosh for periods as well,  he’s so fast and dangerous around the court.

“I’m proud of how I dug in and showed some fight and determination especially in the fifth. I think I kept my focus a little longer than him throughout that game , the difference was just a few mistakes in the end.”


Tayeb wins 'flip of the coin' all-Egyptian match
[10] Nour El Tayeb (Egy) 3-1 Salma Hany Ibrahim (Egy) 8-11, 14-12, 13-11, 11-6 (56m)

2015 finalist Nour El Tayeb came through a difficult second round encounter against her Egyptian training partner Salma Hany Ibrahim.

Ibrahim, world No. 19, started on the front foot, pulling away from 8-all to take the first game 11-8.

A crucial second game saw Ibrahim fight off a 8-3 deficit to get within reach 8-9. El Tayeb earned two game balls, but Ibrahim fought off both and went on to earn her own up 11-10. El Tayeb replied with two points of her own to earn a third game ball, which Ibrahim again repelled to level at 12-all. The world No. 14 finally clinched the fifteen-minute game 14-12 to level the game score at 1-1.

Ibrahim regained control of the match early in the third game, sprinting to an 8-3 lead. El Tayeb chipped away at the lead and emphatically pulled off two winners from 7-9 down to level the score. El Tayeb then converted the game on the third game ball to earn a 2-1 advantage.

The fourth was all El Tayeb, who maintained her lead to win the match 11-6 after fifty-six minutes.

“I knew that she had beaten Sarah Jane, so that she had to be in fine form,” El Tayeb said of Ibrahim. “But to be honest, we practice all the time, and her game in a real match is five times as it is in practice, so she caught me completely by surprise tonight.

“At the end of the second and in the third, I thought I was losing the match. So to come out as the winner, is unbelievable.”

The result sees El Tayeb progress to the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the first time since her 2015 final run.

“Going 2/1 down is not an ideal situation, and I was sure she would have taken a lot of confidence out of it.,” El Tayeb said. “So I told myself, try to hit the ball as hard as you can, and keep it to the back, don’t do anything silly.

“Thankfully it was a flip of a coin at the end, and I’m very happy it went my way.”

Sherbini through as Lust retires
[1] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-0 [14] Victoria Lust (Eng) 11-2, 7-2 rtd (10m)

Top seed and World #1 Nour El Sherbini had an easy passage to her fourth U.S. Open quarter-final in a row as Enngland’s Victoria Lust pulled up injured early in the second game.

The Egyptian dominated a quick first game, winning it 11-2, and at 7-2 Lust, who apparently awoke this morning suffering from a trapped nerve in her back, offered her hand to concede the match.

“It’s not the way you want to finish a match, but I’m back in the quarter-finals,” said Sherbini. “I’m sure it will be a tough match but hopefully everyone will enjoy it!”

Matthew manages to control Marche
[3] Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-0 Gregoire Marche (Fra) 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 (48m)

2007 U.S. Open champion Nick Matthew got down to business for his second round match against France’s Gregoire Marche, who pulled off a thrilling five-game comeback in the first round.

Matthew took the first two games and then recovered from an early third game deficit to lead 9-6 in the third —the same scoreline that saw the world No. 26 spark his first-round comeback.

Marche couldn’t do the same against Matthew though, as the number three seed pushed on to claim the match 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 in forty-eight minutes.

“I played pretty well the first round, but then I’ve got to do it against a high caliber player in the next round, and if you go further and further in a tournament, that caliber player goes up and up as the rankings get tougher,” Matthew said.  

“You saw that in the second game with Greg, he’s a very tough player and I managed to just control the stage and the way I played.”

The Englishman, playing in his 12th and last U.S.  Open, will play his 12th quarter-final on Wednesday.

Title defence on track for Shorbagy
[2] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-1 Mohamed Abouelghar (Egy) 11-8, 7-11, 11-2, 11-6 (53m)

Defending champion Mohamed Elshorbagy – now the highest remaining seed in the event – continued his impressive start to the tournament with an interrupted win over compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar.

Elshorbagy had the upper hand in a first game that was interrupted by frequent court maintenance due to the humidity and sweat causing problems on the floor. Shorbagy took the first 11-8, but at 3-1 to Abouelghar in the second the decision was taken to suspend the match to allow the air conditioning to improve court conditions.

Play resumed after around half an hour, and Abouelghar continued to advance, levelling the match 11-7. It was all Shorbagy in the next two games, powering through the third 11-2 and moving ahead to claim a commanding lead in the fourth.

Abouelghar reduced the deficit, but there was to be no comeback here as Elshorbagy advanced 11-6 to his eighth successive U.S. Open quarter-final.

“I thought he dealt with the situation very well to be honest,” said ElShorbagy, “I’m supposed to be the more experience one but he actually came back in that second game and played really well.

“He has been playing well and recently won in Macau, so he is young, hungry and a really talented player and so I’m really pleased to come through in four today and I finished the match very strongly, getting my concentration level up  from 4-all, that was when I had to take charge.”

It's Annie at Last !!!
[9] Annie Au (Hkg) 3-2 [6] Nicol David (Mas) 11-5, 11-5, 10-12, 8-11, 11-7 (56m)

Annie Au achieved two milestones in her match against three-time U.S. Open champion Nicol David—her first victory against David in their eighteenth PSA match up and her first career victory on the U.S. Open ASB GlassCourt.

The Hong Kong world No. 17 was shooting the lights out in the first two games, opening each with 5-0 leads, and nearly flawlessly executing her volleys and drops to move David around the court and close out the points in the front of the court.

David, the eight-time world champion and world No. 6, appeared to be on the brink of a swift defeat but regained her composure while Au’s accuracy began to fade in the third and fourth.

The momentum shifted again in the fifth when Au’s shot-making got back on target as the world no. 9 clinched the match 11-7 after fifty-six minutes.

“I’m so happy to have finally won against Nicol! We’ve played so many times over the years, she’s beaten me every time in PSA  and in Asian games, Asian Champs, Asian Teams, and I’d never even taken her to five games before!” Au said.

“I started off sticking to the game plan my coach had given me and it worked well. But Nicol is such a fighter, and she came back, I made some errors and didn’t stick to the plan when I was a few points ahead in the fourth.

“My coach told me at the start of the fifth that this was the start of the match, just start again, I did, and I’m so happy it worked!

“I’d planned to leave tomorrow so I have to change my travel arrangements, but that’s ok, I’m really happy!”


Rosner ends Salazar run
Simon Rosner (Ger) 3-1 Cesar Salazar (Mex) 11-8, 11-8, 11-13, 11-1 (56m)

Simon Rosner finished off a long day at Drexel with victory over Mexico’s Cesar Salazar, who yesterday took out James Willstrop.

The German was always ahead in the first two games, and held match ball in the third only to see Salazar determinedly pull a game back.

The comeback fizzled out in the third though, as Rosner romped ahead.

“Cesar has played well this tournament and I have played him a few times but his speed today was amazing and he made it difficult for me to make points,” admitted Rosner.

“It’s vital in that kind of situation to get a good start.

“Mentally to focus from the beginning and get your length in and I think that was the difference from the game before, he picked me off with his speed and I just tried to get my balls deep in the corners and that helped.”


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