Philadelphia-native Olivia Fiechter became the second American to reach the semifinals of the U.S. Open presented by Truist—joining Amanda Sobhy—while the world’s top three-ranked men all exited the tournament Monday, October 4, at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia.
In one of the most dramatic quarterfinal rounds in U.S. Open history and with more than 500 spectators on hand, the world No. 20 harnessed the home crowd to confidently dispatch Belgium’s Nele Gilis 11-5, 11-5, 11-8 in thirty-seven minutes.
“I was trying to enjoy the moment in front of my home crowd and at this new center they’ve built for American players,” Fiechter said. “I don’t think I could be more pleased with that performance. Throughout the day you go through moments when you’re hanging out in your hotel room and you’re trying not to think about it, but obviously you’re trying to prepare for it and get yourself ready. I was trying to take it point by point and focus on my game plan. I knew if I thought about the situation and the moment too much then things could unravel quickly.”
Fiechter will take on defending champion Nouran Gohar for a place in the title decider, with world No. 2 Gohar beating England’s Sarah-Jane Perry 3-0.
“I was up for it and against SJ you have to play your best to be able to win 3-0 for sure,” Gohar said. “Playing a U.S. player in the semifinal is very exciting. When you have the crowd cheering for anyone, it’s great for our sport and is great for the game. I’ve had this in Egypt and I’m really excited to see it. It happened a few times with Amanda, but to have a new player with the home crowd is great for the sport and I’m very excited for tomorrow.”
The second women’s semifinal will be contested between world No. 1 Nour El Sherbini, who is targeting the last major title to elude her, and three seed Hania El Hammamy will will make her U.S. Open debut.
While the top three women’s seeds all advanced in three games, the same could not be said for the men with the top three seeds and top three-ranked men in the world–Ali Farag, Mohamed ElShorbagy and Paul Coll–all bowing out.
Twenty-year-old Mostafa Asal recorded the first upset of the day, extending his unbeaten record against world No. 3 Paul Coll in a 103-minute, four-game marathon match to open the day 11-8, 9-11, 11-5, 11-7.
“It was 103 minutes! Really!? Me and Paul every time we play it’s a battle,” Asal said. “To play four games in 103 minutes is unbelievable. I think mentally, I’m strong, I’m here, even with distractions from my shoulder issues. I’m trying to play another game, more defensive play, and it helps my game because I’m trying to adapt. Today was a very interesting match, free flowing. The crowd makes me on fire in Egypt and here as well it was doing an awesome job. The States is my second home and I’m happy to move through against Diego. I’m looking forward to this battle against him.”
Asal will face Diego Elias who is set for his second straight U.S. Open semifinal appearance, after the Peruvian came back from a game down to defeat three-time U.S. Open champion ElShorbagy in four games.
“I’m happy to win, but I think this was the worst match we’ve played together,” Elias said. “I could see he wasn’t playing that well and I was a bit nervous at the start, I didn’t know if I should start putting pace on the ball because he’s good at that, or try to play smart. In the first game he was playing really smart, hitting the perfect shots and I got a bit frustrated. I’m happy that I could start thinking a bit more and start running. I tried to get every shot and make it long. It was 8-8 in the second game, and if I lost that one it would have been a disaster. Being 2-0 down against Shorbagy, you’re almost finished. I needed to win that game and then I could see he started slowing down, so I kept going and stayed strong.”
Wales’ Joel Makin ensured that a new name will grace the men’s U.S. Open trophy with his first career win against world No. 1 and defending champion Ali Farag 11-5, 11-7, 16-14 in sixty-four minutes. Makin will face Egypt’s Tarek Momen who ended James Willstrop’s vintage run in four games.
“I was frustrated coming into it, I’ve lost in too many quarterfinals now and I’m not happy staying around there,” Makin said. “I brought a lot of intensity into the match and I took it to him. I don’t want the match to be us saying ‘great shot’ and clapping each other’s shots, I wanted to take it to him, get across the middle and dominate the court. What’s got me to here is closing the court down and being tough. That will get you to 10 in the world, that will always be there, that’s not something I need to worry about, but you have to take the shot when it’s there. These guys are so skillful, they take the balls off their feet.”
Tuesday’s semifinals will be staged at the Specter Center beginning at 6pm ET.