2:09 am
21 Jun 2024

Sabrina Sobhy Survives Edgy Egyptian Open Opener

20 Sep 2022

USA's world No.21 Sabrina Sobhy avoided a huge upset to 15-year-old local wildcard Amina Orfi on the opening day of action in the CIB Egyptian Open in Cairo.

Sobhy took the first game 11-8 but Orfi, who had the backing of a passionate home crowd, stormed back to draw level when she clinched the second game 11-6.

Underdog Orfi, who is 402 places lower in the world rankings, produced an excellent performance in the third as she won 11-2 to edge 2/1 ahead.

The 15-year-old, who was crowned World Junior champion in the summer, had a golden opportunity to seal her place in the second round in the fourth game with a match ball - but was unable to profit. An error from Orfi handed Sobhy the fourth game to tie the scores and force a decider.

But it was Sobhy's experience over the young wildcard that helped her prevail in the decisive fifth game, claiming it 11-6 and moving into the next round.

"I wouldn't say it was one of my best (performances). With any wildcard, the difficulty is not ever having seen them on Tour and knowing their game plan and a clear strategy against the opponent," Sobhy reflected.

"I was a little bit passive and on edge throughout the match and I was taken aback by her aggression. With her being a young Egyptian, she might not have had any experience with professional players or respect you should show your opponent.

"She's a fit, young girl that's very aggressive, attacking and has a fast pace. She's very eager - she's the World Junior champion so she's a phenomenal young athlete so all credit to her at such a young age at 15. It was, of course, difficult to play with the conditions being a warm court, late at night and it was quite difficult to find my own game plan and get stuck into my own game."

In what was one of the matches of the day in the men's draw, USA's Todd Harrity fought back from 8-1 down in the fifth game to beat Portugal's Rui Soares.

Harrity had looked good value for his 2/0 lead before Soares pulled a game back with an 11-4 win in game three. The American then looked well set to end the match in four when he came back from 5-0 down to 10-8 up, only for Soares to rally and put together a four-point run to save the two match balls and force a fifth game.

Soares flew into the fifth game, rapidly opening up an 8-1 lead, only for a brilliant revival from Harrity. The American reeled off point after point as he battled back to 9-8 down. Harrity then saved two match balls at 10-8 and 10-9 before eventually bringing things to an end with a 12-10 win.

"That was very confusing and very up and down. I'm trying to play a certain way, which is coming along slowly. Rui's a strong player and he played really well. Every time I let up a little, he took advantage. Honestly, I don't know what happened in the end! I feel very lucky to come out on top there," Harrity said.

"[At 8-1] I just thought 'Forget about everything. Forget about winning or losing and just try and make this game last as long as possible. Somehow I got stuck in, he tightened up a bit and next thing you know I won!"

Elsewhere, Mazen Gamal shocked his Egyptian compatriot Moustafa El Sirty, and he will meet another fellow countryman, No.1 seed Ali Farag, in the second round.