Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Amanda Sobhy the first US-born player to reach last four of the CIB PSA World Tour Finals

‘Probably the hottest conditions I have ever played in,’ says Sobhy
By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)

World No.4 Amanda Sobhy is the first US-born player to reach the semi-finals of the CIB PSA World Tour Finals after she put in a sublime display to overcome England’s Georgina Kennedy in her final qualifying group match.

In sweltering conditions at at Cairo’s Mall of Arabia, Sobhy took out Kennedy 11-4, 11-4 in 21 minutes to finish second in Group A.

Sobhy hadn’t made it out of the group stages at any of her previous three appearances at the season-ending tournament, but the United States No.1 turned up the heat to win through last night.

She admitted: “They’re possibly the hottest conditions I’ve ever played in. I haven’t done too well here in the past and the fact that I’ve qualified into the semis along with the Egyptians makes it three-and-a-half Egyptians.

“It’s awesome to be up there among the top three, who have been kind of raising the bar and hopefully I can give them hell tomorrow.”

Sobhy will line up against World Champion Nour El Sherbini in the last four after El Sherbini finished top of Group B following her match with World No.3 Hania El Hammamy.

The semi-finals will retain the best-of-three games scoring format used throughout the group stages, before the finals revert to best of five as seen at the majority of PSA World Tour events.

Nouran Gohar moves to the ball against Joelle King

Defending champion Nouran Gohar will take on El Hammamy in the last four, a repeat of last season’s World Tour Finals title decider, after she continued her 100 per cent record, making it three wins from three, winning six games from six and earning the maximum 12 points on offer in the group stage.

The World No.1 got the better of New Zealand’s Joelle King, powering to an 11-6, 11-1 victory over the World No.5 to rubber-stamp her credentials as the title favourite.

Afterwards, Gohar said: “I knew Joelle was going to come and try to play her best because she had a chance, if she won this one, to qualify, so I was up for it and wanted to be fair to everyone. I just tried to play my best and I’m pleased with the performance today.

“[Hania’s] in the top three in the world, so she’s obviously a very good player. It’s always tough between us and last year we played in the final of the World Tour Finals. This year, it’s a bit earlier, but it’s still a tough match.”

England’s Sarah-Jane Perry secured third place in Group B as her PSA season came to an end with a win against Egypt’s Rowan Elaraby. She said: “It’s now time for my summer break – all of two days before I knuckle down for the Commonwealth Games.”

Ali Farag beats Mohamed ElShorbagy in the final group match

With the semi-final qualifiers already confirmed in the men’s event after the previous day’s action, all that remained was to decide who would face who in the last four, with World No.1 Ali Farag overcoming World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy in a quick-fire victory.

It was a repeat of the World Championship final and, despite the scores being close at 11-8 and 12-10, Farag was able to gain the upper hand to top Group A, and he will line up against reigning champion Mostafa Asal for a place in the final.

Farag said: “Obviously, it’s a tricky one because you want to conserve your energy for tomorrow.

“It would mean a lot [to win]. I’ve never got my hands on this trophy. It’s a very prestigious one, lots of great players have won it. I’d love to win it one day and what better a way to do it than at home here, to put the cherry on top of the cake to end the season on a high. I’ve got a maximum of two matches to go and I’m going to give it my all.”

Joel Makin dives for the ball during his win against Tarek Momen

Peru’s Diego Elias overcame Egypt’s Mazen Hesham to take third place in Group A, while the final match of the night saw Welshman Joel Makin dispatch World No.6 Tarek Momen to secure third in Group B.

“I wanted to push hard there,” said Makin. “It’s been a bit disappointing, I lost a couple of tight ones but I still wanted to come and give a good account. I knew Tarek would be difficult, he’s so skilful. Even in that kind of match, he’s coming back at the end and making it hard. It was really open, clean and tough squash, I enjoyed it.”

Today’s semi-finals at the Mall of Arabia begin at 19:00 local time (GMT+2). The action will be shown live on SQUASHTV as well as the channels of PSA’s broadcast partners.

2021-22 CIB PSA World Tour Finals, Mall of Arabia, Cairo, Egypt.

Men’s Group A, Third Round:
[1] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [5] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) 2-0: 11-8, 12-10 (17m)
[3] Diego Elias (PER) bt [8] Mazen Hesham (EGY) 2-0: 11-5, 12-10 (33m)

Men’s Group B, Third Round:
[7] Joel Makin (WAL) bt [6] Tarek Momen (EGY) 2-0: 11-7, 14-12 (50m)

Women’s Group A, Third Round:
[1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [5] Joelle King (NZL) 2-0: 11-6, 11-1 (20m)
[4] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [8] Georgina Kennedy (ENG) 2-0: 11-4, 11-4 (21m)

Women’s Group B, Third Round:
[6] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [7] Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 2-1: 5-11, 11-8, 12-10 (54m)

Today’s matches (June 25)
Men’s Semi-Finals:
[1] Ali Farag (EGY) v [4] Mostafa Asal (EGY)
[2] Paul Coll (NZL) v [5] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Women’s Semi-Finals:
[1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) v [3] Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
[2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v [4] Amanda Sobhy (USA)

Pictures and graphics courtesy of PSA World Tour 


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