US SQUASH

Sobhy and Serme Set up U.S. Open Quarterfinal Rematch

Amanda Sobhy

For a second straight year, Team USA’s Amanda Sobhy and France’s world No. 4 Camille Serme will clash in the FS Investments U.S. Open quarterfinals after all eight top seeds progressed Tuesday, October 8, at Drexel University’s Daskalaskis Athletic Center in Philadelphia.

Serme, the tournament’s two seed, was the first of the two players to progress in four games and thirty-six minutes against Hong Kong’s Annie Au. Serme, who won her first PSA Platinum title in Philadelphia in 2016, already has one title under her belt this season—the PSA Silver Nantes Open in September where she defeated Sobhy in a close final.

“Annie’s always tough to play, she has a type of game where she is lobbing and dropping really well,” Serme said. “She did it really well in the third and I lost a bit of my focus as well, so I really wanted to get a good start in the fourth. She slowed down the pace and I like to play fast, so it’s a different tactical game, but it’s always good to have different types of games on the tour.”

Sobhy took the court in the final match of the evening against India’s world No. 12 Joshna Chinappa. In her opening round of the tournament, Sobhy needed four games to get past U.S. teammate Olivia Fiechter in her first match since sustaining an injury in San Francisco the week prior. The Boston-based world No. 8 was more refined and clinical in her second match up against Chinappa, taking the match 12-10, 11-6, 11-7 in thirty-two minutes.

“The whole point of pulling out early in San Francisco was so I could compete at this tournament,” Sobhy said. “I might not be where I want to be injury or health-wise, but I’m pretty pleased with my performance. I know how deadly Joshna can be, but my second-round match gave me some confidence and knowing that I can still play and move even if both legs aren’t fully functional. I’m really happy with today. I knew that if I wasn’t on in my attacks then she was going to counter and that would put me under pressure, so I made sure to get my length to the back and use more height, vary the pace so the game plan worked and I’m pretty happy with that.”

Serme has won her last three matches against the American, including a three-game U.S. Open quarterfinal win last year, and most recently a closely-contested four-game final in Nantes. Sobhy’s last victory against Serme came in the 2018 Women’s World Team Championship. Their quarterfinal will take place Thursday at 7:15pm.

“I think both Camille and I played really well in France and it was probably one of the hottest conditions that we’ve ever played in,” Sobhy said. “Even though I lost that, it’s a battle I will remember and it gives you confidence that you can play at that level.”

On the men’s side, the first match proved to be the day’s most intriguing between New Zealand’s Paul Coll and Egypt’s creative Mazen Hesham. Hesham, who took down the nicknamed “Hammer of Thor” Omar Mosaad in the second round, took an early advantage in the first game 11-6, but Coll quickly leveled 11-2 in the second. The Kiwi crucially won the tie break in the third 12-10, and closed out the match against the shot-making Egyptian 11-8 in the fourth after sixty-four minutes.

Paul Coll

“He makes you feel pretty average on there,” Coll said. “It’s very hard to settle into any kind of rhythm. I was feeling really good coming into this match in my short game, but he puts you on edge with his skill and racquet speed. I’m happy to get through that in four and looking forward to training tomorrow and playing on Thursday. The hardest part about playing him is that you know he can hit winners from anywhere. In the first game I was just really all over the shop, my movement, I just had to try and take the ball as early as I could and not let him have time on the ball because otherwise he is deadly. I’m happy to get my game plan sorted after the first and then survive the third.”

Coll will face world No. 2 and defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy in a tantalizing quarterfinal match up Thursday night. ElShorbagy appeared to be on cruise control against Campbell Grayson with two games and a 10-3 lead in the third game, but the Boston-based Kiwi miraculously fought off all seven match balls to level the third at 10-all. The three-time U.S. Open champion ElShorbagy refused to allow an eighth, however, taking the next two points and the match.

“I’m really happy to be back here in the quarters, the U.S. Open is one of the most prestigious tournaments on the calendar,” ElShorbagy said. “It’s a Platinum event and we all aim for these. It’s our first time playing against each other and we have even only practiced against each other once or twice. He came to Bristol before the British Open in May and he is one of the nicest guys I have ever met in my life. We had a really good match, it was fair and clean and maybe I lost a little bit of focus at the end of the third and he showed how good he is as a squash player as he came back at me and I’m glad I finished it through in the end.”

Last year, Coll lost to ElShorbagy in the U.S. Open semifinals after a seventy-eight-minute battle. The world No. 5 has never beaten ElShorbagy in their four previous PSA encounters. Both players enter the quarterfinals undefeated so far this season.

“Paul has been doing really well and he had a really good end of season, especially his couple of matches with Farag and he obviously kept improving,” ElShorbagy said. “He hasn’t lost a match so far this season and I think we are the only two players to have done that so far and unfortunately one of us will have to lose and hopefully it isn’t me. To win it once is unbelievable, to win it three times is something I will be proud of for the rest of my life, but I don’t want it to stop here I want to put my name on the trophy for the fourth time.”

The first half of the quarterfinals will play out Wednesday with two women’s and one men’s matches. The final match of the session was slated to be Ali Farag against Miguel Angel Rodriguez, but the Colombian was unfortunately forced to withdraw from the tournament due to injury.

For more coverage visit usopensquash.com.

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