Friday, February 23, 2024

Mo on the march into San Francisco semi-finals as brother Marwan hits back to beat Miguel


England’s Mohamed ElShorbagy recorded an 11th consecutive victory over India’s Saurav Ghosal to move into his fifth Oracle NetSuite Open semi-final in San Francisco.

Continuing with the best of three games format, ElShorbagy was happy to attack flat out as Ghosal struggled to cope with his opponent’s pace and power.

‘The Beast’ lived up to his name throughout the match as his intensity and aggression reached new levels. He simply pulverised the ball to the back corners to dominate the middle of the court.

Ghosal struggled to impose his accurate, more delicate style on the proceedings and lost both games 11-6 in 34 minutes.

Mazen Hesham will be ElShorbagy’s opponent in the semi-finals after the Egyptian came through a tricky encounter with USA No.1 Shahjahan Khan on the all-glass court at Pier 70.

Hesham’s unpredictable style of play was troubling the American at first with the lack of rhythm working in the Egyptian’s favour. After losing the first game, Khan came back fighting and with the help of the home crowd secured the second game to force an exciting decider.

The final game was close until 7-7, but some uncharacteristic errors from Khan, partnered with two refereeing decisions not going his way, gave Hesham the final four points to earn him a spot in his first NetSuite Open semi-final.

The match of the day came from No.4 seed Marwan ElShorbagy and former British Open champion Miguel Rodriguez. The Colombian trailed for the majority of the opening game but managed to string together several winners at the back end of the game to take an important 1-0 lead in the final match of the evening.

ElShorbagy, who is renowned for his intelligent style of play, fought back and used his court craft and accurate straight line hitting to restrict Rodriguez. The World No.9 started to put some serious work into the legs of the Colombian and even the outrageous acrobatic abilities of Rodriguez were not enough to deny the No.4 seed a place in the final four. ElShorbagy had this to say about his win and upcoming match.

Marwan said: “It was very tough. Miguel is a great player and has had a great start to the season, beating the world No.1 in Doha, so I knew how tricky he was going to be. I thought in the first game I played quite fast which didn’t work out too well for me so I tried to straighten up, which worked better as I felt more in control.

“I felt my hitting was good but it was mostly in the mind today. I’m glad I didn’t lose my focus from the second game and just glad I could get the win.”

Looking ahead to his semi-final clash with top seed Diego Elias, he added: “We just played last week in Egypt. Diego is a great player and one that I really enjoy watching and tomorrow in the best of three will be tough because in this format you always feel in survival mode. But I hope it will be a good one for the crowd.”

Elias displayed his trademark casual style in his match with giantkiller Aly Abou Eleinen to progress to the semi-finals. The Peruvian didn’t have it all his own way and was pushed hard at times by the Egyptian, who had nothing to lose after beating two higher ranked players (Al Tamimi and Soliman) in the previous two rounds. But Elias was simply too good and won 2-0 in 24 minutes.

USA No.1 and World No.4 Amanda Sobhy led the top seeds through to the women’s semi-finals as she defeated surprise quarter-finalist Chan Sin Yuk (Hong Kong) after a tough second game that went to a tiebreak.

The women’s top seed took a comfortable opening game 11-5 after finding her length early in the game and pinning Chan deep in the back corners to give her no opportunity to attack.

The Hong Kong No.2 was on a 10-match unbeaten streak on the PSA Tour and found that form in the following game to trouble Sobhy in the front corners.

Chan’s fearless approach in the second game earned her two game balls to equalise but Sobhy’s experience came through to take the match and reach the semis to keep her title defence alive.

Sobhy had this to say after her win: “I just tried to play my strong, basic game and I knew that she was deadly from the middle and so if I could get my length and put her under a fast pace then hopefully that would do the trick. But she hung in really well and she’s definitely one to look out for.

Top seed Amanda Sobhy wins through in San Francisco

“She kind of reminds me of myself when I was younger. I think our styles are quite similar, I was very attacking from the middle and we love to take it short and play attacking squash. She was gutsy and she really made me work for it so I respect the fact that she came out here and played fearlessly.”

Sobhy’s semi-final opponent will be Canada’s Hollie Naughton, who produced a strong performance to overcome dangerous Egyptian Hana Ramadan. Naughton, who comes into this season full of confidence after her silver medal at the Commonwealth Games, gave Ramadan no opportunity to attack in the match and used her superior accuracy to score a 2-0 win.

The other women’s semi-final match will be played between the No.2 and three seeds Joelle King and Farida Mohamed as they confidently beat USA’s Sabrina Sobhy and Scotland’s Lisa Aitken respectively.

Joelle King beats Sabrina Sobhy to reach the semi-finals

King wasted no time in despatching Sobhy’s younger sister Sabrina in straight games. King dominated from the outset and looked sharp in every area of the court as she won 11-5, 11-8 in just 19 minutes.

Egypt’s Farida Mohamed was just as clinical, winning comfortably against Scottish No.1 Lisa Aitken. Mohamed’s aggressive style of play has catapulted her up the PSA rankings in recent years and she shows no signs of slowing down. Mohamed constantly asked questions of Aitken in all areas of the court and needed just 19 minutes to secure the victory.

Today’s semi-final action from the Oracle NetSuite Open will be played on the all-glass court at Pier 70, San Francisco starting at 17:30 local time (GMT-7) and will be shown live on SQUASHTV and other broadcast partners.

Oracle Netsuite Open 2022, Pier 70, San Francisco, USA.

Men’s Quarter Finals:
[1] Diego Elias (PER) bt Aly Abou Eleinen (EGY) 2-0: 11-8, 11-4 (24m)
[4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [6] Miguel Rodriguez (COL) 2-1: 8-11, 11-9, 11-6 (49m)
[3] Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt [8] Shahjahan Khan (USA) 2-1: 11-9, 8-11, 11-7 (45m)
[2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) bt [5] Saurav Ghosal (IND) 2-0: 11-6, 11-6 (34m)

Women’s Quarter Finals:
[1] Amanda Sobhy (USA) v Chan Sin Yuk (HKG) 2-0: 11-5, 14-12 (19m)
[4] Hollie Naughton (CAN) bt [7] Hana Ramadan (EGY) 2-0: 11-8, 11-8 (20m)
[3] Farida Mohamed (EGY) bt [8] Lisa Aitken (SCO) 2-0: 11-8, 11-4 (19m)
[2] Joelle King (NZL) bt [5] Sabrina Sobhy (USA) 2-0: 11-5, 11-8 (19m)

Men’s Semi-Finals:
[1] Diego Elias (PER) v [4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
[3] Mazen Hesham (EGY) v [2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG)

Women’s Semi-Finals:
[1] Amanda Sobhy (USA) v [4] Hollie Naughton (CAN)
[3] Farida Mohamed (EGY) v [2] Joelle King (NZL)

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour 


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