New Zealand’s Joelle King is into a second PSA World Tour final in as many weeks, as she came through a tough five-game battle with Sabrina Sobhy to make it into the MARIGOLD Singapore Squash Open final at the OCBC Arena.
The Kiwi, who claimed the New Zealand Open title on Sunday in Tauranga, was yet to drop a game this week in Singapore prior to the semi-finals. Neither had her opponent, with the American causing an upset on day for to overcome English No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry.
It was King who broke her opponent’s streak first as she edged past Sobhy 12-10, despite the American saving three game balls in the opening game. Sobhy’s speed around the court and excellent shot selection paid dividends in the second as she was able to shrug off a fightback from King, with the World No.5 saving four game balls.
King took the lead once again after she won the third game 11-8, but Sobhy produced another excellent display in the fourth to force a decider after clinching an 11-5 win. In the end though, the experience of King proved to be too much for the unseeded American as the 34-year-old won 11-5 to progress to Sunday’s final.
“I’m relieved, definitely! I was feeling a little bit flat throughout that match, it was coming in waves and she was playing so well,” said King.
“Her movement, her sharpness, I was just trying to find a way to keep myself in the match. I knew in the fifth it was anyone’s game and whoever was going to play the start of it well was really important, which was what I tried to do.
“When you’ve been on tour for 16 years, you’ve got quite a lot of experience and that was probably the difference today. I tried to use that, start well, play each point as it came and I got a good start, so it was about protecting that.”
King will face third seed Nour El Tayeb in the final, after the Egyptian overcame top seed Amanda Sobhy in a gripping four-game clash.
Despite an hour-long quarter final on Friday, the American didn’t show any signs of tiredness in the early exchanges. She finished off loose balls well in the opening game, and despite El Tayeb saving a couple of game balls, Sobhy took the early lead.
For the midpoint of the second game, the Egyptian, who has been as high as World No.3, was able to turn things around. She was able to get in front in each of the next three games, and she kept those leads to book her spot in the final on Sunday afternoon.
“It feels great! It is a very nice win, a very big win for me today, to back up yesterday and to come today. Amanda is playing well and at the beginning I thought she was going to be tired, so I went short a bit too soon, thinking she would be tired from yesterday’s match but she wasn’t,” El Tayeb admitted.
“You can keep praising the game, it is nice to hear that! Hopefully tomorrow’s opponent heard it as well! It is exciting to be able to play this way again. I am very happy, grateful, to be able to play at this level, to make it to the final of a Gold event in Singapore. It is all very exciting! One more match tomorrow, it is very exciting for me!”
The men’s final will see England’s Mohamed ElShorbagy and Peru’s Diego Elias do battle in Singapore, in a repeat of the Necker Mauritius Open final from five months ago.
ElShorbagy downed Welshman Joel Makin in a tense four-game battle, regrouping after losing the second game from a winning position. He was 10-4 up, but saw Makin win eight straight points to clinch the game. From there, ‘the Beast’ stepped his game up, and was too much in the end for Makin. He will now feature in his fourth final from six events this season.
He will take on the ‘Peruvian Puma’, after Elias defeated Egypt’s Mostafa Asal in a curtailed contest. A 34-minute first game went the way of third seeded Elias. An earlier break in play, which saw Asal step off court with an injury, would lead to the end of the match, as the Egyptian shook hands with Elias at 5-0 down in the second game.