Amanda Sobhy powers to victory in just nine minutes
By MATT COLES – Squash Mad Correspondent
Egypt’s World No.1 Ali Farag is through to the quarter-finals of the Oracle NetSuite Open, after getting the better of compatriot Omar Mosaad in straight games on the glass court at the PSA World Tour Gold level event.
The reigning two-time World Champion was in great form as the temperature started to drop at Embarcadero Plaza in San Francisco, but he showed his class throughout the contest to take victory in 23 minutes.
Farag took the first 11-4, and was in complete control throughout the opening exchanges. The ‘Hammer of Thor’ started to mount a comeback in the second game, but the World No.1 was able to withstand the pressure, and he clinched the match with a lucky winner which went through Mosaad’s legs en route to the front wall.
Farag said: “It is not only affection, but I have idolised him [Mosaad] since a young age. We grew up playing for the same club and he was World No.3 when I first started on Tour. He was giving me lots of advice and he still is! We share the same fitness trainer so we train with each other a lot and I have nothing but maximum respect for him and a lot of affection as well.
“My goal is obviously to try and win it but there a lot of great names in the draw. Every top player is playing it and it is no coincidence because John Nimick knows how to put on a great event.
“All of us want to come back to this beautiful city of San Francisco, with this great set-up, this amazing crowd and this court. None of this would happen without John and his amazing team. They take very care of us and obviously, the sponsor keeps coming back again! Evan [Goldberg, EVP of Oracle NetSuite], we can’t thank you enough!”
When asked about family life with his wife Nour El Tayeb, Farag continued: “[Having a baby] is the best thing to happen to both of us in our lives so far. It is such a blessing and Nour is such a selfless mum.
“She is doing the job while I am here, but she has been hitting the gym already and she is aiming to come back to play in front of you guys. I can’t wait for that because I miss her being here!”
The 29-year-old Farag will now face Joel Makin in the quarter-finals after the Welshman got the better of Indian No.1 Saurav Ghosal earlier on in Friday’s action.
It was a tight opening game, with the Indian holding a 9-6 advantage, but Makin fought back, and he was able to roll off five straight points to end the game, winning it 11-9.
He took that momentum into the second game, and looked in control throughout, winning it 11-6 to seal his spot in the last eight, where he will face either Omar Mosaad or Ali Farag.
“It’s a difficult draw, he’s got a great touch around the front and has those skills that can really disrupt your movement, especially on a cold court,” Makin explained.
“I have that down as a good win, he’s a very tricky player and has some nice skills, so I was happy with that.
“I just tried to increase the intensity and just make myself harder to beat. Make myself big around the middle and take the shot on when it was there. I did it better today and in the big points it was good.
“We haven’t been able to come across to America in a while. We had Chicago in the summer and then before that we had nothing, so everyone is happy to be back. We had the whole season in Egypt and they saved the tour for a while, but it’s exciting to be back. We want to play in venues like this.”
Elsewhere, 2019-2020 World Champion Tarek Momen got the better of USA’s Spencer Lovejoy in a quick-fire contest, while Mostafa Asal beat compatriot Mazen Hesham to make the last eight.
In the women’s draw, US No.1 Amanda Sobhy needed just nine minutes to book her place in the quarter-finals of the Oracle NetSuite Open as she blew Nadine Shahin away 11-3, 11-4.
The American had the home crowd behind her, and she rode that wave, dropping seven points in a rapid-fire match, one of the quickest ever on the PSA World Tour.
She will now face Welsh No.1 Tesni Evans in the last eight on Saturday evening.
“It has been a process, looking back. My injury, the whole road and journey that I have been on. To see that I was World No.5 was really a testament to the hard work. I have enjoyed it for that period of time, and now I need to keep going, solidify into the top five and hopefully keep going up,” Sobhy said.
“It’s been a tough time for everybody. I moved to Philly in August 2020, in the middle of the pandemic and everything was closed, the clubs were closed, the schools were closed, so I had nowhere to train.
“The Racquet Club of Philly took me in and they became my home. From there, and because that was the only club in the city that was open. A lot of the college students, the Drexel [University] team some of the [University of] Penn guys were there, so was my sister. It was just a blast and I think that being able to fully enjoy training and my squash there, that’s what kept me going. In this situation, if you’re not loving what you’re doing, it will be really difficult!”
Welsh No.1 Evans is through to the last eight after beating USA’s Olivia Fiechter 11-6, 11-7.
Evans, who has slipped down to World No.13 due to having time off with injuries, is looking to get back to her best, and she showed her good form by defeating the American, who was playing on the glass court in San Francisco for the first time, in just 20 minutes.
Evans said: “It was tough [having an injury last year] but you learn as you get older that everyone is going through different things.
“It’s been a really rough period of time for me, on and off the court, so I’m just really happy to be back here, back playing and enjoying myself – that’s what it’s about. I want to win, but I want to enjoy myself and make the most of every opportunity you get because life is too short.
“We haven’t played much on the tour. I think we’ve only played once and she beat me. I remember that day a lot, it’s haunted me. She had only just started on the tour and blitzed me off the court.
“I was up for today. She is a great player, you can see each tournament – her results and ranking don’t lie and it won’t be long before she is up even higher than she already is. I had to come out and play my best.”
India’s No 7 seed Joshna Chinappa beat Emily Whitlock of Wales 11-8, 11-5 but England’s Sarah-Jane Perry beat Rowan Elaraby from Egypt, overcoming a tricky opponent 11-5, 11-9.
The quarter-finals of the Oracle NetSuite Open take place today (Saturday) with play starting a at 1pm local time (GMT-7), with glass court action from Embarcadero Plaza in San Francisco live on SquashTV.
Oracle NetSuite Open 2021, San Francisco, USA.
Men’s First Round (Bottom Half):
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [WC] Spencer Lovejoy (USA) 2-0: 12-10, 11-9 (19m)
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Mazen Hesham (EGY) 2-0: 11-3, 11-3 (29m)
 Joel Makin (WAL) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 2-0: 11-9, 11-6 (34m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 2-0: 11-4, 11-7 (23m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v  Mostafa Asal (EGY)
 Joel Makin (WAL) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
Women’s First Round (Bottom Half):
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 2-0: 11-5, 11-9 (22m)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt Emily Whitlock (WAL) 2-0: 11-8, 11-5 (19m)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Olivia Fiechter (USA) 2-0: 11-6, 11-7 (20m)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Nadine Shahin (EGY) 2-0: 11-3, 11-4 (9m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v  Salma Hany (EGY)
 Joelle King (NZL) v  Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v  Joshna Chinappa (IND)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
Pictures courtesy of PSA