Nineteen-year-old Egyptian Rowan Elaraby saved two match balls before coming back to pull off the biggest upset of her career over world No. 6 Joelle King, while 2017 champions Ali Farag and Nour El Tayeb safely progressed to the quarterfinals Monday, October 7, at Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center in Philadelphia.
Elaraby, the 2017 and 2018 world junior champion, had already enjoyed a successful start to the weekend in Philadelphia, recording just her second career top-twenty upset over England’s world No. 14 Victoria Lust in Sunday’s second round. Monday’s stage on the ASB GlassCourt yielded the biggest result of her burgeoning career, however. Elaraby surprised King to take the opener 11-7, but the Kiwi regained control of the match, taking the second 11-7 and swiftly taking the third 11-2. King, a three-time U.S. Open semifinalist, held two match balls up 10-8 in the fourth, both of which Elaraby fought off to take the game 12-10. A close fifth game saw Elaraby get a crucial stroke to earn her first match ball at 10-8, which she converted to close out the fifty-five-minute match.
“I’m out of words,” Elaraby said. “I’m really happy with how I played and how I managed to go through the match. I can’t believe it. I feel as though what I was working on in the off season has been paying off now. My coach, Mohamed Effat, has worked with me so hard during the summer, so I’m really happy that I was able to play my best squash. My coach just said that I didn’t have anything to lose and just give it my all and that’s what I did.”
The result sends the Alexandria native through to her first career quarterfinals of a PSA Platinum event Wednesday, where she will meet compatriot and world No. 5 Nour El Tayeb. El Tayeb, the 2017 champion, dispatched reigning world junior champion Hania El Hammamy in three games in Monday’s final women’s match to earn her spot in the quarterfinals.
“I’m very happy to be the winner, Hania is an extremely tough competitor,” El Tayeb said. “She grew up at the same club as me. She’s like a younger sister and I’m very happy to see her playing so well, but I’m happy to take this one in three and go through to the quarterfinals. This court holds a lot of special memories for me. It was my first major title and doing it with Ali was extremely special and even though I had a bad result here last year, I still feel very happy and emotional coming here.”
El Tayeb and Elaraby will meet for the first time on the PSA World Tour in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. El Tayeb credited world No. 1 Raneem El Welily, the first Egyptian women to earn the world’s top ranking, for paving the way for the rising tide of top-ranked Egyptian women. El Welily decisively ended the run of one of said up and coming Egyptians, Yathreb Adel, in three games and just twenty-one minutes.
“Raneem is the one who paved the way for all of us and we are all catching up with her and Nour El Sherbini,” El Tayeb said. “I think we’ve got a good generation passing on experience and knowledge to the next generation and it’s a nice period to be a part of.”
Farag, El Tayeb’s husband and world No. 1, followed her on court in the final match of the day against England’s Adrian Waller. Despite close second and third games, the Harvard graduate advanced 11-3, 11-9, 11-8 in thirty-four minutes.
“I feel good,” Farag said. “I played well against a really tough opponent. I don’t know what it is about the lefties but they all hit the ball so cleanly, especially with Adrian as well, he holds it before he hits it so he keeps you unsettled on the ‘T’ and I can’t take it as early as I would like. The first I was able to impose that, but he changed that in the second and the third. I’m really happy and feeling sharp and looking forward to progressing through to the quarterfinals. Everyone is playing really well and everyone is really sharp and wants to do well this season. The season is still young but I hope I can achieve as much as last season and give it my all.”
Peru’s Pan Am Games gold medalist Diego Elias was one player that displayed his sharpness and hunger for a first PSA World Platinum title. In what was anticipated have the potential for a five-game marathon against one of the tour’s hottest players, Wales’ Joel Makin, Elias controlled the match and ended it in three 11-5, 11-9, 11-8 in fifty minutes.
“I feel good, I lost a bit of fitness after winning the Pan Ams, but after that I started training again and I have another goal, which is to win one of these big events,” Elias said. “I’m really happy, I knew this was going to be really tough, he’s a really tough player, he’s so physical and fit and I knew it could have been 100 minutes, so I’m really happy I managed to win in three.”
Elias made his debut in a Platinum quarterfinals at the U.S. Open in 2017 and hopes to go one further against four seed Karim Abdel Gawad on Wednesday.
“My father and I try to go to all of these events together and all of this wouldn’t be happening if it was not for him,” Elias said. “I’m really happy he can come to these tournaments with me, and I really hope I can win one of these big ones.”
The second half of the round of sixteen will play out on Tuesday, October 7, with eight matches slated on the glass court starting at 1:30pm local time.