8:48 am
16 Jul 2024

Historic Breakthrough As Sobhy Becomes First US-Born Player to Reach World Semis

20 Jul 2021

Boston's Amanda Sobhy has become the first US-born player in history to reach the semi-finals of the PSA World Championships following her 3/0 upset victory over world No.5 Hania El Hammamy in Cathedral Hall at the University Club of Chicago.

The last time the semi-finals of squash's most prestigious tournament featured a US player was back in 2007 when Natalie Grainger - the South African who became a US citizen early in 2007 - reached the last four. But Sobhy ensured that 14-year wait came to an end with a marvellous 11-3, 11-8, 11-9 victory against an opponent ranked two spots above her on the PSA Women's World Rankings.

"The crowd kept pushing me," said the 28-year-old, now based in Philadelphia.

"I tried to stay really focused because she is phenomenal in the big points. I knew she would be really good on those big points, so I had to be better. I tried as much as I could to step up, stay confident, stay aggressive in those points, keep pushing the pace and once I won that final shot, all the emotion came out of me, I am very pleased.

"I'll make sure that I recover well, eat, hydrate and sleep, and then prepare for my match against [Nour El] Sherbini. We played at the Black Ball Open and this season we are at 1-1. I love the energy here, I love competing and I just don't want it to end, so I will just keep giving it all I have."

World No.1 El Sherbini - who will be overtaken as the world's leading female player by Nouran Gohar if she gets beaten by Sobhy - is through to a sixth successive World Championship semi-final after she beat England No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry 11-6, 12-10, 11-2 in 30 minutes.

El Sherbini - who, at the age of 25, already has four World Championship titles under her belt - is now one win away from becoming the first woman to reach six successive World Championship finals. The only other player to achieve that was six-time World Champion Jahangir Khan, who reached six straight finals in the men's game between 1981-1986.

"For me, this tournament is very important and once I reach the quarters, I tell myself it is a new tournament and to forget the last few rounds, to start fresh again," El Sherbini said.

"I wanted to get myself ready and play my game, find my shots in this match and I did that really well. On to the semis now and I will try to focus and going the same way I am. Hopefully, the next two matches, if there are two, will be good."

The first two semi-finalists in the men's event are world No.1 Ali Farag and reigning World Champion Tarek Momen, who will go head-to-head in a repeat of the final of the 2018-19 PSA World Championship - squash's first $1 million dollar tournament - over at Chicago's Union Station where Farag won.

Farag came back from a game down to beat Peru's Diego Elias by a 7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-4 scoreline, while Momen did the same against world No.5 Marwan Elshorbagy, winning 4-11, 11-8, 11-5, 13-11.

"We [Farag and Momen] have gotten closer since Nour [Farag's wife, El Tayeb] got pregnant," said Farag.

"We've been talking about similar experiences and he's been giving me advice about how to be a good dad and husband to a mum. You saw how well he played today, he's so quick to the front two corners and he puts the ball away very well. I'll have to contain him in the front two corners, and if I'm able to do that I'll give myself a chance."

World No.3 Momen said: "It was a rollercoaster-type match. I started the first two or three points really well but I was so confident in my short game that I decided to only play to the front, which didn't work against Marwan. He just took a step in front of me and won 11 straight points.

"I had to forget about the score, that was the first thing. I had to remember the game plan and just focus on the point I was playing. I think I did that pretty well. I was a bit nervous and edgy but I just tried to think what the right thing to do was, and I managed to get a few of those right."