Friday, December 1, 2023

Sobhy halts Habiba in KL shakedown

American ace meets Nour El Tayeb in semi-finals
By ALEX WAN – Squash Mad Malaysian Correspondent

Amanda Sobhy powers through
Amanda Sobhy powers through

World junior champion Habiba Mohamed today met her match in Amanda Sobhy. The American, a former world junior champion herself, gave the 15-year old a lesson in humility by winning in just 25 minutes.

Right from the start, things did not go right for Mohamed, when she had to be reminded to put on her eyewear by referee Mary Lee.

When she came out to get it, she had trouble opening the box that was holding it. The whole scenario took a full two minutes, which I believe startled her, judging from the three quick points Sobhy was handed in the start, the last of which was a serve right into Mohamed’s body.

Sobhy was just very sharp and accurate today. It didn’t help that Mohamed had not practised on this show court before. Right from the start, there was no doubt who was going to walk out of the court the winner.

This win is an expensive one as Sobhy had said to herself that if she reached the semi-finals of the Malaysian or Hong Kong Opens, she will upgrade her flight back to first class. But given that this will be her maiden WSA World Series semi-final, it’s probably worth it.

Joining her in the last four tomorrow is another former world junior champion, Nour El Tayeb, who continued her giant-killing run as she took out Ireland’s Madeline Perry today.

The first two games were very close affairs, both going the Egyptian’s way. The plucky veteran pulled a game came back, but unfortunately had to retire in the next game from a muscle strain on the left leg.

Sarah-Jane Perry and Raneem El Weleily entertained the crowd with some “effortless” squash this evening. Perry, who towers at 6 feet, practically picked up everything, well, most, of what El Weleily threw at her. Perry put her reach to good use today and it forced Weleily to go just lower with her shots, which at one point in the second set, she tinned seven consecutive times.

Raneem El Weleily later said, “I’m disappointed with myself. There were seven tins in a row. This is really bad.”

KLnicolau14National hero Nicol David’s match was just “another day in the office”. Playing against Annie Au, the left hander from Hong Kong, it took David some time to settle in.

The first game was close, David taking time to find her lengths and sneaked in with an 11-9 score line. The second and third had a few long rallies, but David was always ahead of her Asian counterpart.

There was never a doubt who would win this match, much to the delight of the local fans.

Tomorrow will feature a line-up of former world junior champions, a point which Raneem El Weleily shot down by saying, “forget about the world juniors, Nicol has seven or eight world titles in her hands already!” (It’s seven by the way).

KLmaxIn the men’s, Max Lee upset the books to beat fourth seed Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad. The win did not come easy as it took all five games and 71 minutes to settle the score.

The win makes him the Hongkie semi finalist of the Malaysian Open. Lee (right) will next play Spanish Borja Golan, conqueror of Olli Tuominen.

Having won the first two games, Golan dropped the next, before racing to a 9-0 lead in the fourth, which eventually ended 11-1.

Despite the royal cheer from Tuanku Muhriz ibni Almarhum Tuanku Munawir, the ruler of a Malaysian state, local interest in the men’s was ended today as Nafiizwan Adnan crashed out to top seed Mohamed El Shorbagy.

KLwanmoThe lanky Egyptian was matched point for point in the start, right up to when he pulled out to 7-5, after which he ran through a succession of points to win 11-5.

The second game was a close affair and both players had trouble on the front right corner, where they were slipping.

Shorbagy was clearly the more unhappy one with the incidents, ranting to the referee that the flooring needs changing at one point. Still, the Egyptian scraped through and then in the third, the Malaysian couldn’t sustain anymore.

The surprise of the day was really the match between Tarek Momen and Mahesh Mangaonkar, which had Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin in the audience.

The pair served up the longest match of the day, lasting 71 minutes. The 2012 champion was pushed to the limits by the 63rd-ranked Indian before winning in five games. Throughout the match, it seems that Mangaonkar could pick up everything Momen tried to hit.

Later, Momen told SquashMad, “I didn’t know what to expect. I have also just come back from a long vacation, so I was struggling in my head. He (Mangaonkar) comes to Egypt, so I’ve seen him play before but it’s the first time we’ve played. I think I played well, but he played a super game.”

Pictures by KNG ZHENG GUAN


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