The second round of the 2018 FS Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships yielded an intensely competitive slate of matches on Sunday with twenty of the thirty-two matches going longer than three games.
The second round of competition at Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center marked the first appearance of the top seeds after receiving byes on Saturday, and not all seeds survived the day.
The highest-ranked player to fall on Sunday was two-time quarterfinalist and world No. 7 Nouran Gohar, who was edged by fellow Egyptian world No. 30 Yathreb Adel 11-9 in the fifth game after seventy-six minutes. The victory marked the twenty-two-year-old’s first against Gohar since the 2014 British Junior Open.
“I am very happy and I am very thrilled to be through today,” Adel said. “It is never easy playing a compatriot. Nouran and I are very good friends and we train a lot together so, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I just had to focus and keep my momentum going throughout the whole match and I am very pleased to be through.”
The undisputed match of the day took place on Kline & Specter court No. 5 in an all-English fixture between Declan James, world No. 20, and Adrian Waller, world No. 37. Waller appeared to be on the brink of an upset with a 2-0 lead until James forced a fourth game. The next two games extended to 19-17 in the fourth and 16-14 in the fifth as James fought off eight match balls along the way, clinching after an incredible 101 minutes.
“I haven’t had a match that long for a long time,” James said. “The work you do in the gym away from the court is for that exact situation when things aren’t going well and you have to dig. I was struggling half way through the fifth game, but I said to myself it’s going to be ten more minutes of pain and then it’s going to stop. So I just kept fighting and fighting and that’s what happens when you do that to the best of your abilities. You can’t play your best squash everyday, but it’s the days when you aren’t playing well that you somehow manage to find a way to comeback, and I’m so proud that I was able to do that today.”
Team USA will have two representatives in the women’s last sixteen as Olivia Blatchford Clyne and Amanda Sobhy both progressed in four-game encounters on the ASB GlassCourt.
Blatchford Clyne, world No. 16 and the only American to receive a first-round bye, edged out an evenly-matched encounter against world No. 20 Emily Whitlock, 14-12, 12-10, 13-15, 11-8 in fifty-eight minutes.
“Emily is a great player,” Blatchford Clyne said. “Our rankings are pretty much the same so it’s evenly matched. I think it was one of those things where you have to keep going. The way I was trying to play was the right way, but Emily kept coming back and when she adapted, I had to adapt and thankfully I did that and executed it.”
Blatchford Clyne will now face Egypt’s world No. 2 and two seed Raneem El Welily Tuesday at 6:45pm local time. Sobhy, who won a quick opening match on Saturday, faced a more difficult test against world No. 13 Victoria Lust, who claimed the first game of their match 11-9. From 10-all in the second, Sobhy leveled the game score before pulling away to win the third and fourth 11-1, 11-6.
“Lusty and I have played a lot of times,” said Sobhy, the former world No. 6. “We know each other’s game and I know how deadly she can be, but I was looking forward to getting into a solid match. She played really well so I really had to step up and play at that top level and I’m happy to win and move onto the next round.”
Sobhy will now face defending champion and world No. 3 Nour El Tayeb Monday at 5:45pm.
“You get the nerves, it’s been a while since I’ve played here and sometimes you put too much pressure on yourself and forget to enjoy yourself,” Sobhy said. “There’s no pressure on me tomorrow so I’m just going to go out there and give it everything I have got.”
All matches coalesce on the ASB GlassCourt for the remainder of the tournament, featuring round of sixteen matches to be played Monday and Tuesday beginning at 12:00pm each day.
View all results from the weekend on usopensquash.com/2018-draws.
Purchase tickets on usopensquash.com/tickets.