Ali Farag
Ali Farag

2021 Day SIX : Quarter-Finals begin

Just sixteen players left in contention for the PSA World Championship titles – the top eight seeds in the Women’s and Men’s events – and the quarter-finals start tonight with four matches in the top half of the draws.

Each of tonight’s matches had an Egyptian higher seed, but it was home favourite Amanda Sobhy who denied an Egyptian clean sweep as she despatched Hania El Hammamy in straight games, setting up a quarter-final with top seed Nour El Sherbini who maintained her winning run against Sarah-Jane Perry, again in straight games.

In the men’s matches Tarek Momen and Ali Farag set up a repeat of their 2019 Chicago World Champs final as they both came from a game down to beat Marwan ElShorbagy and Diego Elias.

PSA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS presented by The Walter Family : QUARTERS (top)

[1] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-0 [6] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng)                              11-6, 12-10, 11-2 (30m)

[3] Tarek Momen (Egy) 3-1 [5] Marwan ElShorbagy (Egy)                   4-11, 11-8, 11-5, 13-11 (50m)

[5] Amanda Sobhy (Usa) 3-0 [4] Hania El Hammamy (Egy)                             11-3, 11-8, 11-9 (41m)

[1] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-1 [8] Diego Elias (Per)                                              7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-4 (60m)


El Sherbini Books Semis Spot

Reigning four-time World Champion continued her fine run through this season’s event, as she won year another match without dropping a game.

The ‘Warrior Princess’ came up against Sarah-Jane Perry in the last eight, and she came into the contest holding a 10-4 advantage over the Englishwoman.

That became 11-4 after their 15th clash on the Tour, following a rapid start from El Sherbini. She won the first in just eight minutes, but then had to withstand a Perry fight-back, as the Englishwoman saved two game balls to force a tie-break. However, the Egyptian took it 12-10, before winning the third 11-2 to book her place in the last four in Chicago.

“I have been playing SJ in the quarters in every tournament now and it seems like the second game, there is always a problem in it! It is a huge difference being 2-0 up to being a 1-1 game so I always want to win the second,” El Sherbini explained.

“For me, this tournament is very important and once I reach the quarters, I tell myself it is a new tournament, and to forget the last few rounds, to start fresh again. I wanted to get myself ready and play my game, find my shots in this match and I did that really well.

“We just spoke about the ball and the court. We have a great respect for each other. SJ is always fair and it always a clean match every time. The chat was just making sure that the ball and court was the same thing for her as it was for me. It was a great match, and it is always fair to play SJ.

“Fingers crossed, I am trying to do my best and just to play my best squash. On to the semis now and I will try to focus and going the same way I am. Hopefully, the next two matches, if there are two, will be good!”

Result: [1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [6] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 12-10, 11-2 (30m)

Defending Champ Momen Moves Into Last Four

World No.3 Tarek Momen continued the defence of his title with a four-game victory over Marwan ElShorbagy, to advance to the semi-finals in Chicago.

‘The Viper’ won the World Championships in 2019-2020, and he is looking good to try and defend his crown this week. He lost the first game in quick time, but bounced back to win the next three games, taking out ‘the Jackal’ after 50 minutes of action.

Tarek Momen
Tarek Momen

“It was a rollercoaster type match. I stared the first two or three points really well but I was so confident in my short game that I decided to only play to the front which didn’t work against Marwan. He just took a step in front of me and won 11 straight points,” he admitted.

“I had to regroup after that first game, change my gameplan and build some rallies before I went short and I think I did that until 8-5. That one rally, I kept beating myself up about it because I had the winning shot but I played it right on his racket.

“Then he is so quick at rattling points. One second I should have been 9-5 up, the next we are now 9-9. It was really tough for me but I am very proud with how I handled my nerves after losing that match point and going game ball down. I did really well to come through and win this match.

“I had to forget about the score, that was the first thing. I had to remember the game plan and just focus on the point I was playing. I think I did that pretty well. I was a bit nervous and edgy but I just tried to think what the right thing to do was, and I managed to get a few of those right.

“I will probably switch off for tonight and if I want to watch it [the Farag-Elias match], I will watch it tomorrow. For now, I just need to recover and see what is going on. I will see how it goes!”

Result: [3] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [5] Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) 3-1: 4-11, 11-8, 11-5, 13-11 (50m)

Sobhy Makes History In Reaching Semis

Amanda Sobhy
Amanda Sobhy

Amanda Sobhy made history on Monday evening in Chicago, as she became the first US-born player to ever reach the semi-finals of the World Championships.

She created that piece of history thanks to an incredible display of squash against World No.5 Hania El Hammamy, who had won the last four meetings between the pair.

With the raucous home crowd behind her, Sobhy was on fire from the get go, winning the first game 11-3. Although the second and third games were much tighter, ‘Southpaw’ was able to win the crucial points, and won out in three to secure her semi-final berth, where she will face World No.1 Nour El Sherbini.

“It’s the best I have played against her in a while. I was up for this match, I was really looking forward to it. She has beaten my the last few times but she has never beaten me on home soil, and we were on home soil tonight!” Sobhy said.

“The crowd kept pushing me. I tried to stay really focussed because she is phenomenal in the big points. I knew she would be really good on those big points so I had to be better. I tried as much as I could to step up, stay confident, stay aggressive in those points, keep pushing the pace and once I won that final shot, all the emotion came out of me. I am very pleased!

“Luckily I have a rest day tomorrow so I will fully take advantage of that. Make sure that I recover well, eat, hydrate and sleep, and then prepare for my match against [Nour El] Sherbini. We played at the Black Ball Open and this season we are at 1-1. I love the energy here, I love competing and I just don’t want it to end, so I will just keep giving it all I have!”

Result: [5] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [4] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-0: 11-3, 11-8, 11-9 (41m)

Farag Comes From Behind to Beat Elias

World No.1 Ali Farag made it 15 straight wins in Chicago as he overturned a one-game deficit to see off the threat of Peru’s Diego Elias.

Farag, who won the 2018-19 PSA World Championships in Chicago as well as the 2020 Windy City Open, is playing with his World No.1 ranking in the balance, with a failure to make the final guaranteeing that rival Mohamed ElShorbagy will take top spot in next month’s rankings.

It was a slow start from the Egyptian as Elias earned a 7-11 victory in game one, but the physicality soon began to eat into the legs of the 24-year-old, and he was warned by the referee for slow play in both the second and third games as Farag came back to take the lead.

The pair went toe-to-toe in the early stages of the fourth game, but Farag had the better of his opponent and pressed ahead to wrap up a 7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-4 victory which will see take on reigning World Champion Tarek Momen in the next round.

That match will be a repeat of the 2018-19 PSA World Championship final over at Chicago’s Union Station – squash’s first $1 million dollar tournament – which Farag won.

“It’s so good to have Diego back on tour,” said Farag.

“He’s such an addition to the tour in terms of style, in terms of geography, in terms of everything. It’s not great to play against him though. We had a strategy in mind because no matter how hard you train, match fitness comes from matches.

“I knew he hadn’t played many matches in the past few months, so I wanted to make that first game long. I was a little silly with a few errors that helped him, so I knew I shouldn’t change anything in the second aside from eliminating those errors. He was reading me well from the front, so I started lobbing more to see where he was and to move him around.

“I’m very glad to run away with the third, he was coming back strong and if I’d have lost it the dynamics would have been totally different. 

“We’ve [Farag and Momen] have gotten closer since Nour [wife, El Tayeb] got pregnant. We’ve been talking about similar experiences and he’s been giving me advice about how to be a good dad and husband to a mum. You saw how well he played today, he’s so quick to the front two corners and he puts the ball away very well.

“I’ll have to contain him in the front two corners, and if I’m able to do that I’ll give myself a chance.”

Result: [1] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [8] Diego Elias (PER) 3-1: 7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-4 (60m)