Sabrina Sobhy makes it three Americans in round two
By SEAN REUTHE – Squash Mad Correspondent
Two amazing marathon matches lit up day one of the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family, with astonishing triumphs for Egypt’s Youssef Soliman and England veteran Selby.
Egypt’s World No.19 Mostafa Asal suffered a surprise defeat against compatriot Youssef Soliman in a 109-minute battle which was halted due to a 35-minute injury break during the first game.
Asal left court on a wheelchair in the opener after going down with an injury to his right leg, but he hobbled back onto court and fought through the pain barrier to lead 2-1. The 18-year-old then went 6-1 up in the decider, only to see Soliman take 10 points in a row to finally halt the World Junior Champion.
That was the longest match of the first round, with the second longest seeing Selby overcome Frenchman Lucas Serme 15-13, 8-11, 5-11, 12-10, 11-8 after 98 minutes of action.
“I think we both move well, he’s exceptional around the court and he picks up everything,” said Selby, 37.
“I’ve got to use my experience at those crucial times. The two games I won in the first and fourth were both tie-breaks, and it’s those crucial points that make the difference.”
Selby’s England team-mates Declan James and Adrian Waller also won through, against Tsz Fung Yip (Hong Kong) and Eain Yow Ng (Malaysia) respectively, but Tom Richards fell to Qatar’s Abdullah Mohd Al Tamimi in a spectacular match full of incredible, attacking play.
World No.16 Mazen Hesham required five games to overcome fellow Egyptian Mohamed ElSherbini, while Scotland’s Greg Lobban overturned five match balls against Hong Kong’s Max Lee to advance.
Lobban will now be looking for another top-class performance against New Zealand’s No.5 seed Paul Coll, who he beat on the way to the final of the recent Edinbugh Open.
World No.63 Shahjahan Khan saw his tournament come to an end after he was on the receiving end of a masterclass of a performance from Hong Kong’s Leo Au.
Khan, who was born in Quetta, Pakistan before switching allegiance to the United States, was backed to the hilt by spectators at the University Club of Chicago and showed some nice touches throughout the 34-minute clash. But Au was always ahead, and it was a consummate performance from the World No.22 as he went about his business with minimum fuss. He will line up against top seed Ali Farag next.
“I’m happy to come back to this event, it’s always nice to play at such an amazing place,” Au said. “I’m happy to get through the first round and I hope I can keep the performance up. I think it will be a tough match [against World No.1 Ali Farag] and I will look forward to it.”
United States No.3 Sabrina Sobhy overcame Egyptian teenager Nada Abbas in the spectacular Cathedral Hall of the University Club of Chicago to join older sister Amanda and compatriot Olivia Blatchford Clyne in round two of the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family – which will feature three Americans for the first time.
The match was played at a ferocious pace, with both players looking to attack whenever the opportunity presented itself. Sobhy didn’t start well as Abbas dominated the opening stages, but grew into the match as it went on. Buoyed by partizan home support, the World No.30 claimed an 4-11, 14-12, 12-10, 8-11, 11-8 victory to set up a second round clash with Egypt’s Yathreb Adel.
“I wasn’t expecting this support at all, but I guess that’s one of the perks of being on the glass, you get fans from all over, which is really rewarding,” said Sobhy, who has based herself in Cairo since the latter stages of 2019.
“It’s a complete 180 from what I’m used to [moving to Cairo]. It’s 100 per cent all squash and I think I needed that as a big motivator. There are no distractions, it’s just squash, and you’ve got to be really focused with it. I clearly needed it to get going in my squash career as I was pretty lenient in the past couple of years with it, I think.”
Sobhy was almost joined by fellow American Olivia Fiechter in the last 32. World No.36 Fiechter put in a tenacious display against Australia’s Donna Lobban, ultimately going down 10-12, 11-8, 11-7, 11-13, 14-12 after a gripping 62-minute battle. Brooklyn-born Haley Mendez was the other female American in action on day one, and she went down to Belgium’s Tinne Gilis in straight games.
On the side courts, England’s Lucy Turmel has reached the second round of a PSA World Tour Platinum tournament for the first time after a superb comeback saw the 20-year-old defeat 2007 World Champion Rachael Grinham.
It was youth versus experience, and experience looked to be winning out as 43-year-old Grinham took the first game after a lengthy tie-break, winning it 15-13, and the momentum stayed in her favour she then went on to take the second game 11-8.
However, World No.46 Turmel fought back to win the last three games, restricting the 43-year-old to just 13 points across them all. That win, her second over Grinham, has seen Turmel set up a clash with compatriot Victoria Lust in the last 32.
“I am very pleased to get through in five today,” Turmel said. “I had a very nervy start going 2-0 down and I felt a bit lost on court, but I managed to turn it around and play good squash at the end.”
Elsewhere, France’s Melissa Alves saved three match balls to beat Egypt’s Zeina Mickawy, while a 77-minute encounter between former World No.5 Low Wee Wern and English youngster Jasmine Hutton went the way of the Malaysian in five games.
Round two begins today (Friday February 28) as the battle continues for the $500,000 prize fund – the most lucrative on the PSA World Tour this season.
Top seeds Raneem El Welily and Ali Farag will get their tournaments under way. Play starts at 12:00 and matches from the glass court in Cathedral Hall will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour.
2020 Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family, Chicago, USA.
Men’s First Round:
Leo Au (HKG) bt [WC] Shahjahan Khan (USA) 3-0: 11-3, 11-3, 11-5 (34m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Ramit Tandon (IND) 3-0: 12-10, 12-10, 11-3 (41m)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt Mostafa Asal (EGY) 3-2: 12-10, 8-11, 6–11, 11-6, 11-6 (109m)
Borja Golan (ESP) bt Tayyab Aslam (PAK) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 16-14 (48m)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 3-1: 8-11, 11-7, 13-11, 11-9 (51m)
Iker Pajares (ESP) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-0: 11-7, 11-9, 11-5 (44m)
Arturo Salazar (MEX) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL) 3-1: 2-11, 11-6, 11-4, 13-11 (49m)
Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Edmon Lopez (ESP) 3-0: 11-4, 11-4, 11-8 (25m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Ivan Yuen (MAS) 3-0: 11-9, 12-10, 11-9 (40m)
Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Eain Yow Ng (MAS) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 13-11 (49m)
Greg Lobban (SCO) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-2: 11-9, 9-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-7 (65m)
Declan James (ENG) bt Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-7 (42m)
Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-1: 16-18, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7 (55m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Vikram Malhotra (IND) 3-2: 6-11, 13-11, 11-13, 11-6, 11-4 (53m)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) 3-2: 12-14, 11-9, 5-11, 12-10, 11-8 (69m)
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-2: 15-13, 8-11, 5-11, 12-10, 11-8 (98m)
Men’s Second Round (Top Half today, February 28):
 Ali Farag (EGY) v Leo Au (HKG)
Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v Joel Makin (WAL)
Fares Dessouky (EGY) v  Diego Elias (PER) [bye]
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Youssef Soliman (EGY)
Borja Golan (ESP) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) v Arturo Salazar (MEX)
Raphael Kandra (GER) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Miguel Rodriguez (COL)
Saurav Ghosal v Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
Adrian Waller (ENG) v Zahed Salem (EGY)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v Greg Lobban (SCO)
Declan James (ENG) v Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v Mazen Hesham (EGY)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Women’s First Round:
Julianne Courtice (ENG) bt Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-0: 11-6, 11-9, 11-4 (27m)
Coline Aumard (FRA) bt [WC] Hana Moataz (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 11-4, 14-16, 11-8 (47m)
Emily Whitlock (ENG) bt Lisa Aitken (SCO) 3-1: 11-6, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6 (42m)
Nadine Shahin (EGY) bt Mayar Hany (EGY) 3-1: 10-12, 12-10, 11-9, 11-9 (45m)
Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) bt Milou van der Heijden (NED) 3-2: 11-9, 11-5, 4-11, 8-11, 11-7 (41m)
Hollie Naughton (CAN) bt Sivasangari Subramanium (MAS) 3-1: 11-8, 11-9, 4-11, 12-10 (42m)
Millie Tomlinson (ENG) bt Tze Lok Ho (HKG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-9, 11-8 (40m)
Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt Jasmine Hutton (ENG) 3-2: 5-11, 11-8, 11-5, 6-11, 14-12 (77m)
Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt Lee Ka Yi (HKG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 (21m)
Lucy Turmel (ENG) bt Rachael Grinham (AUS) 3-2: 13-15, 8-11, 11-1, 11-6, 11-6 (57m)
Sabrina Sobhy (USA) bt Nada Abbas (EGY) 3-2: 4-11, 14-12, 12-10, 8-11, 11-8 (50m)
Melissa Alves (FRA) bt Zeina Mickawy (EGY) 3-2: 7-11, 4-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-8 (51m)
Mariam Metwally (EGY) bt Alexandra Fuller (RSA) 3-2: 6-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-1, 11-3 (35m)
Tinne Gilis (BEL) bt Haley Mendez (USA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-4, 11-6 (26m)
Donna Lobban (AUS) bt Olivia Fiechter (USA) 3-2: 10-12, 11-8, 11-7, 11-13, 14-12 (62m)
Joey Chan (HKG) bt Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-4, 11-7 (21m)
Women’s Second Round (Top Half today, February 28):
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v Julianne Courtice (ENG)
Coline Aumard (FRA) v  Salma Hany (EGY)
 Olivia Blatchford Clyne (USA) v Emily Whitlock (ENG)
Nadine Shahin (EGY) v  Joelle King (NZL)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG)
Hollie Naughton (CAN) v  Annie Au (HKG)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) v Millie Tomlinson (ENG)
Low Wee Wern (MAS) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v Rowan Elaraby (EGY)
Lucy Turmel (ENG) v  Victoria Lust (ENG)
 Yathreb Adel (EGY) v Sabrina Sobhy (USA)
Melissa Alves (FRA) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v [17/32] Mariam Metwally (EGY)
Tinne Gilis (BEL) v  Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) v Donna Lobban (AUS)
Joey Chan (HKG) v  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA