Sobhy Downs Defending Champion El Hammamy To Reach British Open Semis
15 Apr 2023
US No.1 Amanda Sobhy will compete in the British Open semi-finals for the third time in a row after defeating defending champion Hania El Hammamy in a clinical victory in the PSA World Tour Platinum event at The Rep Theatre in Birmingham.
The world No.3 from Egypt had defeated the American last month at the Black Ball Open in a match that went to five - and won this event last year in what was the first of four Platinum crowns for her in 2022. It was a complete turnaround in Birmingham, however, where Sobhy won in straight games in less than 40 minutes.
El Hammamy started the stronger of the two, going 8-4 up in the opening game, but a run of seven straight points saw the lower-seeded left-hander come from behind to take the first. She came through to win it 11-8, and carried that momentum into the second.
Sobhy then had three game balls in the second game to double her lead. She led 10-9, 11-10 and 12-11, with 'the Leopard' saving the first two. The American eventually got the job done to win the game 13-11, and then flew out of the blocks in the third. She was in control throughout and went on to secure the victory.
"It sounds like I've won the tournament, and I shouldn't think that way because this is just the quarter finals. But it was such a tough match and mentally I think I got my tactics spot on today. She's the defending champion and I kind of didn't have anything to lose.
"This incredible venue screams performance and if anyone knows me I'm a performer, regardless of whether it's squash, music or theatre so this is like home! I feel like I'm at home here and I can play my best squash and I guessed it showed tonight with my squash.
"At first she came out all guns blazing and it took a little bit to sink in. The matches before me went on a little bit longer so there was a delay and you're welcome Paul [Coll] and Marwan [ElShorbagy] for trying to catch you guys up! It took some time to get into it and I found my groove.
"The fact that I'm really enjoying myself out there and when I do when I'm happy and my body's healthy, I'm playing my best squash and I'm so grateful to have my team and my coach and physio. It's nice to have the support in addition to this phenomenal crowd."
Sobhy will now play three-time British Open Nour El Sherbini for a place in her maiden final. The 'Warrior Princess' came through a tricky battle in the opening match of the night, coming from behind to defeat England's Georgina Kennedy in a fifth game.
Both of the men's matches on Friday evening went to five, with reigning two-time British Open champion Paul Coll having to go the distance to overcome the challenge of Egypt's world No.6 Marwan ElShorbagy.
Coll, who won this event in both 2021 and 2022, fell behind after the opening game, but fought back well to then lead 2/1, as he hit a better line and length in the second and third games.
ElShorbagy took an injury break after the third, and was clutching his abdomen, meaning he came out in the fourth just looking to hit quick winners. It was a plan that worked for him, helped by some errors from the racket of the Kiwi, with the match going to a decider. In the end, though, Coll won the fifth comfortably, to extend his unbeaten run at the British Open to 13 matches.
"It was a mental battle out there for me tonight. I'm not sure what happened at the end of the third, but I hope he's alright. It definitely got in my head a bit in the fourth and I made some stupid mistakes. I ended up pulling it together in the fifth but it was an up and down one tonight and it was all about the mentality and pulling through. I come back out here tomorrow night and take it to the world No.1
"It would be amazing (to make it three British Open title wins in a row). It's one of the most prestigious titles on tour so to have my name on that trophy three times would be absolutely amazing, especially in this arena to win the first one would be pretty special. I'll recover tonight and will give it my all tomorrow."
Coll will now face good friend and soon-to-be World No.1 Diego Elias. The Peruvian Puma, who will move to the top of the world rankings on Monday, had to come from two games down to overcome Frenchman Victor Crouin.
The world No.8 started brilliantly, and with Elias showing some nerves, he raced out into a quick two-game lead. The Peruvian showed his battling ability though, and eventually ran out a 3/2 winner to advance to the last four of this tournament for the first time in his career.