By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor) and MATT COLES (PSA) in Singapore
England’s Georgina Kennedy appeared to be still some way from full fitness as she lost in straight games in the second round of the Marigold Singapore Open to American Sabrina Sobhy, whose victory put her through to the quarter-finals alongside her sister Amanda, the top seed.
World No.18 Sabrina gained her first PSA win over world No.9 Kennedy, triumphing 11-8, 11-4, 11-4 in just 24 minutes at the OCBC Arena in Singapore.
The opening game produced some high quality squash with long and intense rallies, and it was the American who came out on top thanks to her solid and consistent length to the back of the court.
With the No.7 seed evidently struggling, Sobhy powered on and continued to move the ball into space to test the movement of Kennedy, who followed her as No.1 and captain of the Harvard women’s team.
The end came quickly for Kennedy as world No.18 Sobhy moved through the gears to win both second and third games 11-4 to upset the seedings.
Sobhy said: “Gina is one of my best friends on tour. She has been so inspiring, we played in college together and I’ve seen her rise up throughout the rankings beating top players and knowing that she has been my team-mate and friend for so many years, she’s a huge inspiration.
“I knew it would be a tough one. Obviously Gina is hurting physically, and I only wish her the best to get back on tour, the tour needs her.
“She’s such a strong presence and without her it feels a little empty, so this was not a great feeling of a win. Obviously, I’m pleased to win but you never want to win when someone is injured so I feel for her.
“I feel good. I didn’t anticipate this. I was due to fly out tomorrow so I’ll have to change this. I’ve been away for over a month now and I’ve been battling this feeling of wanting to go home but also wanting to compete and play my best squash, so I guess I’m sticking around for at least another day.”
After beating the English No.2, Sobhy will now take on the No.1 in Sarah-Jane Perry, after the world No.8 overcame the challenge of fellow Brit Emily Whitlock in a tight four-game battle.
Wales No.2 Whitlock started in great style and took the game to Perry from the very start of the match. Loose balls from Perry were being picked off with fantastic winners from Whitlock and the lower ranked player took the first game 11-8.
Perry started to settle in the second, but the short, sharp rallies remained. Perry managed to hang on well despite more Whitlock pressure and took the game 11-9. As the score reached 5-5 in the third, errors started to come from Whitlock’s racket. Perry took advantage to take the next two games 11-7 and 11-8 to move into the quarter finals.
Perry said: “Just pleased to get through that match. Emily is always a tough opponent. Every opponent at this level Is really tough. Every win is a good day.
“I just tried to get settled but Emily settled quicker than I did and found her marks on the court. I was leaving the ball around the middle a lot more than I wanted and she’s lethal when the ball is there so I had to improve.”
The other two women to make it through on day three were New Zealand’s Joelle King and Belgian No.1 Tinne Gilis. The pair both won in three and will now meet in the quarters.
Meanwhile, it was a day of wins for the seeds in the men’s event. Egypt’s Mostafa Asal and Mazen Hesham join Peru’s Diego Elias and Frenchman Victor Crouin in making the last eight.
No.2 seed Asal showed his class in his opening match in Singapore to beat England’s Patrick Rooney 11-5, 11-3, 11-9 in 37 minutes.
The Englishman started strongly in all three games, but Asal was able to regain control each time. World No.23 Rooney showed glimpses of his abilities, but made a few too many errors.
Meanwhile, Asal’s power game shone through, and his victory moves him through to the last eight, where he will now face Victor Crouin, who overcame fellow Frenchman Gregoire Marche.
Asal said: “It was a tough one! Thanks to the crowd for coming today, it is the early shift.
“I am happy to be here, my first time in Singapore. I want to thank everyone who supported us to make this amazing tournament. It is an amazing crowd, since day one here!
“It was an amazing match today. I think the jet lag is killing us all together. Patrick is an amazing player. Clean, fair player, so I want to thank him for that, this is the way we want to play with free-flowing squash. I’m now looking forward to my next match!”
Crouin beat Marche in four games, finishing strongly to win 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 11-2 after Marche had to leave the court with an injury.
Crouin said: “Not sure it was our best performance today, for both of us. I think I was feeling a bit stressed today. I have grown up watching Gregoire, and then training with him in the South of France, so we know each other very well.
“I have gone up the ranking and reached the national No.1 spot in the rankings, but it is never forever and I need to prove it every time I step on court. I am glad I got my first win against Greg, but not the way I wanted for sure.
“To be honest, the hard part is that I have played on this court. It took me a few minutes, a few rallies, to get into the game. The first game was crucial. Getting that first game 11-9 after being 7-2 down was crucial for the confidence.
“I was trying to get the ball tight to the side walls so he couldn’t use the volley and his attacking shots. Once I had my accuracy to the back, I was trying to use my drops from the middle.”
The MARIGOLD Singapore Squash Open continues tomorrow (Friday, November 18) with the quarter-finals. The action gets under way at the OCBC Arena in Singapore at 12:00 local time (GMT+8) with all eight matches being streamed live on SQUASHTV.
MARIGOLD Singapore Squash Open, OCBC Arena, Singapore.
Men’s Second Round (Bottom Half):
 Diego Elias (PER) bt Moustafa El Sirty (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-9 (39m)
 Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 (33m)
 Victor Crouin (FRA) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-1: 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 11-2 (58m)
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Patrick Rooney (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-9 (37m)
Men’s Quarter Finals (Friday, November 18):
Eain Yow Ng (MAS) v  Joel Makin (WAL)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG)
 Diego Elias (PER) v  Mazen Hesham (EGY)
 Victor Crouin (FRA) v  Mostafa Asal (EGY)
Women’s Second Round (Bottom Half):
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Emily Whitlock (WAL) 3-1: 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 (42m)
Sabrina Sobhy (USA) bt  Georgina Kennedy (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-4, 11-4 (24m)
 Tinne Gilis (BEL) bt Salma Hany (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-8 (35m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt Hollie Naughton (CAN) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-2 (27m)
Women’s Quarter Finals (Friday, November 18):
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v Nele Gilis (BEL)
 Rowan Elaraby (EGY) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v Sabrina Sobhy (USA)
 Tinne Gilis (BEL) v  Joelle King (NZL)
Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour