By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)
Three-times U.S. Open champion Mohamed ElShorbagy saw off the threat of the dangerous Moustafa El Sirty to reach the quarter-finals for the 12th time in a row – where he will face New Zealand’s world No.1 Paul Coll.
His red-hot form continued into this clash with 20-year-old El Sirty, who has a reputation of being one of the most dangerous up-and-coming Egyptians on the tour.
However, ElShorbagy put in a clinical performance to quell his opponent’s attacking threat. There were some high-quality exchanges in parts but El Sirty was seldom able to knock his opponent out of his rhythm, and ElShorbagy took 34 minutes to close out an 11-8, 11-6, 11-5 victory.
After his win, Bristol-based ElShorbagy said: “He just moved to Birmingham, he’s trained with me a few times and we train under the same fitness trainer, Mark Burns, so we know each other very well even though there is a big age gap between us.
“He’s an up-and-coming player, he’s so talented, he had a couple of great wins to come through, and there is definitely way more to come from him.
“This is a tournament which will always have a special place in my heart. The first time I got to world No.1 was at this event back when it was in November. I remember that day very well, my mother was there with me and it was a very special day to reach world No.1 for the first time in my career.
“Then I had to play my idol in the final, Amr Shabana, so it’s a special event for me. It’s my 12th quarter-final here at the U.S. Open and I’m very proud of that. I’d rather hear that it’s my 12th U.S. Open win, but I think that’s a bit too much to ask for.
“I’ve won three times, but I’d like to go for a fourth. I still have a long way to go, so let’s see, there are a lot of players playing well right now. I’m just happy to be playing better than last season already and I’m looking forward to my next match.”
El Shorbagy has been arguably the most consistent man on tour over the past decade and has lifted the U.S. Open trophy in 2014, 2016 and 2018. The 31-year-old has also shown signs of being back to his magnificent best in recent months, starting the season with wins at the Qatar Classic and Oracle NetSuite Open, the latter triumph coming last week.
Coll, a semi-finalist here in 2018, was superb in the opening game against Tandon, particularly on the backhand side where he got a lot of joy from putting the ball in the front left corner.
The second game was a much more competitive affair. Tandon was able to show some nice flicks to catch Coll out and put points on the board, but Coll was clinical when it mattered to pull away from the back end of the game.
The New Zealander made a flying start in the third, storming ahead to a 3-0 lead, and he didn’t let up as he closed out the win to set up a 16th match with ElShorbagy on the PSA World Tour.
“We have a way we want to play on the court, I’ve got my coach here and we’ve had a lot of hits on the court,” said Coll.
“We feel like we’ve worked out how the court plays and I wanted to go out there how I want to play the rest of the tournament. I started very well in the first game and I was very happy with that, he came at me in the second but I held him off well and finished well in the third.
“It was a great performance and I’m looking forward to a rest day and the quarter-finals.”
Despite ElShorbagy holding a 10-5 lead on their head-to-head record, Coll has won four of their previous five meetings and said: “It’s going to be a battle, it always is with Mohamed, he’s very experienced and it’s going to be tough. Two of the last three have been over 100 minutes.
“Maybe the conditions are a bit colder here, so it might be a bit nicer, but I’m looking forward to it. He’s obviously found some form, he’s won two out of the first three tournaments, so it’s a very tough quarter-final, but I’m looking forward to it and I’m excited.
“In between games it’s great [to have coach Rob Owen in Philadelphia] but on our rest days and before our matches we’re on court constantly working on stuff. I’m feeling the best I’ve ever felt on court having him here in my corner, my physio as well, and I’m having a great week.”
Joel Makin produced a superb performance to beat Fares Dessouky 11-8, 11-5, 11-2 in 40 minutes and the No.7 seed from Wales now meets Peru’s Diego Elias in the quarter-finals.
After a close opening game, Makin took full control which was reflected in the scoreline which culminated him winning the third game for the loss of just two points.
Elias also won in straight games, beating Baptiste Masotti of France 11-8, 11-8, 12-10 in 49 minutes.
The quarter-finals of the U.S. Open are split over two days (October 12). All of today’s action will be shown live on SQUASHTV from 17:30 local time (GMT-4).
Sabrina Sobhy stuns Hania El Hammamy to join sister Amanda in women’s quarter finals: report here
PSA Platinum 2022 U.S. Open, Arlen Specter Center, Philadelphia, USA.
Men’s Third Round (Bottom Half):
 Diego Elias (PER) bt Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-8, 12-10 (49m)
 Joel Makin (WAL) bt Fares Dessouky (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-2 (40m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) bt Moustafa El Sirty (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-5 (34m)
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt Ramit Tandon (IND) 3-0: 11-3, 11-7, 11-5 (35m)
Men’s Quarter-Finals (Top Half, October 12):
 Ali Farag (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) v Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
Men’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half, October 13):
 Diego Elias (PER) v  Joel Makin (WAL)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour