Philadelphia-native Olivia Fiechter upset U.S. teammate and world No. 3 Amanda Sobhy in five games on their new home courts at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center to reach her first career Platinum quarterfinal at the U.S. Open presented by Truist in Philadelphia.
One day after the official opening of the Specter Center where Fiechter and Sobhy train together, the two Americans met competitively on the PSA tour for the fourth time on their new home courts with Sobhy holding a 3-0 head to head record, and both with career high rankings of world No. 20 and 3, respectively.
Fiechter had only previously pushed Sobhy to four games once on the pro tour, but earned a 2-1 lead with momentum leading into the fourth at the Specter Center. After Sobhy forced a decisive fifth game, Fiechter squandered a 6-1 lead in the fifth as Sobhy came back to level the score at 9-all. Fiechter then pulled away to convert on her first match ball and win the match 11-9.
“I’m trying to process it one second at a time,” Fiechter said. “Amanda and I play at least once a week, every week, especially since she moved to Philly. I knew I was getting closer in practice matches, and I’ve been feeling really good on court this week. I was feeling optimistic and thought that if I played my best squash I had a shot, but I wasn’t foreseeing it would be that close.”
The result is the twenty-six-year-old’s first career top five upset that sends the Princeton graduate into her first Platinum quarterfinal. Fiechter’s quarterfinal opponent is Belgium’s world No. 15 Nele Gilis, who outlasted Canada’s Hollie Naughton to reach her first career U.S. Open quarterfinal.
“She’s one of my closest friends on tour, she’s been a mentor to me since I’ve gone pro, she’s been like a big sister to me and has given me so much advice,” Fiechter said. “She’s at a career-high ranking of world No. 3 right now and she’s been playing well. To get a win over a top ten player is another level you have to go to, so I’m over the moon.”
After upsetting world No. 6 Marwan ElShorbagy on Saturday, thirty-eight-year-old James Willstrop continued his vintage run into his eighth career U.S. Open quarterfinals, seventeen years after making his tournament debut. The former world No. 1 and current world No. 31 pulled out a five-game upset over Egpyt’s world No. 15 Mohamed Abouelghar 11-9, 7-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-3 in sixty-three minutes.
“I haven’t played these level of matches in three days for a long time,” Willstrop said. “I can’t expect too much of myself. I just love it, this is a great tournament, I don’t know how longer I’ll be able to do this sort of stuff, so I’ll just get stuck in.”
Egypt’s world No. 1 and world No. 2 Ali Farag and Mohamed ElShorbagy both weathered four game challenges from countrymen Mazen Hesham and Youssef Soliman, respectively.
Farag, the defending champion, is aiming to equal ElShorbagy’s three U.S. Open titles and will face a difficult quarterfinal opponent in the form of Wales’ world No. 9 Joel Makin.
“I couldn’t be happier with my game, I’m moving well, I’m feeling the ball well and I have confidence, but tomorrow is a very different challenge,” Farag said. “Joel is a very physical player, he doesn’t give anything away. We played last week in San Francisco, but it was freezing cold, so I’m sure tomorrow is going to be a good one.”