Team USA’s Amanda Sobhy pulled off the biggest result of the 2018 FS Investments U.S. Open so far, dethroning women’s defending champion Nour El Tayeb in a five-game comeback Monday night at Drexel University’s Daskalakis Athletic Center.
El Tayeb, world No. 3, stepped onto the ASB GlassCourt for the first time since last October when she claimed the first PSA World Tour Platinum title of her career. At first it seemed as though no time had passed. In the first two games, El Tayeb executed the same devastating shot-making that saw her cast aside the world’s best last year.
Buoyed by a vocal home crowd, Sobhy dug in during the third game. She regained her composure and provided fewer opportunities for El Tayeb to attack on her way to an 8-3 lead. El Tayeb came firing back however, rattling off six straight points to go within two points of clinching the match up 9-8. Sobhy then used precision of her own to slot two winners and then slammed the door shut with an emphatic volley nick to clinch the game 12-10.
From the start of the fourth game onwards, Sobhy used her momentum to her advantage, hitting winners and forcing errors from El Tayeb to claim the fourth game 11-6, and maintaining a lead in the fifth until she earned four match balls and capitalized on her first opportunity.
“It’s a special win for me,” said Sobhy, who currently sits at No. 18 in the world rankings. “I was thinking about this match since the summer. I know how good she is and she won it last year, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I narrowly lost to her in five at this year’s British Open and I knew that I’m right there with the top three still, but I just need to break through and I’m so pleased with how I fought back today and having my whole support team here is huge for me and a big confidence booster. The fact that I came back from 2-0 down and fought and just physically came back and mentally dug in is just massive.”
Sobhy reached the U.S. Open semifinals in 2016, but missed out last year’s tournament due to a torn Achilles suffered in March 2017. Sobhy’s quarterfinal opponent on Wednesday will be France’s Camille Serme, who defeated Sobhy in the 2016 semifinal en route to winning the tournament. Last week in San Francisco, Serme defeated Sobhy in four games in the second round of the Oracle NetSuite Open.
“It’s amazing to be back here,” Sobhy said. “I missed it last year, I was down here, but it was a really rough time for me with my progress just being stalled, and I was really hopeless. Coming back here, it’s the biggest and most prestigious tournament in the U.S. and I did my rehab in Philly so it is a second home for me. I love having the crowd on my side and I thrive on that. It’s a huge energy booster for me and I hope they just keep on rallying behind me.”
Sobhy provided one of two five-game upsets on the women’s side, with the first courtesy of Egypt’s world No. 30 Yathreb Adel, who knocked out compatriot Salma Hany. Adel had already upset world No. 7 Nouran Gohar in Saturday’s second round. Adel will have another opportunity to upset a fellow Egyptian on Wednesday when she faces world No. 1 Nour El Sherbini.
The first four men’s quarterfinalists were determined according to ranking, but not entirely according to seeding. Egypt’s Mohamed Abouelghar opened the 2018-2019 PSA season in stellar form by claiming the China Open last month, which shot him up to world No. 9 this month. Abouelghar continued his fine form in Philly by dispatching world No. 10 and seven seed Karim Abdel Gawad in three games. “I would say that was my finest performance today and I had to be at my best to beat someone like Karim,” Abouelghar said. “We have played over 200 times in training and we always go to five-setters, but today, I thought ‘forget everything and just adapt to whatever he throws at me,’ and I’m happy it worked out well.”
Abouelghar will face world No. 1 Mohamed ElShorbagy in Wednesday’s quarterfinals after the top seed managed to hold off India’s Saurav Ghosal in a tight three games. “I will just take it one match at a time and hopefully the results will come,” Abouelghar said. “I know sometimes I put too much pressure on myself, but now I just let the results take care of themselves.”
Tuesday will decide the remaining four quarterfinalists in both draws with match play set to commence from 12:00pm.
View all results on usopensquash.com/2018-draws.
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