6:24 am
17 Jun 2024

Kennedy Carries Home Hopes Into Manchester Open Semis

25 May 2024

England's Georgina Kennedy, bidding to become the first ever home winner of the Manchester Open title, progressed to the women's semi-finals of the PSA World Tour Silver event after beating Japanese opponent Satomi Watanabe in straight games at the National Squash Centre.

The No.2 seed held a 2/0 lead over Watanabe in their head-to-head record and showed how confident she was from the outset.

After winning the first two games both 11-8, Kennedy stormed through to a 8-4 lead in the fourth, looking certain to win in three games. Watanabe had other ideas and upped her game to win the next five points, earning a narrow lead at 9-8. The home hope regrouped and put together two strong rallies to earn a match ball, which she converted at the first time of asking.

"It's so hard playing Satomi because she is so unorthodox, but in a really disruptive way, so to get through in three against a dangerous opponent like that is a very good day," said Kennedy.

"I'm new to playing here, but I love it, I love being in front of a home crowd. Having Ben [Ford] (Kennedy's coach) here is such an advantage. At Platinum events I have felt at a bit of a disadvantage because I'm the only top ten player who doesn't have someone in their corner at every single tournament. So when Ben can be here, I'm a whole new person. I'm so grateful."

Kennedy's semi-final opponent will be Egypt's Salma Hany after the No.4 seed ended the impressive run of local wildcard Saran Nghiem in the fifth match of the day. The other semi-final will be an all-Egyptian contest between defending champion Nour El Tayeb and world No.9 Rowan Elaraby. The pair both came through in confident fashion on quarter finals day against Sabrina Sobhy and Nour Aboulmakarim, respectively.

Britons Joel Makin and Greg Lobban prevailed in the men's event to join two further Egyptian in the semi-finals.

Scot Lobban was the first player in the men's draw to book his place in the last four as he defeated France's Gregoire Marche in four games. Marche looked to be feeling the effects of yesterday's upset over top seed Marwan Elshorbagy as Lobban played smart, structured rallies to test the Frenchman.

Despite Lobban losing the third game 16-14, the Scotsman regrouped strongly, remaining patient in his attacks and depleting Marche of all energy. Lobban secured the fourth game 11-5 to move into his first ever PSA World Tour Silver event semi.

"I remember coming down to this venue to watch the British Nationals when I was very young, so to be on this stage is a bit surreal, to be honest. It's just nice to be competing with the best guys in the world and it's a real thrill," said Lobban after his win.

"I want to be as close to 100% to be competing with these guys and when I have been 100% this year, I have been pretty close, so it's nice to be in these positions.

"We play most of the year away from home and I'm very close to home at the moment. I've got a bit of a gang here of players I know in Scotland cheering me on in my corner this week. It's nice to have these guys here and to be playing in front of such a big crowd. I feel really honoured to be playing here today, so thank you."

Lobban will now face No.5 seed Fares Dessouky for a spot in the final after the Egyptian came through a feisty clash with compatriot Youssef Soliman in four games.

The other men's semi-final will be played between second-seeded Welshman Joel Makin and Egypt's Youssef Ibrahim. Makin was forced to recover from a game down against Spain's Iker Pajares in his quarter final match. The Spaniard took Makin by surprise in the first game with his attacking tactics, but it didn't take the world No.10 long to reset and put work into the legs of Pajares. Makin surrendered less than 10 points in the following three games to win 3/1.

Ibrahim was the last player to earn a spot in the final four today as he ended home hopes in the men's draw, beating Nathan Lake in straight games.