By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)
As competition hots up at the top of the women’s world rankings, Egypt’s Nouran Gohar will be aiming for a third consecutive title as the U.S. Open begins this weekend.
The 49th edition of the tournament takes place at the Arlen Specter Center in Philadelphia. It is the third Platinum level tournament of the season, and competition will be intense across both the men’s and women’s draws.
The venue, which hosted the tournament for the first time in 2021, houses 18 courts, including two all-glass courts. Four of those courts will be in use this week for the 2022 edition.
World No.1 Gohar, top seed for the women’s event, won the title in 2019 and 2021 and will be aiming to become only the second player to win the event three times in a row, following Nicol David’s triple success from 2012 to 2014.
As always, fellow Egyptians Nour El Sherbini and Hania El Hammamy will be aiming to take the crown away from Gohar. The trio have developed a fierce rivalry which sometimes pushes squash etiquette to the limits. El Sherbini and El Hammamy are seeded to meet in the semis, before a possible meeting with Gohar in the final next Saturday (October 15).
US No.1 Amanda Sobhy, New Zealand No.1 Joelle King and England’s No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry will also be among those looking to contend this week in Philadelphia.
Egypt’s Ali Farag is the top seed for the men’s event, while World No.1 Paul Coll will be aiming to win a major tournament in the United States for the first time.
World No.3 Mostafa Asal is the defending champion after his incredible run to the title in 2021, where he defeated Coll, Peru’s Diego Elias and compatriot Tarek Momen en route to becoming the youngest ever U.S. Open champion.
After wins at the QTerminals Qatar Classic and the Oracle NetSuite Open, England’s Mohamed ElShorbagy will be another of the major contenders once again, with Elias, Momen and Marwan ElShorbagy, who made the finals in both Nantes and San Francisco, also hungry for success.
Nantes champion Victor Crouin receives a bye in the first round and will be instantly thrown into the toughest level of competition as he faces Momen in the second round. Former Harvard man Crouin, recently elevated to No.10 in the world rankings, enjoyed his win over Marwan on French soil in Nantes. Now he has one shot to back it up in one of the ties of the weekend.
Four wildcards will be in action this week on home soil. Timothy Brownell and Spencer Lovejoy got the nod in the men’s event, while siblings Marina and Lucie Stefanoni will feature in the women’s draw.
The U.S. Open gets under way today with four courts in action at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia, including two all-glass courts on show.
The opening weekend of matches will see the first two rounds contested simultaneously on four courts at the Specter Center including both glass courts and courts 7 and 15 with match play starting at 12pm noon local time on both days.
Twelve Americans are involved in first round action and will hope to harness the home crowd’s support. The opening day schedule includes two all-American matches between Todd Harrity and wild card Lovejoy at 12:45pm on the east glass court, and Sabrina Sobhy against Haley Mendez at 6pm on the east glass court.
Harvard’s Marina Stefanoni will face off with Columbia’s Chan Sin Yuk in a college squash showcase on the west glass court at 7:15pm.
Today’s evening session will also feature Shahjahan Khan, the highest ranked American male at world No. 32, against Switzerland’s Dimitri Steinmann at 6:30pm, and U.S. champion Timy Brownell taking on Spain’s Iker Bernabeu at 6:45pm on the east glass court
Sunday will see the top seeds join the fray after first-round byes. Team USA’s Amanda Sobhy and Olivia Fiechter join the fray tomorrow with Sobhy, who won the Oracle NetSuite Open title in San Francisco, set to open her campaign as the four seed against either Emilia Soini or Penn graduate Melissa Alves Sunday at 6pm on the east glass court.
Fiechter, who made a breakthrough run to the 2021 U.S. Open semi-finals, beating Sobhy on the way, will feature in a marquee match up Sunday against world No. 2 Hania El Hammamy at 7:15pm on the west glass court.
2022 U.S. Open, presented by Truist, Arlen Spectyer National Squash Center, Philadelphia, USA (October 8-15)..
Men’s First Round Draw:
 Ali Farag (EGY) [Bye] Alan Clyne (SCO) v [17/32] Eain Yow Ng (MAS)
[9/16] Miguel Rodriguez (COL) [Bye] [WC] Spencer Lovejoy (USA) v [17/32] Todd Harrity (USA)
[9/16] Saurav Ghosal (IND) [Bye] Borja Golan (ESP) v [17/32] Cesar Salazar (MEX)
[9/16] Victor Crouin (FRA) [Bye]  Tarek Momen (EGY) [Bye]  Mazen Hesham (EGY) [Bye] Nick Wall (ENG) v [17/32] James Willstrop (ENG)
[9/16] Raphael Kandra (GER) [Bye] [9/16] Youssef Soliman (EGY) [Bye] [17/32] Patrick Rooney (ENG) v Faraz Khan (USA)
[9/16] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) [Bye] [17/32] Lucas Serme (FRA) v Zahed Salem (EGY)
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) [Bye]  Diego Elias (PER) [Bye] Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) v [17/32] Shahjahan Khan (USA)
[17/32] Baptiste Masotti (FRA) v Muhammad Asim Khan (PAK)
Yahya Elnawasany (EGY) v [17/32] Greg Lobban (SCO)
[17/32] Leonel Cardenas (MEX) v Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND)
[9/16] Fares Dessouky (EGY) [Bye] [9/16] Gregoire Marche (FRA) [Bye]  Joel Makin (WAL) [Bye]  Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) [Bye] [WC] Timothy Brownell (USA) v [17/32] Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP)
[17/32] Moustafa El Sirty (EGY) v Auguste Dussourd (FRA)
Tayyab Aslam (PAK) v [17/32] George Parker (ENG)
[17/32] Nathan Lake (ENG) v Henry Leung (HKG)
Rui Soares (POR) v [17/32] Ramit Tandon (IND)
[17/32] Sebastien Bonmalais (FRA) v Bernat Jaume (ESP)
 Paul Coll (NZL) [Bye]
Women’s First Round Draw:
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) [Bye] [9/16] Emily Whitlock (WAL) [Bye] [17/32] Lisa Aitken (SCO) v Cristina Gomez (ESP)
Anna Serme (CZE) v [17/32] Yathreb Adel (EGY)
[17/32] Jasmine Hutton (ENG) v Sana Ibrahim (EGY)
[9/16] Nele Gilis (BEL) [Bye] [17/32] Rachel Arnold (MAS) v Grace Gear (ENG)
 Rowan Elaraby (EGY) [Bye]  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) [Bye] [WC] Marina Stefanoni (USA) v [17/32] Chan Sin Yuk (HKG)
[9/16] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) [Bye] Nicole Bunyan (CAN) v [17/32] Hana Ramadan (EGY)
[17/32] Lucy Turmel (ENG) v Marie Stephan (FRA)
Enora Villard (FRA) v [17/32] Alexandra Fuller (RSA)
[17/32] Melissa Alves (FRA) v Emilia Soini (FIN)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) [Bye]  Hania El Hammamy (EGY) [Bye] [9/16] Olivia FIechter (USA) [Bye] [17/32] Sabrina Sobhy (USA) v Haley Mendez (USA)
[9/16] Hollie Naughton (CAN) [Bye] [9/16] Tinne Gilis (BEL) [Bye] Julianne Courtice (ENG) v [17/32] Aifa Azman (MAS)
[17/32] Tomato Ho (HKG) v Jana Shiha (EGY)
 Joelle King (NZL) [Bye]  Salma Hany (EGY) [Bye] Nour Aboulmakarim (EGY) v [17/32] Mariam Metwally (EGY)
[17/32] Olivia Clyne (USA) v Ka Yi Lee (HKG)
[9/16] Farida Mohamed (EGY) [Bye] [9/16] Tesni Evans (WAL) [Bye] [WC] Lucie Stefanoni (USA) v [17/32] Nadine Shahin (EGY)
[17/32] Zeina Mickawy (EGY) v Ineta Mackevica (LAT)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) [Bye]
Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour