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16 Jun 2024

Subramaniam Sinks Sobhy To Make Hong Kong Semis

23 Nov 2023

World No.22 Sivasangari Subramaniam produced a superb performance to reach her second semi-final of the season, knocking out No.3 seed Sabrina Sobhy in four games at the Hong Kong Football Club Open.

The Malaysian, who recently reached the last four of her home event, the Malaysia Cup, started the quicker of the two players, mixing her play up nicely and seizing control of the 'T' to take the opening two games 11-6 and 11-8.

As the match entered the third, the momentum started to swing in Sobhy's favour, with errors starting to flow from the racket of Subramaniam. After the American reduced the deficit to 2/1 and took an early lead in the fourth, the match looked destined for a decider, however, Subramaniam kept her cool to fight her way back and eventually close the match out after 43 minutes of action.

The No.7 seed will now play England's Sarah-Jane Perry for a spot in the final.

"I feel really good right now," Subramaniam said after the match. "Sabrina is a really good player and I only played her once in college, but she has been improving and playing really well so I'm just really happy.

"I think I focussed well on my game today - I don't think I played well yesterday, I didn't really get a feel for the court - but today I made some changes and I think they worked really well.

"Sabrina changed her tactics a bit in the third and I started to rush things to the front too much, but in the fourth, I told myself that I had to get it back together, because if it went to a fifth it would be really tough for me mentally.

"She was leading the fourth, but I just told myself to play it point by point, to increase the pace a bit and reset and refocus, and I'm pleased with how I did that."

Subramaniam's opponent in the last four, Perry, had to show plenty of grit and determination to edge through her five-game tussle with France's Melissa Alves, coming from behind twice to reach her second semi-final in as many tournaments.

The Englishwoman will be joined in the next round by compatriot Georgina Kennedy, after a dominant display from the No.1 seed against home favourite Tomato Ho. The world No.6 raced out of the blocks to take the opener 11-5 and never looked back from there, showing her trademark athleticism to negate anything her opponent threw at her.

Kennedy subsequently took the second and third games 11-6 to set up a mouth-watering semi-final tie against Egypt's No.4 seed Amina Orfi.

16-year-old Orfi by no means had it her own way in her quarter-final bout against Rachel Arnold, falling a game behind and later having to save two game balls in the third. Arnold, who claimed the scalp of No.8 seed Fayrouz Aboelkheir in the previous round, produced periods of superb squash early on but eventually fell away as the match drew to its conclusion. Orfi walked off court with a 3/1 win after 46 minutes of hard-fought action.

In the men's draw, No.1 seed Mohamed ElSherbini had to fight back from two games down to defeat Hong Kong's Henry Leung in a fiery encounter.

In front of his home crowd, Leung, who had already prevailed in two five-game matches this week, raced out of the blocks, pushing ElSherbini to the back of the court and proving the more aggressive of the two players. A visibly frustrated ElSherbini struggled to find his flow in an opening two games which were punctuated with a number of stoppages and refereeing decisions.

However, from the third, the Egyptian started to fire the ball in short on a more regular basis and reaped the rewards of this tactical change. After reducing the deficit to 2/1, there looked to be only one winner of the match, with ElSherbini eventually prevailing 9-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-5 in 54 minutes.

"I was being very passive [in the first two games] and I'm still a little bit jet lagged at the moment, ElSherbini said after his match. "If he was playing clean I think I would have lost in three games, but he blocked me and annoyed me, so I came back and I won.

"The crowd was with him, but I kind of liked that and I used it to my advantage so it's a good experience. I'm lucky to be alive and to fight another day."

Aly Abou Eleinen continued his impressive run of form in Hong Kong by taking out local player Tsz Kwan Lau, 11-9, 11-8, 11-5 in 36 minutes.

The Egyptian was up against it from the offset, with a partisan crowd and a pumped-up Lau working in tandem to produce some superb moments of play, however, Eleinen kept his composure to take the first game.

After weathering the storm early in the match, the No.2 seed continued to hit some great lines and lengths, forcing Lau into some of ill-timed errors and eventually coming away with the victory in three games.

Elsewhere in the men's draw Malaysia's Eain Yow Ng came from a game behind to defeat Frenchman Gregoire Marche and book his spot in the last four. Despite losing the opener 11-8, the No.3 seed roared back into the match, punishing his opponent whenever his shots fell short. Eain Yow dropped just nine points over the next three games, completing his impressive comeback after 43 minutes of action.

Spanish No.1 Iker Pajares Bernabeu continued his strong start to the season with a well-earned victory over England's Nathan Lake in four games. The No.4 seed, who arrived in Hong Kong on the back of capturing the Open International Niort Venise Verte title, held his composure in the first-game tie-break after earlier having a five-point cushion to play with.

Despite Lake causing some problems for the No.4 seed in the third and reducing the deficit to 2/1, Pajares kept his cool to take the fourth 11-4 and close the match after 53 minutes of action.