World No. 8 Amanda Sobhy overcame a formidable challenge from U.S. teammate Olivia Fiechter in Sunday’s second round to become the lone American representative in the last sixteen of the 2019 FS Investments U.S. Open.
Sunday brought the top sixteen men’s and women’s seeds into the fray with thirty-two second-round matches contested on four courts—the ASB GlassCourt and Kline & Specter Court 1 at Drexel University and two courts at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia.
By the end of the day, all top eight men’s and women’s seeds survived their first test of the tournament, including women’s seven seed Amanda Sobhy. Some questions surrounded the elder Sobhy sister entering the event, following a precautionary withdrawal from the Oracle NetSuite Open due to injury last week, but the twenty-six-year-old got the job done against her up-and-coming opponent.
Continuing her positive momentum from Saturday’s upset over Emily Whitlock, Fiechter pushed Sobhy in the first two games, dropping the first game 11-4, but taking the second 11-8. Fiechter earned a 7-4 advantage in the third, but Sobhy regained control, winning seven of the next eight points and taking the third 11-8. Sobhy then clinched the match 11-7 after thirty-four minutes in what was their second career match up on the PSA World Tour—both advantage Sobhy.
“I was struggling with a little niggle in my leg from San Francisco,” Sobhy said. “So I didn’t really know what to expect coming here and whether I was playing or not playing, playing and making it worse. But this tournament means so much to me and I wanted to at least try, so no matter what happened I gave it a shot and tried my best. I’m pleased to win and move to the next round.”
The forty-eight-player women’s draw this year included six American women including wild cards Laila Sedky and Sabrina Sobhy, Haley Mendez, Olivia Blatchford Clyne, Amanda Sobhy and Fiechter.
“Olivia has improved so much, I think in her first year she has jumped up like 110 spots,” Sobhy said. “It’s nice to have another U.S. player on tour as well and it goes to show the high level of U.S. squash and that we’re really challenging the top girls. It’s nice to have a good group of us challenging other countries that have been dominating for so many years. It’s hard playing one of your best mates on tour.”
Prior to the all-American match on the glass court, both Sabrina Sobhy and Olivia Blatchford Clyne fell against top-ten-ranked opposition—world No. 2 Camille Serme and world No. 6 Joelle King, respectively.
Away from Drexel’s two courts, many of the day’s most intriguing results occurred downtown at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia.
Cornell sophomore Sivasangari Subramaniam became the first active U.S. college student since Amanda Sobhy in 2013 to reach the last sixteen of the U.S. Open. The twenty-year-old Malaysian pulled off the biggest upset of her career so far against England’s world No. 13 Alison Waters in four games.
“I feel really happy, this means a lot,” Subramaniam said. “I haven’t played much PSA since I started college so I feel really happy. All this hard work I’ve been putting in over the past few weeks with David Palmer, it all paid off. I do love playing on the glass, but most PSA players are good on there and they’ve played on there a lot more than me. I’m just going to give it my best and let’s see how it goes.”
The world No. 48 will face England’s world No. 7 Sarah-Jane Perry on Monday at 1:45pm. The English women’s contingent sustained another upset at RCOP Sunday afternoon when Egypt’s 2018 World Junior champion Rowan Elaraby recorded just the second top-twenty-ranked upset of her career over world No. 14 Victoria Lust.
On the men’s side, three prominent Egyptians of U.S. Opens past also bowed out of the tournament against lower-ranked opposition in the form of Marwan ElShorbagy, Omar Mosaad and Fares Dessouky.
ElShorbagy, world No. 10 and a U.S. Open quarterfinalist in 2016, sustained his first career loss against compatriot and world No. 15 Zahed Salem in four close games. Mosaad, the 2015 U.S. Open finalist and a three-time semifinalist, suffered his first career PSA loss against fellow Egyptian and world No. 21 Mazen Hesham, who successfully pulled off a five-game comeback from 2-0 down in games. Dessouky, world No. 14 and a three-time U.S. Open quarterfinalist, fell against Germany’s Raphael Kandra for the first time in his career.
Monday sees all matches for the remainder of the tournament centralize on the ASB GlassCourt staged in Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center, with the round of sixteen split across the next two days. Tickets for all rounds are still available on usopensquash.com/tickets. Live stream all matches on the U.S. Open Squash and PSA World Tour Facebook Live feeds.