Team USA’s Olivia Fiechter and Amanda Sobhy delivered U.S. Open second round victories following the Arlen Specter US Squash Center Grand Opening Ceremony Saturday night in Philadelphia, and will face each other in the round of 16 on Sunday, October 3.
Amanda Sobhy, who was making her first appearance since reaching a new career high ranking of world No. 3, continued where she left off in San Francisco with a comprehensive 11-4, 11-2, 11-9 win over Hong Kong’s Ka Yi lee.
The twenty-eight-year-old said she’s focused on more success on home soil after claiming the Oracle NetSuite Open title last week–the first major professional title of her career.
“I’m still staying in tunnel vision and I’ll enjoy the win in San Francisco after this tournament when I have a rest,” Sobhy said. “It was a nice feeling to wake up on Friday and see the hard work paying off, but the job’s not done and there is still this week to go. I’m in my element, I love to perform and I’m at a stage in my life where I’m ready to step into this role, be a leader and accept the pressure that comes with it.”
Sunday’s third round will feature an all-American match up with Sobhy set to face Fiechter, who recorded her first career win over world No. 23 Donna Lobban in their fourth PSA match up 11-6, 11-4, 11-5. Fiechter will make her second career third round appearance in a Platinum event against her training partner Sunday night at 6:45pm ET.
“I’m very happy, I don’t think I’ve played that late at night since the juniors, but playing at this venue, put me up any time of the day and I’ll be psyched!” Fiechter said. “I’m so happy because the last time we played I lost out 13-11 in the fifth, so I was really up for a battle today and with an experienced player like Donna I was going to have to come out all guns blazing. I’m very pleased with my performance and to get through in three. Playing with a home crowd at the Specter Center is as good as it gets. I’ve family and friends here, including my first ever squash coach, who drove up from Virginia to come and watch me. And my coach Graeme Williams, who’s been such an important part of my team, was able to watch me for the first time in person. I’m so pleased I could put in a good performance for them and to make it to my first round of 16 is so exciting. I’m pumped to be playing Amanda in the next round. Amanda and I train a lot together and we always have battles in practice. She knows I’m coming for her I think. I’m really looking forward to an all-American showdown.”
Sabrina Sobhy and Olivia Blatchford Clyne both fell short of joining their U.S. teammates in the third round. Defending champion and world No. 2 Nouran Gohar ended Sobhy’s hopes of a home court win, and Nadine Shahin delivered a four-game upset against world No. 11 Blatchford Clyne in a narrow four games.
The men’s draw produced a vintage performance from thirty-eight-year-old James Willstrop, who in his seventeenth career U.S. Open appearance upset world No. 6 Marwan ElShorbagy in an entertaining encounter 9-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-8.
“I feel in shock a bit at the minute,” said the former world No. 1. “I haven’t been anywhere near that level really. I think experience counts for a lot, but he’s a great champion. I thought the way he played today and handled himself was great. It’s not easy being on the wrong end of it. I was playing well and he just handled himself so well at the end there, really lost in a champion’s way and I admire that, he was a top man today.”
“I just love the U.S. audiences, who are always unbelievable,” Willstrop added. “They get behind someone and give it an atmosphere and they tell you what they think and what they mean. It’s wonderful to play in front of that and it’s great, after the last couple of years, to see a stadium like this. It’s what it’s all about really. To be back here playing is a bit of a dream and to play in an atmosphere like this with a great crowd. It’s just wonderful and I feel lucky, really.”
Welshmen Joel Makin produced the other top ten upset of the day in the men’s draw, taking out world No. 6 Karim Abdel Gawad for the first time in their sixth PSA appearance.
“He’s a class player when he’s on and is so dangerous,” Makin said. “I knew I had to be aggressive with him and get across the middle and hit him off the ball, get on top of him and don’t let him play his shots. I wanted to inject pace and be aggressive. When I did that, I got on top of him.”
View all results on usopensquash.com/draws.
Sunday sees the tournament shift to match play on just the two glass courts with sixteen round of sixteen matches starting from 12pm noon. Tickets starting from $15 are available on usopensquash.com/tickets.