El Welily and El Tayeb Poised for 2017 Final Rematch in U.S. Open Semis; Elias Becomes First South American to Reach Semis

Raneem El Welily (l) and Nour El Tayeb in Wednesday’s quarterfinal action

The sixth annual Women in Sports Day at the FS Investments U.S. Open was appropriately observed with dominant displays from two of the world’s top professionals—Egypt’s Raneem El Welily and Nour El Tayeb—who both advanced to the semifinals in three games Wednesday night at Drexel University’s Daskalakis Athletic Center in Philadelphia.

El Welily was the first player to book her place in the women’s semifinal against England’s world No. 7 Sarah-Jane Perry. Perry fought off multiple game ball in the second game, but El Welily pulled through 14-12 and continued her momentum in the third to take the match in three games 11-6, 14-12, 11-8 in thirty-four minutes.

The match marked El Welily’s 350th career victory on the PSA Tour, but the world No. 1 and defending champion couldn’t get ahead of herself knowing that a dangerous opponent would meet her in the semifinals in either El Tayeb or prodigal Rowan Elaraby.

“I’m so far away from defending my title,” El Welily said. “It used to be very hard for me mentally to play the same person again and again, but since the years have passed, I think I have got used to it. We play one week after the other, and it’s very common that we play the same person back-to-back. It’s just another match, I don’t think of it as a repeat of something that has happened before, it is just a new match and a new opportunity.”

El Tayeb followed on court against Elaraby—the 2017 and 2018 world junior champion. El Tayeb, who won the World Juniors in Boson in 2011, swiftly dispatched her compatriot 11-6, 11-2, 11-7 in twenty-six minutes.

“I’m feeling great on the court and I’m very pleased with how I’m playing,” El Tayeb said. “I can’t wait to get back on here for the semis and hopefully reach another final. I’m happy that I’m reaching the stage where I’m playing Raneem. It’s been a great season so far, she is the best in the world for a reason, but I can’t wait to get on there and play a good match.”

Two years ago, El Tayeb claimed her first career PSA Platinum title in a classic five-game U.S. Open final over El Welily. The two Egyptians have already faced each other twice this season, splitting the two encounters with El Tayeb winning in the final of the China Open and El Welily claiming the Oracle NetSuite Open final.

Diego Elias (l) celebrates clinching match ball

Just one men’s quarterfinal concluded the night following Miguel Angel Rodriguez’s withdrawal from the previously scheduled match that sent Ali Farag through to the semis. An enthralling five-game encounter between Peru’s world No. 7 Diego Elias and Egypt’s world No. 4 Karim Abdel Gawad closed out the night. The match’s momentum swung back and forth with each game until Elias pulled away in the fifth 4-11, 12-10, 11-7, 5-11, 11-7 after eighty minutes.

The result is a momentous one for the twenty-two-year-old who becomes the first South American player ever to reach a U.S. Open semifinal—Elias’ second career semifinal appearance in any PSA Platinum event.

“I’m just so happy with my performance today,” Elias said. “I think I like this place—it was my first quarterfinal here and now my first semifinal here. I’m just really happy to have my dad here and Jonathon Power, he has been helping me for so long and I’m really happy that this is happening. I’m feeling really confident, now I have to recover. I always have good matches with Ali, so I want to be at 100 percent to play well and have another great match with him.”

The second half of the quarterfinals play out Thursday, October 10, starting from 5:30pm local time.