American No.1 overcomes veteran Rachael Grinham to claim major title
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad WSA Correspondent
Young US squash star Amanda Sobhy picked up one of the biggest Tour titles of her brief career to date when she defeated Australia’s former world number one and world champion Rachael Grinham in straight games in today’s final of the HKFC WSA 25 in Hong Kong.
The 20-year-old US No.1 reached the climax of the WSA Silver 25 event at the Hong Kong Football Club in Happy Valley without dropping a game – then crushed 37-year-old Grinham 11-6, 11-2, 11-9 in just 23 minutes to extend her remarkable record in WSA World Tour finals to 12 wins from 13 appearances.
“The first game started steadily with both players trading points,” explained event spokesman Dallas Reid. “At five-all, however, Amanda seemed to start to dominate and ran out 11-6. She then took that momentum and dominated the second with the help of some unforced errors from Rachael. She reinforced this with her ability to pick up some of Rachael’s tightest drops, and re-drop with extreme accuracy and claimed the second 11-2.
“Despite the gulf in the second game, Rachael came out full of fight in the third and in her trade-mark style fought for every point. At 8-9 Amanda appealed for a let when impeded trying to reach a very tight drop shot. When awarded a no-let, she pointed out ‘I’ve got long legs’. Sadly the referee remained unmoved. Notwithstanding, she kept her focus and closed out the match 11-9 to win 3/0.”
Grinham commented that she simply could not hit the ball tight enough and that allowed Amanda to dominate the game with her own powerful and accurate shots.
“Amanda is a strong player, and is just getting stronger,” said the Queenslander.
Women’s HKFC WSA 25, Happy Valley, Hong Kong
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt  Rachael Grinham (AUS) 11-6, 11-2, 11-9 (23m)
 Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY) 11-8, 11-4, 12-10 (31m)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt  Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) 11-4, 12-10, 11-6 (27m)
Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY) bt  Donna Urquhart (AUS) 11-4, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9 (46m)
 Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt  Joey Chan (HKG) 11-3, 11-9, 3-11, 11-9 (36m)
 Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) bt [Q] Delia Arnold (MAS) 2-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-5 (86m)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt  Heba El Torky (EGY) 11-5, 11-1, 11-4 (26m)
Sobhy & Grinham To Contest Hong Kong Final
US number one Amanda Sobhy and veteran Australian Rachael Grinham will contest the final of the HKFC WSA 25 in Hong Kong after surviving today’s semi-finals of the WSA Silver 25 squash event at the Hong Kong Football Club in Happy Valley in straight games.
Grinham, the 37-year-old former world number one and world champion, brought to an end the giant-killing run of Salma Hany Ibrahim, the unseeded 17-year-old Egyptian who stunned England’s top seed Jenny Duncalf in the first round.
Third seed Grinham beat the Cairo teenager (both pictured right) 11-8, 11-4, 12-10 in 31 minutes to progress to her third WSA World Tour final since April – and the 66th of her career!
“It was a tough game,” said the Queenslander. “Salma has played really well this week, taking out two seeds. However, I felt I played well. I moved well and picked up shots which I knew I had to do to force the pace and keep the pressure on her.”
Ibrahim, whose five-game victory over Duncalf marked the biggest scalp of her career, said: “I have had a great week here in Hong Kong and at the HKFC, and look forward to playing here again; the tournament has been great.
“I had two really tough matches, beating Jenny and taking revenge on Donna after losing to her last week at the British. I surprised myself to be in the semis, in my first International 25.
“Rachael is very tough to play; today I felt flat after the physical and mental challenges earlier this week. She put me under very tough conditions in the match.
“I would like to thank Haisham Effat, M. Mossaid, my physical coach Hossam Shadad, and the other national coaches Omar Elborolossy and Ahmed Matgany – and also huge thanks to Anna and Ferry for their continued support, and Mazen for the support in this tournament. Also I thank my Mum: I owe her so much,” concluded the youngster.
Second seed Sobhy reached the 13th Tour final of her career after beating Nicolette Fernandes, the No4 seed from Guyana, 11-4, 12-10, 11-6 in 27 minutes.
“I am happy with how I played,” said the 20-year-old Harvard University student from New York. “Nicolette is a tough player and we have had some great battles in the past. She did really well in the British last week.
“I felt I contained her game by staying calm and sticking to my game plan, which I knew I had to do as she has so much energy and is so fit. I am looking forward to another fun match tomorrow.”
Grinham and Sobhy will be meeting for the fourth time on the WSA Tour – with the US star having the edge 2/1 in their head-to-head record after winning their most recent clash, in the semi-finals of the Granite Club Open in Canada in March.
Grinham will be bidding for her 34th Tour title, while Sobhy will be aiming for her 11th – having only once lost in a WSA Tour final!
Hany Now In HKFC Semis
Unseeded Egyptian teenager Salma Hany Ibrahim continued her giant-killing charge through the HKFC WSA 25field in Hong Kong after taking out a second seed in today’s quarter-finals of the WSA Silver 25 squash event at theHong Kong Football Club in Happy Valley.
Just 24 hours after claiming the biggest scalp of her life when she upset England’s top seed Jenny Duncalf, the 17-year-old from Alexandria battled for four games to dismiss sixth seed Donna Urquhart.Despite a world ranking difference of 12 places, Hany (pictured above) defeated the Australian world No26 11-4, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9 in 46 minutes to set up a semi-final clash with Urquhart’s compatriot Rachael Grinham.
Third seed Grinham, a former world number one and world champion, dropped her first game in the tournament when she beat fifth seed Joey Chan 11-3, 11-9, 3-11, 11-9, thereby ending home interest in the championship.
The other semi will be the encounter predicted by the draw – between second seed Amanda Sobhy and No4 seed Nicolette Fernandes. US number one Sobhy, a student at Harvard University, took just 26 minutes to overcome Egypt’s No7 seed Heba El Torky 11-5, 11-1, 11-4.
Guyana star Fernandes had an altogether different route to her anticipated semi – being made to fight back from two games down by Delia Arnold before beating the Malaysian qualifier 2-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-5 in an 86-minute marathon.
Picture by Steve Cubbins (SquashSite)