US Open Day Five

Men’s Round Two:

[8] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Cameron Pilley (Aus) 10-12, 11-8, 12-10, 10-12, 11-4 (92m)
[1] James Willstrop (Eng) bt Daryl Selby (Eng) 9-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-5 (81m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt Borja Golan (Esp) 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 (54m)
[5] Karim Darwish (Egy) bt Christopher Gordon (Usa) 11-4, 11-3, 11-8 (38m)

[2] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt Adrian Grant (Eng) 11-2, 11-5, 15-13 (68m)
[4] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt  Tarek Momen (Egy) 13-11, 11-7, 11-8 (45m)
[[7] Amr Shabana (Egy) bt Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) 9-11, 11-7, 11-1, 11-5 (64m)
[6] Peter Barker (Eng) bt Tom Richards (Eng)  11-5, 11-7, 11-8 (51m)

Shorbagy survives opening onslaught from Pilley

The first second round match of the 2012 Delaware Investments U.S. Open at Drexel University in Philadelphia was a marathon affair which saw eighth-seeded Egyptian Mohamed El Shorbagy survive a ferocious challenge from Australian Cameron Pilley. In a physically demanding match the first four games were all point for point, three of them going to extra points as they took it in turns to close out tense endings.

Shorbagy, was dominant in the decider though to become the first player to reach the quarter-finals 10-12, 11-8, 12-10, 10-12, 11-4 .

“It’s always tough between me and Cameron, so I’m really happy to have won this time,” said Shorbagy. “After I lost the first I knew I just had to push harder in the second, then after winning a really tough third I lost my concentration in the fourth. After that I told myself that I had to really push for one last game and I’m happy that I did that.”

James needs his ‘A’ Game

The first of three all-English clashes today saw top seed James Willstrop take on Daryl Selby with a 10-0 PSA head to head record in favour. That gives you no clue as to how close the match was, and how close Selby came to producing a major upset. The Essex man took a close 23-minute first game, felt the force of Willstrop’s will in the second, but earned a 9-4 lead in the third.

Willstrop called on his ‘dig in’ game to claw back that deficit and deny Daryl a surprise lead, and proceeded to dominate the fourth to win 9-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-5 in 81 minutes.

“That was probably one of Daryl’s best performance,” said an impressed and relieved world number one. “He put the ball into awkward places and put me under a lot of pressure, I had to match him.,

“I had to bring out my A game to get through that, and I was pleased with how I dug in, I had faith in my physical strength and kept plugging away. Winning that third was crucial, at 2-1 up you have a bit of momentum behind you for the next game.”

“At 1-1 and 9-4 up against the #1 player in the world you can’t afford to switch off for a second,” tweeted Selby.”It cost me the match today. #disappointed.”

Gaultier gets past Golan as Darwish denies Gordon

The next two matches were 3-0 victories for Gregory Gaultier and Karim Darwish, the third and fifth seeds. Gaultier won a scrappy encounter with Borja Golan, while Darwish proved his usual efficient self as he despatched US hope Chris Gordon.

“I started slowly and then began to find my rhythm,” said Frenchman Gaultier. “We were both trying to control the centre of the court, but it’s a small area so we had a few problems but it’s good to get off in three, there’s no easy matches these days.

“I’m happy with how I played, I’m feeling fit and getting used to the court, and looking forward to the rest of the tournament.”

Despite a spirited finish from Gordon, Darwish was always well in control of his match against the home favourite. “You have to focus 100% on every match,” he explained, “it’s important to save energy in the early rounds if you can.

“After four months I’m getting back into feeling comfortable on court, and Greg’s in great form so it should be a good match tomorrow,” added the Egyptian.

“I feel a bit tired after that!” said Gordon, who was nevertheless realistic about the match and pleased with his week. “I commentated on a lot of Karim’s matches last season so I know how efficient he can be at blitzing people in the early rounds.

“It was so tough, his length is just immaculate and I just tried to keep it going as much as I could.

“It’s been a fantastic week, I’m so glad to have had this amazing opportunity to play these guys when I’m fresh rather than after slogging through qualifying.

“The support from U.S. Squash and the crowd has been fantastic, I hope they all enjoyed it as much as I did.”

Different ways to win 3-0 for Matthew and Ashour

Nick Matthew and Ramy Ashour, seeded to meet in the semifinals, both recorded straight-game wins over compatriots, but in two very different matches.

Matthew took advantage of an out of sorts Adrian Grant to take the first two games 11-2, 11-5, but Grant staged what looked to be an unlikely comeback in the third, and was unlucky in the end not to take one of his three game balls as Matthew edged it 15-13.

“He seems to come alive when he’s 2-0 down,” smiled a relieved winner. “I had a lead in the third and let it go, that’s something we’ll have to work on. He probably deserved to take that game, so I’m happy to come away with a 3-0 win there.”

Ashour and Tarek Momen played out what was by the winner’s own admission a “fast and furious” three games, with court sprints, stretching retrieves, flashing winners and more all thrown in to the delight of the audience.

“It’s always like that between us,” admitted Ashour, “it has been ever since we started playing as juniors. We both try to keep it fast, trying not to give each other time to catch breath. He’s a flying machine, you just have to try to control him.

“I’m happy with my performance, the body seems to be tuned and I’m enjoying being here in Philadelphia – so far so good …”

Shabana surges past LJ

Defending champion Amr Shabana survived a shaky opening to his second round match as Dutchman LJ Anjema overpowered the Egyptian former world number one and world champion to take the first game 11-9.

LJ had an lead in the second too, but Shabana’s silky skills and smooth shotmaking started to tell and he levelled 11-7, then proceeded to go 9-0 up in the third, threatening a rare ‘bagel’.

LJ celebrated his first point of the game, but it was short-lived joy as Shabana took the lead and quickly established a commanding lead in the fourth, winning 9-11, 11-7, 11-1, 11-5 in just over an hour.

“I had a game plan and I stuck to it,” the defending champion revealed afterwards. “He’s physically very strong and it was tough in the beginning, but I knew I had to stick to the plan, and I’m happy with how I played in the end.

“I think I still have a chance to win events at this level, so we’ll see how it goes against Nick in the quarters …”

Barker completes English trio

The final match of the day was a third all-English clash, and this one too went to the seedings as Peter Barker kept ahead of regular training partner Tom Richards, who simply couldn’t find the formula to knock the left-handed Barker out of his rhythm.

“We’re very good friends off court, but you just have to put that aside when you get on court,” said the winner. “I was happy with my form tonight, Tom maybe wasn’t at his best but I’ll take that and hope to have a good game with Ramy in the quarters.”

Women’s Round One:

[Q] Joelle King (Nzl) bt [7] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 12-10, 11-6, 11-5 (39m)
[1] Nicol David (Mas) bt [Q] Camille Serme (Fra) 11-6, 11-8, 11-8 (42m)
[3] Jenny Duncalf (Eng) v Rachael Grinham (Aus) 11-5, 11-8, 11-4 (33m)
[Q] Alison Waters (Eng) bt [8] Natalie Grinham (Ned) 10-12, 11-5, 11-8, 5-11, 11-7 (53m)

Kasey Brown (Aus) bt [6] Annie Au (Hkg) 12/10, 11/8, 11/9 (46m)
[5] Madeline Perry (Irl) bt [Q] Donna Urquhart (Aus) 11-5,11-4, 7-11, 11-2 (39m)
[4] Laura Massaro (Eng) v Kristen Lange (Usa) 11-0, 11-3, 11-4 (19m)
[2] Raneem El Weleily (Egy) bt Low Wee Wern (Mas)  11-8, 5-11, 11-8, 11-5 (38m)

King turns the Tables as David and Waters set up rematch

Kiwi qualifier Joelle King turned the seedings on their head in the first match of the 2012 Delaware Investments U.S. Open at Drexel University in Philadelphia as she beat seventh seed Nour El Sherbini in straight games. Ahead in all three games – although she had to save two game balls to pince the first – King denied Sherbini the volleys that she thrives on, keeping the ball generally to the back and taking her opportunities well.

“I’ve always lost to Nour before, when I was the one seeded to win, so it feels pretty to to beat her now when she’s the seeded player,” said a delighted King after her 12-10, 11-6, 11-5 win.

“I don’t feel I played my best squash, but I had a bit of a game plan and I was pleased to be able to stick to it, I played some solid length and stopped her attacking like she can. It’s nice to be on first, off in three, so I can relax and watch the rest of the matches now.”

That was followed by another straight-games win as top seed Nicol David took three close games against French qualifier Camille Serme, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8.

“It’s strange to think Camille had to qualify,” said David, “she’s such a good player and she was hitting some really good backhand volley drops. I knew I would have to be focused and try to play my game, so I’m pleased I managed to win in three, I’m looking forward now to getting onto the glass court for the quarter-finals.

Third seed Jenny Duncalf eased home against Rachael Grinham, jumping out to leads of 4-0, 4-1 and 7-1 in games which she finished off 11-5, 11-8, 11-4 to move through to a meeting with King.

“Rachael is sometimes called a ‘veteran’, and I’ve played her lots of times but she’s still capable of playing brilliantly and surprising anyone,” said Duncalf, “so I’m pleased to be able to get off in three.

“Joelle’s always been a strong player and she played well last week and here this morning, so it should be a tough match tomorrow, I’m glad it’s on the glass court though.”

Alison Waters made it an English double as she came through a second successive five-game match, this time getting the better of Natalie Grinham 10-12, 11-5, 11-8, 5-11, 11-7 (53m).

“I think I was a bit lucky to win that,” admitted Waters, who now plays Nicol David who she beat last week in New York. “It was a bit up and down and at the start of the fifth I jusy told myself to give it one more push, and thankfully it worked. ”

Kasey conquers Annie but new woman Perry stops Donna

A second upset came when Kasey Brown overcame sixth seed Annie Au 12-10, 11-8, 11-9.

“It was kind of a blessing in disguise not being the seeded player for once,” admitted the Australian, who reached the fianl here last year.

“She beat me in Malaysia, but Rod [Martin, coach] and I came up with a new game plan against her, attacking more, and it worked but all three games were close.

This tournament means a lot to me, with Delaware Investments sponsoring me this year, so I’m keen to do well for them, it’s great to see them backing squash in Philly.”

Madeline Perry wasn’t in the mood for an upset though, as she beat qualifier Donna Urquhart 11-5,11-4, 7-11, 11-2. “I went back home after the Weymuller for a few days for my sister’s wedding,” shared Perry, “and I’ve come back feeling like a new woman!”

either was defending champion and new world number two Laura Massaro in the mood to mess about in her match against wildcard entry Kristen Lange. Massaro won 11-0, 11-3, 11-4 in 19 minutes and Lange was impressed:

“Wow, she was just awesome! At first I just didn’t have any idea what to do, but after the butterflies had settled down I told myself that this was just squash, so play it. I managed to settle down and it was much better after that, but she was still just too good for me.

“It was a great experience though, and it should serve me well in the buildup to the world teams over the next four months.”

Completing the quarterfinal lineup, second seed Raneem El Weleily overcame Low Wee Wern 11-8, 5-11, 11-8, 11-5, and was satisfied with her performance – in the end:

“When I was playing well it was good, but I wasn’t doing that often enough. My head just wasn’t in the game in the second, and I had to really push myself to get my good form back.

“She played well in the third, I was a bit lucky to take that, then there were a couple of long rallies at the start of the fourth that got me back into playing well again.”

Check Also

PSA World Rankings – July

After claiming his fourth career title by winning the Sporta International in Guatemala, Marwan Elshorbagy climbs to a career-high No.17 in the July PSA World Rankings ...

Feel free to leave a comment ...