Day FOUR : Quarter-finals

The MARIGOLD Singapore Squash Open continues at the OCBC Arena with eight quarter-finals featuring all but one of the top seeds and players from nine nations.

You can Watch Live on SquashTV, check the results on Live Scoring and our Draws page, follow updates on our Social Media, and we’ll have photos going into the gallery all day with match reports and quotes here and a roundup at the end of the day.

MARIGOLD Singapore Squash Open 2022 : Day FOUR, QUARTER-FINALS

Women’s Quarters :
[1] Amanda Sobhy
(Usa) 3-2 [9/16] Nele Gilis (Bel)  7-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-9, 12-10 (65m)
[3] Nour El Tayeb (Egy) 3-0 [5] Rowan Elaraby (Egy)  12-10, 11-4, 11-4 (29m)

[2] Joelle King (Nzl) 3-0 [8] Tinne Gilis (Bel)  11-8, 11-7, 11-8 (29m)
[9/16] Sabrina Sobhy (Usa) 3-0 [4] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng)  11-9, 11-8, 11-6 (32m)

Men’s Quarters :
[6] Joel Makin
(Wal) 3-1 Eain Yow Ng (Mas)  11-9, 11-3, 8-11, 11-8 (65m)
[4] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng) 3-0 [5] Tarek Momen (Egy)  12-10, 11-6, 11-9 (41m)

[2] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-0 [8] Victor Crouin (Fra)  11-4, 11-4, 11-4 (39m)
[3] Diego Elias (Per) 3-0 [7] Mazen Hesham (Egy)  11-9, 11-2, 11-9 (37m)

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Reports and Reaction

Elias completes semi-final lineup

Peru’s Diego Elias won an entertaining final match of the day as he held off fightbacks from Mazen Hesham, who was well down in both the first and third games but couldn’t get across the line as Elias edged home in both.

“It was very tough, I’ve been training with Mazen since the summer, we’ve become very good friends and I knew it would be a very good match. I’m just very happy with the win, I’m glad it could close it out, I know he’s a slow starter so I took advantage of that but I knew by the end it was going to be very tough.

I think I’m playing well, I’m moving well. It was a good test today with Mazen because he’s very random and plays a lot to the front and I’m glad I could get all those shots so I’m very happy with my movement.

I think it will be a tough one, Mostafa is playing very well so I just need to go back now and recover to get ready for that one.”

Sobhy stuns Perry to reach first Gold semi

USA’s Sabrina Sobhy scored yet another seeding upset as she overcame England #1 Sarah-Jane Perry in straight games to advance to her first Gold event semi-final.

The American possesses exceptional movement and used this to full effect as she covered a lot of ground on the court to constantly test the shots and capabilities of Perry. The Englishwoman did her best in game one to move Sobhy and tire her out but the USA No.3 was more than up to the task as she closed out the game 11-9.

A similar pattern followed in the next two games as the movement and intensity of Sobhy never seemed to waiver. Perry again did her best to control the pace and hit good areas but the retreival abilities of her opponent made her margin for error that bit smaller which resulted in more errors from the England No.1’s racket.

After setting up a 2-0 lead, Sobhy started to express herself with her shots. She started to sense the tiredness setting in with Perry and attacked the front of the court just at the right time to test the Perry movement. The No.4 seed had no response and couldn’t find a way back into the match, losing the third game 11-6.

“It feels awesome. I couldn’t have asked for a better week so far in Singapore, it’s been really chilled and relaxing, the hospitality has been fantastic and it adds a level of ease that all the players look for. I feel like I’ve had that this week and that has made me a little more relaxed on court and found some more enjoyment in there and I’ve been having a great time.

I appreciate the crowd and the liveliness that the atmosphere has. SJ [Perry] is one of those players who will make you run to every corner frantically, which I definitely felt in many rallies for nearly the entire game but somehow I managed to sneak it out in the end. Each rally was physically and definitely difficult which is why she’s one of the best squash players.”

Asal all the fours against Crouin

Egypt’s ‘Raging Bull’ Mostafa Asal was in top form as he overcame France’s Victor Crouin in straight games to reach the Gold event semi-finals.

The second seed was relentless in his hitting to the back corners, pulverising the ball to find a great length at a pace that was uncomfortable for the Frenchman to deal with. The Egyptian stayed in front of Crouin for large parts of the match with the Frenchman unable to get the ball past the wingspan of Asal.

The World No.4 motored through each game with devastating effect, using his backhand drop and kill combination whenever the chance presented itself which gave Crouin no idea where the ball was going. Asal took all three games 11-4 to move into semi-finals, Diego Elias or Mazen Hesham will be his opponent.

“It’s amazing to be here again, thanks for the crowd for coming today. It’s an honour to be here and playing one of the best tournaments,” said Asal.

Victor is one of the toughest opponents to play, he’s my generation. We didn’t play together in the World Junior Championships but I saw him in the finals as I was losing in the quarters. So to play against him and to see my generation playing with me makes me feel I’m not alone with all the older guys here.”

King powers past Tinne

New Zealand’s second seed Joelle King powered past Belgium’s Tinne Gilis in the opening match of the evening session in straight games to reach her fourth consecutive PSA World Tour semi-final.

King was on top for the majority of the match and settled into her rhythm of crisp hitting early in the encounter. She pinned Gilis deep in the back corners and capitalised on loose returns from the Belgian at the front of the court. Gilis tried her best to get into the contest but could only manage to sneak erratic winners and was unable to string any consistent pressure together to trouble King.

After setting up a 2-0 lead, the recent New Zealand Open champion continued to press. She moved from strength to strength in game three and fought back from a 5-3 deficit to take the third game 11-8 and move into the final four.

“That was tough,” admitted King.

“I’m close to Tinne so it’s always hard when you like someone and you know they’re battling a bit so it’s difficult to not think about them but I just tried to play the end of each game really well, she was firing it in and I had to work really hard. I was feeling tired today so I think this is a really good win.

I’m loving it here, hot surroundings so my body gets warm but a dead court is perfect conditions for me but we’re getting further into the tournament now and I’m playing someone in the semi-finals tomorrow so it’s a new day and a new challenge so I just have to be ready.”

ElShorbagy battles past Momen

In a battle of two former World Champions, it was Mohamed ElShorbagy who came out on top against 2019 World Champs winner Tarek Momen.

The first game was tight and tense, with neither man able to establish a lead. There was plenty of chat with the referee as well, but in the end, it was the Englishman who claimed it on a tie-break 12-10 after saving game ball at 10-9 down.

That gave him the confidence and the momentum to move on with his performance, and he went to finish it in three, with a tight third game eventually going his way 11-9. He will play Joel Makin in the semi-finals in Singapore.

“I think we both were quite tense in the first game. We both gave the referee a bit of a hard time, we were both arguing a lot with the referee, so I apologise to him for that,” ElShorbagy said.

“Sometimes, when you get two top players playing each other, we both know that the first game is very important. I think that is the reason we were both aggressive. At the end of the day, you want that. You want two top players to go at each other hard and we both did this! I am happy to win, to get through to the semis, and I am happy to be here again tomorrow!

“It’s what we train for. To be fair to him, he had a very tough first round match with Miguel [Rodriguez], played five games and I knew he needed that first game probably more than I did. When I got it, I knew the work I put into him, winning it gives me a big mental advantage, so it was so important for me to get it. To get off court in three in general is always a bonus, but to do it with Tarek, you get a lot of confidence with this.

“As I said, I am really happy with the win, and I am really happy to play in front of this Singaporean crowd here for another day, and I look forward to being here tomorrow.”

El Tayeb wins all-Egyptian matchup

Third seed Nour El Tayeb was in good form to get the better of compatriot and Rowan Elaraby, making her way into the last four.

The pair met at the Grasshopper Cup last month, and on that occasion, it was the lower-ranked Elaraby that came out on top in the best-of-three format. This contest, back in the usual best-of-five format, started with a tough first game.

Neither player could find their rhythm and timing to capitalise, and it went all the way to a tie-break. In the end, El Tayeb claimed it 12-10, and that was crucial, as she went on to win both the second and third games 11-4 to secure the win. Elaraby was not at full fitness, but the World No.6 got the job done in under half an hour to set up a clash with top seed and World No.4 Amanda Sobhy.

“You know, coming up against Rowan is tough. Lately, we have become very good friends, she is like a younger sister. I hate playing against her and she knows it,” El Tayeb said.

“Last time, a few weeks ago, she beat me 2-0 in Zurich. I tried to play better and learn from the last match. It is always tough playing against her, and I think there was something wrong with her in the middle of the match. It is always tough to play against someone who is not moving well but is very skilful. I am very pleased with my performance, and definitely pleased to be in the semis here.

“I am playing against someone [Amanda Sobhy] who likes high intensity as well, so I will have to see about that. Amanda and I, we were joking about how we have played a lot this season. This is already our fourth time against each other. We are good friends, we have been playing together for over, what is it.. 15 years. It will be a fun, fair and tough match, for sure.”

Makin denies Ng another upset

Welshman Joel Makin had to dig deep, but he eventually came through his quarter final contest with Malaysian No.1 Eain Yow Ng, winning after 65 minutes of high quality action.

After a tight start to the first game, it was the World No.9 then took the lead in the contest with an 11-9 scoreline, before then running away with the second game, thanks to his accurate line hitting.

He then held a big lead in the third game, and looked like he would win in straight games. However, from 8-3 down, the Malaysian produced a stunning fightback. A short break in play to clean the court at 8-4 gave Ng the ability to turn it around, winning seven straight points after it to take the match into a fourth game.

Makin was then able to just keep his nose in front throughout the fourth, with Ng hitting errors at crucial times. The match ended on an incredible rally, in which both players hit the floor but were able to get up and continue, with a stroke going Makin’s way to clinch a 3-1 victory.

“I don’t care about what happened in that final rally, I just had to get that stroke. That was all that mattered,” he said.

“That was a joke. He is playing very well. People don’t realise the level he is playing at, taking out a few good players in a row, 3-2, 3-2. Beating Paul [Coll] from two down. I had the match won there, but he is good like that and I rate that. He came back, he almost didn’t deserve to get back into the match and then it looked like he was pushing on in the fourth, so all credit to him there.

“It gave him a simple way to play from that point forward. He had a gameplan that wasn’t working, I was getting on top and he started attacking. If he had a chance, he was slow-balling and then attacking. He was being disruptive and with a good level of squash. I just had to work hard and find my spots again!”

Sobhy squeezes into the semis

US No.1 and World No.4 Amanda Sobhy had to go the distance in her quarter final match against Belgium’s Nele Gilis at the OCBC Arena, eventually winning a fifth-game tie-break to move into the last four of the Gold level competition.

The top seed held a 3-1 advantage over Gilis in their previous four meetings, but it was the Belgian who started strongly. Sobhy came back in the middle of the first game, but Gilis was able to power on, winning four straight points from 6-6 onwards to set up a first game win.

The pair then took on each of the next two games. Gilis saved three game balls in the second but Sobhy still won it 11-7, before the Belgian then came through to win the third game 11-4. The World No.14 then almost managed to seal the deal at the end of the fourth. She saved two game balls, and was about to save a third, but a stroke on the last game ball gave the American the 11-9 win she needed to extend the contest into a decider.

After a quick start from Sobhy in the fifth game, Gilis brought it level to 8-8, essentially making it a three point shoot-out. It was the Belgian who had the first match ball, but the World No.4 was able to save it at 10-9, before going on to win the game 12-10 to take the match, and to seal her place in the semi-finals.

“I’m a little tired! Very relieved, but definitely tired! She got a lot of balls back, and definitely caught me off guard. I am definitely happy to win that last point at the end!” Sobhy said.

“I had to try a little bit harder, a bit more effort, kick myself up a gear. It was helpful not to have to do it alone, and to have someone in my corner to tell me those things. So thank you Diego [Elias]. She gets a lot of balls back, so it’s having to win the rally a few times to actually win the rally. It was a really good match and I am just pleased that I was the winner in the end.”