10:16 am
17 Jun 2024

Watanabe Win Sets Up Historic Japanese Platinum Quarter-Final

30 Nov 2022

Satomi Watanabe became the first Japanese player in history to reach the quarter-finals of a PSA World Tour Platinum event after the world No.40 upset Egypt's Rowan Elaraby, ranked 33 places higher, to advance to the last eight of the Everbright Securities International Hong Kong Open.

The 23-year-old from Yokohama was sublime throughout and recorded a landmark 11-9, 11-13, 11-8, 11-9 victory to set up a mouth-watering last eight battle with world No.1 Nouran Gohar.

"I'm really happy but I still can't believe that I've done that," said Watanabe.

"There have been a lot of Japanese players on the PSA Tour. It's really hard to get into the top eight of a Platinum event, even though Misaki [Kobayashi, the highest ranked Japanese player ever] reached No.29. I'm really happy I have achieved this, but I want to go for more, so I wouldn't say I'm too happy about it.

"I've been playing some really good squash, so that gives me a lot of confidence. I hope this goes on. I've never shared a court with her [Gohar] before, but it's going to be a tough match. I'm really looking forward it to it, and I'll just try to enjoy the match."

Gohar moved into the last eight after she overcame England's Jasmine Hutton to record an 11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 11-3 victory in 48 minutes.

The 2016 Hong Kong Open champion is aiming to reach her 12th PSA final of 2022, a feat which would see her equal the women's record currently shared by Australian duo Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Michelle Martin.

She didn't have it all her own way against a tenacious Hutton, who played some scintillating squash in the third game to halve the deficit. A fired-up Gohar took no prisoners in the fourth game though, quickly building up an unassailable lead and hitting her drives to perfection to seal the win.

"Everyone who plays against me brings their 'A' game," said Gohar.

"It's always good to have some long rallies and a bit of a fight to get ready for the next match because it gets harder and harder every single round. I'm very pumped up for the quarter-finals and I can't wait to compete again."

The other women's matches saw 2014 runner-up Nour El Tayeb come back from a game down to vanquish 16-year-old Fayrouz Aboelkheir - and she will now go up against compatriot Hania El Hammamy in the last eight. The No.3 seed defeated Malaysia's Aifa Azman and will now look to end a two-match losing streak against El Tayeb.

There were no upsets in the men's matches today as four-time champion Mohamed ElShorbagy made it 10 wins in a row on the PSA Tour courtesy of an 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 win against world No.71 Ivan Yuen. It's the first time since 2019 that ElShorbagy has achieved a 10-match win streak.

"I think the way I was playing in 2019 is a lot different to how I'm playing now," the Englishman said after his match.

"At every point in my career I've had to adapt because I've played against many different players, so you have to study the game and keep up with the game. I think I'm playing well, but with squash you can play well for so many matches in a row and get it wrong one day and you can be out of a tournament. Every day you have to find a way to win and it's going to be the same for me."

ElShorbagy will go up against No.6 seed Mazen Hesham next, with Hesham overcoming a one-game deficit to beat Spain's Iker Pajares Bernabeu.

Meanwhile, Peruvian No.2 seed Diego Elias was in fine form to dispatch England's Patrick Rooney in a commanding 3/0 win. His last eight foe will be Egypt's Youssef Soliman, who got the better of Frenchman Auguste Dussourd.

"I think I played a good match today," said Elias.

"Patrick is a very good player, very talented, and I knew it was going to be very tough with a lot of pace from the beginning, so I think it worked. We played at the World Championships in May and we went to five games. He played a very good match and I think I didn't play the right tactics in that match, I think I played too slow and he played very well. Today, I didn't want to give him any time on the ball and I tried to keep the pace high."