11:54 am
30 May 2024

Khalil Crushes Top Seed Bryant To Reach World Junior Semis

21 Jul 2023

Egypt's 5/8 seed Salman Khalil produced the second big shock of this year's WSF World Junior Squash Championships in two days when he stunned English top seed Jonah Bryant in straight games to reach the semi-final at Melbourne Sports Centres.

The odds seemed stacked against Khalil ahead of his clash with the Englishman, with the Egyptian's match against Bryant his first on the glass court at this year's tournament.

Khalil, however, adapted instantly, with his patient gameplan and excellent retrieval skills stifling the attack-minded Bryant.

In an entertaining opener, Khalil saved three game balls before converting his own at 14-13.

That win, along with the vocal support of the Egyptian team, appeared to spur Khalil on and the Cairo native took the second game 11-4 and then wrapped up the contest with an 11-8 win in game three, which he celebrated exuberantly, climbing onto the top of the back wall.

Afterwards, he said: "It felt amazing! It was a tough match and I had in my mind that it wouldn't be easy but coming through in three is an honour!

"I really wanted to share the moment with my teammates and coaches, who have supported me a lot. In every game, there's a big point and they helped me break that barrier."

That win for Khalil, coupled with Hollis Robertson's shock victory over No.2 seed and defending champion Rowan Damming yesterday, means that his opponent tomorrow, 15-year-old 3/4 seed and compatriot Mohamed Zakaria, is now the joint highest seed after the Egyptian overcame Colombia's Juan Jose Torres 3/0.

Hamza Khan, the other 3/4 seed, was tested severely today by lightning-fast Malaysian 5/8 seed Joachim Chuah, but was able to dig in and clinch a 3/1 victory in one of the most entertaining matches of the tournament.

Khan will face 9/16 seed Melvil Scianimanico tomorrow after the Frenchmen held off fellow 9/16 seed Hollis Robertson in a tense five-game battle.

A win for Khan would make him the first Pakistan player to reach the final of the WSF World Junior Squash Championships since Aamir Atlas Khan in 2008.

In the women's draw, the seeded players continued to show their quality, with all but one progressing in straight games.

Malak Khafagy, a 3/4 seed, was the sole woman to drop a game, with the Egyptian looking rattled by the impressive accuracy of 15-year-old Anahat Singh as the Indian took the opening game 12-10.

Khafagy eventually managed to settle into a rhythm, with her powerful attacks eventually proving too much for Singh to handle as the 18-year-old took the match 3/1.

Khafagy will face compatriot Amina Orfi tomorrow, with the top seed and defending champion yet to drop a game after a 12-10, 11-4, 11-2 win over fellow Egyptian Zeina Zein.

The other semi-final will be contested by Egyptian No.2 seed Fayrouz Aboelkheir and Malaysian 3/4 seed Aira Azman, with Aboelkheir coming through a physical encounter with American 5/8 seed Caroline Fouts and Azman recording a 21-minute victory over French 9/16 seed Lauren Baltayan.