Three-time U.S. Open Champion Mohamed ElShorbagy took out world No. 1 and two seed Paul Coll in a five-game epic at the second quarterfinal night of the 2022 U.S. Open Championships Presented by Truist Thursday, October 13 at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia.
ElShorbagy has been one of the most consistent players in U.S. Open history, reaching twelve consecutive quarterfinals, five final appearances, and winning the title in 2014, 2016, 2018.
The world No. 5 has started the season in blistering form, winning the Qatar Classic and Oracle NetSuite Open, and on Thursday pulled off the biggest result of his season so far over the world No. 1. ElShorbagy and Coll entertained the capacity crowd with a marathon five game battle, filled with intensity, athleticism and skill. In the decisive fifth game, ElShorbagy pulled away from 6-all to win 11-7 after ninety minutes on court.
The match held significant permutations outside of the U.S. Open as it sees Coll drop the world No. 1 mantle to semifinalist Ali Farag.
“I want to give some credit to Paul, he had so much to lose,” ElShorbagy said. “I know how he felt, even when he changed the ball in the fourth, how much he had the advantage. But in the fifth game with the pressure, anything can happen and I’ve been in that situation a million times and I just stayed aggressive, but there is a reason for that because I’ve been in that situation probably more times than him. So I think that’s kind of the difference on that.”
ElShorbagy, who won his three U.S. Open titles as an Egyptian, recently changed his representation to England where he has spent the last two decades of his life.
“There is a reason why I switched to play for England, it’s because I wanted to have a great team behind me” said ElShorbagy after his win. “Jade [the England physio] has been doing an incredible job on me this week. We will do a lot of work tonight on my body to come back fresh for tomorrow. I have so much trust in her I have seen how she works and all the English guys, when I was playing Nick [Matthew] and James [Willstrop] and all these guys. So I can’t wait to come back tomorrow.
ElShorbagy will face world No. 4 Diego Elias next, after the Peruvian put in an impressive three-game performance against Welshman Joel Makin to reach his third straight U.S. Open semifinal.
“When you have played so much squash in your career, I think I read some stat that this is my twelfth quarterfinal in the U.S. Open, so that shows the consistency that I have to push over the years,” ElShorbagy said. “I always give my best every time I go on court, I barely pulled out of any tournament, I’ve always tried to be in the best shape I can. And that has always been I think my greatest strength over the years is that I always showed up.”
While Coll exited the tournament, New Zealand will still be represented after world No. 5 Joelle King ended Sabrina Sobhy’s impressive run on home turf. A twenty-three-minute first game saw the Kiwi crucially save six game balls before taking the advantage 19-17. The American stayed within reach over the second and third games, but King pulled through at the decisive moments to win in three games and fifty-one minutes.
“Yeah, that was 3-0 but it hardly feels like that was a 3-0 match,” King said. “Sabrina is an incredible player. I’ve always known she’s had it in her, what she has produced this week and I’m just extremely proud that I hung on top in that first game and I think that was probably the difference today. When I was her age, and I had had a big win at a tournament, I know all those feelings that you have. So I tried to come out mentally strong today. To be honest, I tried to make it a bit of a mental game and a few tactics but I think when you have a big win in a tournament, there’s of course excitement and you’ve taken out the number two seed etc. And so yeah, I was aware of all her dangers, but I tried to stay mentally tough.”
King will face Egypt’s world No. 3 and two seed Nour El Sherbini in the semis, after the six-time world champion bounced back from a third round injury scare with an efficient three-game win over compatriot Salma Hany.
Friday’s semifinal session will begin at 6pm ET.