3:56 pm
21 Feb 2019

Sobhy Sets Sights On ToC Title

21 Jan 2019

US No.1 Amanda Sobhy got her title challenge at the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions underway with a 3/0 victory over Canada's Danielle Letourneau in round two of the PSA World Tour Platinum event at New York's iconic Grand Central Terminal.

Harvard-graduate Sobhy, 25, reached the final of this tournament back in 2016 and took her first step towards 2019 climax courtesy of an 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 victory over the world No.39.

"I love it [the home crowd] so much," said Sobhy afterwards.

"I don't really get that many home tournaments, but when I do... I appreciate it. It is nice to get going. There are always a lot of emotions playing a home tournament and now that I am back, I might put a bit of pressure on myself.

"At the end of the day, I am just here to enjoy it because last year, I was on the long road back, so I just kind of told myself to enjoy it and whatever happens, happens, and I am going to give it my best."

Sobhy will go up against world No.3 Nour El Tayeb next after the Egyptian got the better of Scotland's Lisa Aitken in straight games.

Sobhy leads their Tour head-to-head record with four wins to El Tayeb's three, and it was the American who won their last match during October's US Open. The pair faced each other several times over their flourishing junior careers - first meeting in the British Junior U15 Open quarter-finals in January 2008, when El Tayeb prevailed in straight games.

"I was trying to be focused and prepared from the beginning because I know how dangerous Lisa is," said El Tayeb, the 2018 runner-up.

"All credit to her how she came back with the injuries she has had, but I was very focused from the beginning, and thankfully, I finished it off in three."

Sobhy's compatriot, Olivia Blatchford Clyne, also booked her third round spot after taking more than an hour to overcome Nele Gilis of Belgium over four games.

"Nele is a good friend of mine," Blatchford Clyne said. "I know her game and at the same time, because I know it, I think I'm more nervous playing her than I am someone else who I haven't played as much. Towards the end of those games I knew I really had to tighten the screws and make sure that I wasn't hitting as many tins and I think I did that really well."

The New York-born world No.19 will play defending champion Nour El Sherbini for a place in the last eight after the Egyptian world No.2 dispatched compatriot Hania El Hammamy.

Two-time runner-up Laura Massaro was also in action as she beat Egypt's Yathreb Adel, avenging her defeat to the Egyptian in November's Hong Kong Open. She will line up against world No.16 Salma Hany in round three, while Wales' Tesni Evans and England's Alison Waters will go head-to-head in an all-British battle.

World No.2 Ali Farag - El Tayeb's husband - booked his place in the last eight of the men's tournament as he edged a highly-entertaining fixture against England's Daryl Selby.

The 26-year-old, who like Sobhy studied at Harvard, took the win by a 15-13, 12-10, 13-11 scoreline, but was up against it at times against an impressive Selby, who was unable to capitalise on any of his seven game balls throughout the 57-minute encounter.

"Right now, I could easily be sat down losing 3-0," Farag admitted afterwards.

"All games could have gone either way, and actually they were closer to going his way. He was leading in every game, he had game ball or more than one in every game. I am just very happy that I stayed calm, I never panicked. All credit to Daryl, he never made it easy at any point. I am very relieved to be through."

New Zealand's world No.7 Paul Coll awaits Farag in the quarter-finals next after his match with world No.12 Saurav Ghosal was cut short due to a calf injury to the Indian player.

Egyptian duo Tarek Momen and Omar Mosaad also claimed wins on day five, beating France's Gregoire Marche and Scotland's Greg Lobban, respectively, to reach the quarter-finals.

Momen said: "I always knew that Greg would show up the way he did today, he has always played really well against me and I expected it to be a very tough match, so at the beginning I was trying to employ a game plan, but it wasn't working.

"I felt a little bit flat and then I kind of tried to fire myself up a bit. From that point, like halfway through the first game, I was playing really well and I was just trying to force it, to force him to make an extra lunge or two every point."