Friday, April 19, 2024

Egyptian superstars Ali Farag and Tarek Momen to meet in U.S. Open quarter-finals

By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)

World champion and top seed Ali Farag meets long-time friend and rival Tarek Momen in the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open. Both Egyptian superstars produced outstanding squash to beat Miguel Rodriguez and Saurav Ghosal in straight games on day three at the Arlen Specter Squash Centre in Philadelphia.

Rodriguez defeated Farag in the recent QTerminals Qatar Classic but the Colombian couldn’t repeat that performance level this time against a highly-focused Farag.

Farag moved the ball around the court expertly to take a convincing 2-0 lead and despite pressure from Rodriguez in the third game, Farag closed out the tiebreak 13-11 and took the match 3-0.

“I thought it was a very high quality match,” said Farag. “We both played very disciplined squash but it was attacking squash. When Miguel is on court it’s always going to be entertaining. It was played in a good spirit and this match had it all.

“Maybe it needed to be a five gamer, but I think it was played in a spectacular way. You can’t help but enjoy what he is doing on court. We’re squash fans before we’re players and what he does at his age, with his retrieval abilities, it’s a very tough balance to strike, and he plays in a very fair manner as well.”

Farag will line up against former world champion Momen in the next round and said: “Both of us are expecting everything from each other. We’ve played 100 times together in practice and about 15 times on the tour.

“Every time we come back with a different game plan, so I’m really looking forward to that one.”

Ali Farag celebrates his victory

No.6 seed Momen booked his place in the last eight in similar fashion to Farag as he cruised to a commanding two-game lead against India’s Saurav Ghosal, who seemed to be less than 100 per cent at the start.

To Ghosal’s credit, he fought back to trouble Momen in the third game, with some clever shots into the front of the court combining with a number of points coming from Momen errors.

There was a short stoppage towards the end of the match, with Momen, who had relinquished two match balls, crumpling to the floor after a collision as he chased down a shot to the back of the court.

Once play resumed Momen was able to claim another match ball, which Ghosal saved once again. However, Momen finally closed out the match 14-12 at the fourth attempt to earn his spot in the last eight for the fourth time in succession.

Momen said: “I thought I had my game plan spot on. In the first couple of games I felt that every shot I hit went where I intended it to go. I also felt that Saurav was a little bit flat at the beginning. He started to get better the more we got into the match.

“I thought I got away with the first two games pretty easily, and when I went 4-0 up in the third something switched off. I don’t know if I lost concentration or he stepped it up a few levels, but all of a sudden I found myself fighting back from 7-4 down.

“I thought to myself that I couldn’t be in that position and have the match flipped over, so I decided to give it a real push and thankfully I managed to close it out in three.

“I’m very happy to get through in three and yesterday as well. I think I have had a very tough draw at this tournament, having to play Victor Crouin, who is in top form, in the first match and then Saurav, who has always been a really tough opponent. I knew my draw was not easy and going through the matches and winning has boosted my confidence.

“I’m going to have a day off tomorrow, which is a plus, and I’m going to try and recover well so I can give it everything I have in the quarter-finals. Why not repeat last year’s run? I was one point away from winning the title, so hopefully this time I can do it.”

Tarek Momen won a third game tiebreak to beat Saurav Ghosal

World No.12 Youssef Soliman produced a sublime performance to defeat No.8 seed and compatriot Mazen Hesham to move into his second Platinum event quarter final.

Hesham came out in his usual attacking style in the opening game and looked to test the movement of Soliman early in the match. Soliman was up to the task however and after trailing 10-8, executed four solid rallies to take the next four points and steal the first game 12-10.

Soliman carried this momentum through to the following game, hitting tight, accurate lines to the back corners to restrict Hesham’s attacking opportunities. This back court pressure was forcing errors from the No.8 seed, much to Soliman’s delight.

After Soliman secured a 2-0 lead, the score reached 6-6 in the third game. At this crucial point in the match, it was the younger Egyptian, Soliman, who rose to the occasion and displayed intelligent squash to further frustrate the fading Hesham. Several errors followed from the World No.9’s racket which gave Soliman the win and a place in the last eight.

“I’m very pleased,” said Soliman. “I just had not the best performance in San Francisco (where he lost to Aly Abou Eleinen), but all credit to Aly. He really made it hard for me to bounce back in this tournament.

“I played well against (Raphael) Kandra and again with Mazen and to beat Mazen in three is not easy. I had to push hard, especially in the beginning, but I think I got my tactics right and I’m happy with my performance more than the win.”

Soliman’s quarter final match will be another all-Egyptian encounter as he will take on World No.8 Marwan ElShorbagy. The younger ElShorbagy brother received a bye in round three with France’s Lucas Serme unable to compete in the match due to his injury sustained in his round two match with Mostafa Asal.

Soliman added: “I have a rest day tomorrow, but I think to have matches like that in the bank is good. So I’m up against Marwan and he’s another top 10 player. He’s a good friend of mine, but I’m hoping it will be a good match and I’ll do my best to be ready for that.”

Nour El Tayeb beats England’s Sarah-Jane Perry

In the women’s draw, World No.6 Nour El Tayeb closed out day three with a seeding upset over England’s Sarah-Jane Perry on Glass Court East.

There is only one ranking place between the pair, but there was a chasm between them on court last night, with El Tayeb looking full of confidence as she completely nullified Perry’s attacking talents.

El Tayeb took just 24 minutes to record an 11-3, 11-3, 11-8 victory to move into the U.S. Open quarter finals.

“I think today was one of my best performances since my comeback,” said El Tayeb.

“I think SJ didn’t play very well, so it was a mixture of things. It’s a big confidence boost to play well against someone like SJ. I don’t like to play against each other because our games are a little bit similar. I don’t like her style of play, it’s not my favourite to play against.

“Maybe she doesn’t like my style of play either, but so far it’s been working and I haven’t lost to her yet.”

Amanda Sobhy

El Tayeb’s quarter final opponent will be home favourite Amanda Sobhy, who confidently overcame South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller to progress to the last eight.

Sobhy found her length immediately to quickly dominate the middle and keep Fuller behind her. She used this position to continually volley the ball to take time away from her opponent and despite a better third game from Fuller, Sobhy won 3-0 to progress in 26 minutes.

Sobhy had this to say about her upcoming match with El Tayeb: “We’re 1-1 this so far this season (her head-to-head with El Tayeb), the rivalry just comes right back. I think we have great matches and, you know, she loves to smash a racket on her leg against me. So maybe we’ll go for racket number 10 on Wednesday.”

World No.1 Nouran Gohar advanced to the quarter finals in just 23 minutes as she was in top form to beat compatriot Yathreb Adel in straight games. Gohar dominated the opening two games, winning both games 11-4, before Adel was forced to withdraw due to injury.

Gohar will face fellow Egyptian and No.7 seed Rowan Elaraby in the last eight after the younger Egyptian defeated Belgium’s Nele Gilis in a 55-minute four-game battle.

Gohar said: “It’s always good to finish the match quickly, it makes you feel like you’re sharp. It’s obviously not the best way to end it and I hope that Yathreb has a speedy recovery and it’s not too serious.”

Regarding her move to the USA to work with coach Rodney Martin, she added: “It’s so good (to have Martin with her). Now I’ve been living in the States I feel more home here. There is less flying and I only live two hours away. Having Rod is also a huge bonus, he’s a great coach.

“It’s the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open against a top 10 player next, so it will be a tough match, but I’m really up for it and I’m looking forward to it.”

Round three of the U.S. Open continues today (October 11) with No.5 seed Mohamed ElShorbagy (England) meeting Moustafa El Sirty (Egypt) and No.7 seed Joel Makin (Wales) up against Fares Dessouky (Egypt). All of the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV from 17:00 local time (GMT-4).

Squash Mad interview with Rodney Martin: Fierce rivalry among the top women is good for the sport

PSA Platinum 2022 U.S. Open, Arlen Specter Center, Philadelphia, USA.

Men’s Third Round (Top Half):
[1] Ali Farag (EGY) v Miguel Rodriguez (COL) 3-0: 11-5, 11-9, 13-11 (48m)
[6] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 14-12 (52m)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt [8] Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-0: 12-10, 11-8, 11-6 (63m)
Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Lucas Serme (FRA) W/O

Women’s Third Round (Top Half): 
[1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Yathreb Adel (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-4, 5-0 retired (23m)
[7] Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-1: 11-7, 11-4, 7-11, 11-8 (55m)
Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-3, 11-8 (24m)
[4] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Alexandra Fuller (RSA) 3-0: 11-2, 11-5, 11-8 (26m)

Men’s Third Round (Bottom Half, October 11):
[4] Diego Elias (PER) v Baptiste Masotti (FRA)
Fares Dessouky (EGY) v [7] Joel Makin (WAL)
[5] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) v Moustafa El Sirty (EGY)
Ramit Tandon (IND) v [2] Paul Coll (NZL)

Women’s Third Round (Bottom Half, October 11):
[3] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v Sabrina Sobhy (USA)
Tinne Gilis (BEL) v [5] Joelle King (NZL)
[8] Salma Hany (EGY) v Olivia Clyne (USA)
Tesni Evans (WAL) v [2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY)

Men’s Quarter Finals (Top Half, October 12):
[1] Ali Farag (EGY) v [6] Tarek Momen (EGY)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) v Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)

Women’s Quarter Finals (Top Half, October 12):
[1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) v [7] Rowan Elaraby (EGY)
Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v [4] Amanda Sobhy (USA)

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour 


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