Team USA’s Sabrina Sobhy put in the best performance of her burgeoning career, toppling the world No. 2 Hania El Hammamy in front of a packed Specter Center crowd to reach her first career PSA Platinum quarterfinals Tuesday night at the U.S. Open Squash Championships presented by Truist.
The third round match saw both players in peak performance, putting on a clean display of the sport at its highest level to the entertainment of the crowd. After taking the first game 11-8, Sobhy was on the verge of a 2-0 lead, but the Egyptian fought off two game balls to take the second 15-13. The American world No. 20 then elevated her game to take the third 11-7 and a 9-5 lead in the fifth. El Hammamy put the fans on edge by cutting the deficit to 8-9, and then saving one match ball 10-8 down. Sobhy then clinched the match with the ball ruled out after review to end the sixty-two minute encounter.
“I haven’t processed it yet,” Sobhy said. “It’s been very fast-paced since the end of the match. I felt still and in the present, but there has been a whirlwind of emotions ever since the match ended. I can’t even express how proud I am of myself and how composed I felt on court. It’s a feeling that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life. The crowd made it more fun and enjoyable, it was awesome. Other players can relate, we are trying to put on a show in tournaments, not just for ourselves and our opponents, but for the crowd too. We want to show how awesome, physical and creative this sport it. To have a crowd back you like that shows they appreciate what we’re doing out there on court because it’s fricking hard and I don’t think we get enough credit for how physical we are out there.”
The result marks the first time two Americans have ever reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open together, and the highest-ranked upset of Sobhy’s career. The Specter Center-based twenty-five-year-old will now face New Zealand’s world No. 5 Joelle King in her first career PSA Platinum quarterfinal on Thursday. King defeated Sobhy last week in San Francisco in a best-of-three match at the Oracle NetSuite Open.
“I still can’t believe it,” Sobhy said. “It’s going to boost my confidence, but I think the beauty of this game is that anyone is beatable on any given day. You can gain a bit of confidence, but you still have to stay composed and play your best out there.”
World No. 3 and two seed Nour El Sherbini was on the verge of exiting the tournament alongside the world No. 2, when she sustained a scary slip in the second game against Wales’ Tesni Evans and rolling her ankle in the process. After receiving treatment, El Sherbini conceded the second game 11-7 and a lopsided third game 11-3. The six-time world champion then made a convincing recovery and fired her way to a five-game win 11-6, 11-2.
“I’m happy to be through, it was a tough match and a tough situation for me,” El Sherbini said. “I think this is the best match we’ve played against each other. Maybe I was a bit nervous after I fell, so it was hard for me, but I’m happy with how I kept pushing and stayed strong mentally until the end of the match.”
El Sherbini has won every major title the sport has to offer–except the U.S. Open–despite reaching the finals three times. El Sherbini will face compatriot Salma Hany in the quarterfinals after the eight seed edged Team USA’s Olivia Blatchford Clyne in a tight three games.
“It’s [the ankle] not very bad, but I have to check it tomorrow. I have a day off tomorrow, so I’ll try and treat it and hopefully I’ll be ready after tomorrow.
“I’ve been put in this situation many times. I have experience of playing with injuries and hopefully I’m going to recover and be ready for the rest of the week.”
The four men’s third round matches yielded no surprises as all four seeds advanced in three games, setting up an intriguing lineup for Thursday’s quarterfinal matches.
Three-time U.S. Open champion Mohamed ElShorbagy continues his tear through the draw with twenty-year-old Moustafa El Sirty the latest victim in three games.
“This is a tournament which will always have a special place in my heart,” ElShorbagy said. “The first time I got to world No. 1 was at this event back when it was in November. I remember that day very well, my mother was there with me and it was a very special day to reach world No.1 for the first time in my career. Then I had to play my idol in the final, Amr Shabana, so it’s a special event for me. It’s my 12th quarter-final here at the U.S. Open and I’m very proud of that. I’d rather hear that it’s my 12th U.S. Open win, but I think that’s a bit too much to ask for. ”
ElShorbagy will face New Zealand’s Paul Coll for a spot in the semifinals on Thursday.
“I’ve won three times, but I’d like to go for a fourth. I still have a long way to go, so let’s see, there are a lot of players playing well right now. I’m just happy to be playing better than last season already and I’m looking forward to my next match.”
Wednesday will see the first half of the quarterfinals play out from 5pm ET.