Top seed Nele Gilis meets in-form Sabrina Sobhy in women’s final
By ALAN THATCHER( Squash Mad Editor) and ALESSANDRO DE FRANZONI in Sydney
Scotland’s Greg Lobban achieved his first win over England’s No.2 seed Adrian Waller to reach the final of the 2022 City Tattersalls Club Australian Open, where he meets top seed Miguel Rodriguez from Colombia.
No.3 Lobban won in straight games, 11-6, 21-19, 11-9, with the second an epic battle lasting 34 minutes at the University of Sydney.
Lobban had started well to secure the first game and the second developed into a phenomenal, seesawing scrap where Lobban held nine game balls and Waller four before the Scot clinched it on the 40th point of the game.
Lobban then held on to a narrow lead in the third game and edged home 11-9 to close out the match in 62 minutes.
Lobban’s performance was another solid display and the Scot backed up his triumph over England’s No.5 seed Charlie Lee in the quarter-finals, where he clinched an 11-9 win in the fifth after a match lasting 75 minutes.
His opponent in the final, Rodriguez, showed his expert match management skills as he delivered another convincing performance to beat American Andrew Douglas 11-6, 11-7, 11-9.
Rodriguez looked in control in the opening two games and weathered a late resurgence by the American in the third to reach the final without dropping a game.
The 36-year-old Rodriguez said: “Andrew played much better in the third game, when he changed his style a bit.
“I played his game and instead I should have picked up the pace and played faster, like I had done in the first and second game.
“But I am happy that I have won in three games and qualified for another final in my career. Especially here in Sydney, it’s pretty special for me.”
In the women’s event, No.1 seed Nele Gilis (Belgium) will face the in-form Sabrina Sobhy (USA) in the final.
World No.13 Gilis weathered a storm to beat Japan’s No.6 seed Satomi Watanabe, who had impressed in her quarter-final win against England’s Jasmine Hutton.
After falling two games behind and saving two match balls, Watanabe managed to win the third game 14-12. The fourth was another close game, but Gilis eventually came out on top for a 3-1 win.
Gilis said: “I started well in the first two games, but then she started playing much better in the third and fourth.
“She was getting better and better as the match went on. She was getting more comfortable while I was getting a bit edgy, so in a way I feel lucky and very happy that I closed it off.”
In the other women’s semi-final, No.2 seed Sobhy proved too strong for fellow American Olivia Clyne. Sobhy beat No.3 seed Clyne 11-6, 11-3, 11-7 on a bouncy court that favoured her fast-paced style, heading into the final in top form and without having dropped a game.
Quarter-Final Picture Gallery
Aussies bow out in quarter-finals
Donna Lobban and Rex Hedrick could not make it to the next round of the 2022 City Tattersalls Club Australian Open as the PSA Challenger 30 tournament reached the semi-final stage.
With both no. 1 seeds Miguel Rodriguez (Colombia) and Nele Gilis (Belgium) still in the mix, it was Satomi Watanabe of Japan who provided the upset of the day against England’s No.4 seed Jasmine Hutton.
Watanabe and Hutton staged an epic five-game battle that lasted 64 minutes. Hutton led twice, after the first game and then again at 2-1, but could not find the necessary momentum as Watanabe managed to pull back each time.
The Japanese eventually took the fifth game 11-5 to claim a tough and physical contest and revealed: “Honestly, I wasn’t feeling great until almost the last game. I just tried to stay in the match and I finally started to find my rhythm at the end.”
Watanabe will face Gilis in the semi-final after the Belgian completed an emphatic 3-0 win against Saskia Beinhard (Germany).
“We’ve never been on court together, but I am definitely the underdog in this one,” added Watanabe.
The second women’s semi-final will see an all-American clash after No.2 seed Sabrina Sobhy and No.3 seed Olivia Clyne won their quarter-finals in straight games against Donna Lobban (Australia) and Kaitlyn Watts (New Zealand).
After Lobban’s defeat, No. 8 seed Rex Hedrick was the last Australian left in the tournament. Despite a valiant effort in the first game, which he lost 12-10, Hedrick could not delight the home crowd with a win against England’s world No. 34 Adrian Waller, who took the second 11-8 and wrapped it up 11-9 in the third.
Donna Lobban’s husband Greg Lobban had to come from behind to win his quarter-final against England’s Charlie Lee. Lobban was trailing 2-1 in games before mounting his comeback and taking the match to a fifth.
The two players traded blow for blow in front of a delighted Sydney crowd until the Scot found the decisive shots to make it 11-9 in the longest match of the tournament so far at 75 minutes. Lobban will face tall left-hander Waller in what promises to be another exciting semi-final.
Men’s No. 1 seed Miguel Rodriguez beat Czech Martin Svec 3-0 with another convincing performance.
The next adversary for Rodriguez will be No.6 seed Andrew Douglas (USA). Just like yesterday, the American had to go the distance to overcome Ryunosuke Tsukue (Japan), who was eager to claim another big win after beating Canada’s No.4 seed David Baillargeon in the previous round. Douglas needed three match balls, but he finally clinched the fifth game 11-9 in 68 minutes.
All the action from the finals at Sydney University Sport and Fitness Centre will be streamed live on the PSA Challenger Tour’s YouTube channel, with live scoring also available from the PSA World Tour website.
2022 City Tattersalls Club Australian Open, University of Sydney, Australia ($30k PSA Challenger Tour events for men and women).
 Miguel Rodriguez (COL) v  Greg Lobban (SCO)
 Miguel Rodriguez (COL) bt  Andrew Douglas (USA) 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 (44m)
 Greg Lobban (SCO) bt  Adrian Waller (ENG) 11-6, 21-19, 11-9 (62m)
 Miguel Rodriguez (COL) bt  Martin Svec (CZE) 11-7, 11-3, 11-9 (34m)
 Andrew Douglas (USA) bt [9/16] Ryunosuke Tsukue (JPN) 6-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-4, 11-9 (67m)
 Greg Lobban (SCO) bt  Charlie Lee (ENG) 4-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9 (75m)
 Adrian Waller (ENG) bt  Rex Hedrick (AUS) 12-10, 11-8, 11-9 (52m)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) v  Sabrina Sobhy (USA)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) bt  Satomi Watanabe (JPN) 11-3, 11-8, 12-14, 11-9 (59m)
 Sabrina Sobhy (USA) bt  Olivia Clyne (USA) 11-6, 11-3, 11-7 (32m)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) bt  Saskia Beinhard (GER) 11-4, 11-1, 11-2 (28m)
 Satomi Watanabe (JPN) bt  Jasmine Hutton (ENG) 10-12, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-5 (64m)
 Olivia Clyne (USA) bt [9/16] Kaitlyn Watts (NZL) 11-8, 11-6, 11-3 (28m)
 Sabrina Sobhy (USA) bt  Donna Lobban (AUS) 11-5, 11-3, 11-0 (23m)
Pictures by Gregg Porteous courtesy of Squash Australia