Home Star Sobhy Leads Top Seeds Into San Francisco Semis
3 Oct 2022
USA No.1 Amanda Sobhy was one of eight top seeds who progressed through to the Oracle NetSuite Open semi-finals as she defeated surprise quarter finalist Chan Sin Yuk in a difficult two-game encounter on day three in San Francisco.
The women's top seed, ranked four in the world, took a comfortable opening game 11-5 after finding her length early in the game and pinning Chan deep in the back corners to give her no opportunity to attack. The Hong Kong No.2 was on a 10-match unbeaten streak on the PSA Tour and found that form in the following game to trouble Sobhy in the front corners. Chan's fearless approach in the second game earned her two game balls to equalise but Sobhy's experience came through to take the match and reach the semis to keep her title defence alive.
"I just tried to play my strong, basic game and I knew that she was deadly from the middle and so if I could get my length and put her under a fast pace then hopefully that would do the trick," said Sobhy. "But she hung in really well and she's definitely one to look out for.
"She kind of reminds me of myself when I was younger. I think our styles are quite similar, I was very attacking from the middle and we love to take it short and play attacking squash. She was gutsy and she really made me work for it so I respect the fact that she came out here and played fearlessly."
Sobhy's semi-final opponent will be Canada's Hollie Naughton who produced a strong performance to overcome dangerous Egyptian Hana Ramadan. Naughton, who comes into this season full of confidence, after her Silver medal at the Commonwealth Games gave Ramadan no opportunity to attack in the match and used her superior accuracy to score a 2/0 win.
The other women's semi-final will be played between the second and third seeds Joelle King and Farida Mohamed as they confidently beat USA's Sabrina Sobhy and Scotland's Lisa Aitken respectively. King was the first player to reach the final four and wasted no time in despatching the younger Sobhy sister in straight games. King dominated from the outset and looked sharp in every aspect to win 2/0.
Egypt's Farida Mohamed was just as clinical, as she made light work of Scottish No.1 Lisa Aitken to reach the semi-finals. Mohamed's aggressive style of play has catapulted her up the PSA rankings in recent years and she shows no signs of slowing down. Mohamed constantly asked questions of Aitken in all areas of the court and needed just 19 minutes to secure the victory.
The men's matches were also full of quality with the match of the day coming from No.4 seed Marwan Elshorbagy and former British Open Champion Miguel Rodriguez. The Colombian trailed for the majority of the opening game but managed to string several winners together at the back end of the game to take an important 1/0 lead in the final match of the evening.
Elshorbagy, who is renowned for his intelligent style of play, fought back however and used his court craft and accurate straight line hitting to restrict Rodriguez. The world No.9 started to put some serious work into the legs of the Colombian and even the outrageous acrobatic abilities of Rodriguez weren't enough to deny the No.4 seed a place in the final four.
"It was very tough," explained Elshorbagy. "Miguel is a great player and has had a great start to the season, beating the world No.1 in Doha so I knew how tricky he was going to be. I thought in the first game I played quite fast which didn't work out too well for me so I tried to straighten up which worked better as I felt more in control. I felt my hitting was good but it was mostly in the mind today, I'm glad I didn't lose my focus from the second game and just glad I could get the win.
"We just played last week in Egypt and Diego [Elias] is a great player and one that I really enjoy watching and tomorrow in the best of three will be tough because in this format you always feel in survival mode. But I hope it will be a good one for the crowd."
No.1 seed Diego Elias displayed his trademark casual style in his match with giant killer Aly Abou Eleinen to progress to the semi-finals. The Peruvian didn't have it all his own way however and was pushed hard at times by the Egyptian who had nothing to lose in the encounter after beating two higher ranked players in the previous two rounds. But Elias was simply too good and won 2/0 in 24 minutes.
Earlier in the day, England's Mohamed Elshorbagy recorded an eleventh consecutive victory over India's Saurav Ghosal to move into his fifth NetSuite Open semi-final. 'The Beast' lived up to his name throughout the entire match as his intensity and aggression reached new levels as he pulverised the ball to the back corners to dominate the middle of the court at all costs. Ghosal struggled to impose his accurate, delicate game on the match and lost both games 11-6 in 34 minutes.
Mazen Hesham will be Elshorbagy's opponent in the semi-finals, after he came through a tricky encounter with USA No.1 Shahjahan Khan on the all-glass court at Pier 70 in San Francisco. Hesham's erratic style of play was troubling the American at first with the lack of rhythm working in the Egyptian's favour. After losing the first game, Khan came back fighting and with the help of the home crowd secured the second game to force an exciting decider.
The final game was neck and neck up until 7-7, but some uncharacteristic errors from Khan, partnered with two refereeing decisions not going his way gave Hesham the following four points to earn him a spot in his first NetSuite Open semi-final.