US SQUASH

Trio of U.S. Open Past Champions Advance to Quarterfinals

Laura Massaro (l) and Gregory Gaultier

The 2018 FS Investments U.S. Open Championships are down to the last eight in each draw, as three former champions—Ali Farag, Laura Massaro and Gregory Gaultier—all advanced from the third round Tuesday at Drexel University’s Daskalakis Athletic Center.

Seven of the day’s eight matches played out according to seeding with Wales’ world No. 12 Tesni Evans producing the sole upset of the day against New Zealand’s world No. 4 Joelle King. Following the comeback theme of the tournament, King controlled the first game 11-7 and edged a close second 14-12 to earn a 2-0 lead. Evans earned new life by taking the third 11-9, and pushed ahead to claim the match in five 11-7, 11-5.

“I saw Amanda [Sobhy] come from 2-0 down yesterday,” Evans said. “I was getting completely outplayed for the first two games, she had me everywhere and was all over me, so something had to change. I tried to change my game a little bit and luckily it paid off in the end.”

Evans will face England’s Sarah-Jane Perry as both players prepare to make their U.S. Open quarterfinal debuts Thursday. Perry, world No. 8, has defeated Evans in all six of their previous PSA encounters.

“I’m not going to lie if you look at the head-to-head then I’m not looking very good,” Evans said. “I’ve never beaten her before, but it’s another opportunity to have another go and I’m really looking forward to the quarter-finals and I will give it everything in that match.”

Elsewhere in the women’s draw, two-time champion Laura Massaro held off a five-game comeback after holding a 2-0 lead against three-time champion Nicol David. The vintage match-up marked the thirty-third PSA match between the two legends of the women’s game in a rematch of the 2013 final that saw David win in five. It was Massaro who pulled away in the fifth game to make it a 2-1 record in Philadelphia against the eight-time world champion, adding to her 2015 quarterfinal win.

“Before the fifth, Nick Matthew came over to me and said ‘you need to get your body language up, you’ve got to hit the ball the way you know you can hit it and it comes down to whether you want it or not,’” Massaro said. “Sometimes it just needs to be simplified like that and I just went on there and tried to fight. It was tight but I’m just happy to get over the line in the end.”

Massaro will face world No. 2 and two seed Raneem El Welily, who prevailed in a lively three-game match against Team USA’s Olivia Blatchford.

“Olivia played really well today and she really pushed me,” El Welily said. “It was hard to break her game down and it was a challenge today. She is one of the best players on tour at the moment, she has a great game and she’s improved a lot, every movement has improved a lot.”
On the men’s side, defending champion Ali Farag progressed to the quarterfinals in a difficult three games against up and coming Welshman Joel Makin.

“You can see how hungry he is,” Farag said. “He never gives up on any ball and never gives you any cheap points, which is great to see. On court with him it is never easy and being 9-2 up in the third he still caused me problems. I think the second game was crucial, I think if he had have won that then the dynamics of the match would have changed and I got away with a 3-0 win.”

Farag will face three-time champion Gregory Gaultier, who defeated Egypt’s Zahed Salem in four games to set up his second match against Farag in two weeks, following up Farag’s Oracle NetSuite Open victory in San Francisco.

“I feel pretty good after San Francisco, I just want to save my body because I have had a lot of injuries in the past,” Gaultier said. “I was missing a lot of tournaments last year because of injury and I want to make sure I can play every round. I’m looking forward to the next match and I’ll make sure I do some training tomorrow to get a bit sharper for the next round.”

Wednesday’s first half of quarterfinal play commences at 5pm local time.

View all results on usopensquash.com/2018-draws.

Purchase tickets on usopensquash.com/tickets.

 

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