Egypt’s Orfi becomes youngest player in history to reach Round Three
At the age of 15 years and 10 months, Egyptian sensation Amina Orfi has become the youngest player ever to reach the third round of the PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family after a stunning win over USA’s 13th seed Olivia Clyne at Chicago’s Union Station.
“I feel so happy, I didn’t know I was the youngest player, so knowing this now motivates me,” said Orfi. “The first game was crucial and I think that’s what opened the match up for me. I’m not focusing on how far I can go, I’m just focusing on my game. Hopefully I can do well and continue on for the rest of the tournament.”
That was the only seeding upset in the women’s draw as Orfi, the reigning World and British Junior Open champion, joined six fellow-Egyptians in the last sixteen. Orfi now faces third seed Hania El Hammamy, her predecessor as World Junior Champion. Wales’ 15th seed Tesni Evans was the only five-game winner as she edged past Malaysia’s Aifa Azman.
In the men’s draw, top seed Mostafa Asal avoided a shock defeat against 2015 runner-up Omar Mosaad, prevailing in five games after 81 minutes of action.
The top seven seeds all progressed but Aly Abou Eleinen shocked French eight seed Victor Crouin with a five game victory to join seven other Egyptians in the last sixteen. Qualifier Mohamed Abouelghar and Chicago local Nathan Lake also upset the seedings as they ousted Fares Dessouky and Gregoire Marche. Former champion Tarek Momen was given a stern as he twice trailed Mexico’s Leonel Cardenas before winning in five games.
Reigning World Champions Nour El Sherbini and Ali Farag both advanced to round three as matches on the glass court at the spectacular Union Station began.
The Egyptian duo both won 3-0 on their first matches on the glass court – with six-time World Champion El Sherbini dispatching Marie Stephan in just 23 minutes.
“I’m pleased with the way I played, the first match of the day was a bit tricky for me,” El Sherbini said post-match. “I’ve not done it for a long time and I thought it was very bright here. It’s a good match to win and I’ll focus on the next one.
“Every day has a different situation and I’ve been training the whole week, so it’s good to come and play a match for 30 minutes. It’s good for my body, I have a day off tomorrow, so I’m going to push more in practice tomorrow to keep the body ready.
“I love it [the court], the pink colour really suits the court. I wanted to get used to it because it’s a long time since I’ve played on this court. It’s very cool.”
El Sherbini’s opponent in round three will be World No.9 Sarah-Jane Perry, who saw off Nicole Bunyan in straight games.
“It was very tricky because he is a lefty first and foremost, but then with his left hand he holds the ball a lot and waits until the last minute to hit his shot,” Farag said. “He has so many options, so you have to be on your toes from the beginning. You try to cut it from the source, you try not to give him much time on the ball and you want to twist and turn him, but at the same time he is good on the volley. I had to get my balance right and I think I did that for the most part.
“The court is brilliant. I’ve played on it a couple of times at the World Tour Finals in Dubai and I love how unique it is. It’s the perfect occasion to put it up in Union Station for the World Champs, the biggest event of the year. It feels amazing to be back. I won my first World Championships here, but it was a bit of a tough night because Nour [wife, El Tayeb] lost on the same night. I have good memories but they are nothing if you don’t perform on the day.”
Farag’s wife Nour El Tayeb continued her successful return from injury by sealing her place in the third round after downing Jasmine Hutton 3-1. El Tayeb, who’s been out of action since the beginning of the year, went one game up before Hutton responded to restore parity in the second. However El Tayeb fought back to take the second and third to progress to the next round.
“I felt today I played much better than my previous match,” said El Tayeb. “Jasmine has improved a lot and we played a few years ago and I think she’s improved her squash a lot. It was a tough match – I’m still coming back and getting used to matches again.
“I have to be aware that I haven’t been playing and all the things which are natural that I used to do and it’s okay when they don’t happen. Some things I’m used, but they don’t I see them happen as quickly as I did. I need to accept that and I thought I did them well today. It’s good to have a tough match – it’s very important for me to be under pressure in a match before I win it. It’s good for my confidence and it’s given me a lot of confidence for the next match.”
USA’s Sabrina Sobhy awaits El Tayeb in the next round, who defeated Hana Ramadan in straight sets. Tinne Gilis, Salma Hany and Sarah-Jane Perry all won by the same scoreline.
Fellow Egyptian and World No.54 Mohamed Abouelghar pulled off one of the shocks of the day as he dumped tenth seed Fares Dessouky out of the tournament. The Egyptian pair were locked at a game apiece before Abouelghar won the third and fourth 11-3, 11-7 to beat his compatriot and move into the next round.
Youssef Ibrahim and Marwan ElShorbagy also won by the same scoreline to advance, while Saurav Ghosal and Karim Abdel Gawad notched 3-0 victories.
Former World Champion Tarek Momen went the distance with Leonel Cardenas, but managed to pull through to win 3-2.
“It’s always tricky playing your first match on the glass court against a young opponent,” said Gohar. “It was a tricky match but I’m glad with the way I managed the match and got through in three.
“She’s going to be one of the best. She’s a very talented player, it’s just a matter of how much hard work you put in. It’s great to see that more Egyptians are following in out footsteps. Tinne is one of the best players right now. She’s in the top top 15 now and it’s always hard against her.”
The top player in the men’s game Diego Elias also comfortably secured his place in the next round with a 3-0 victory.
“I was just feeling really good and I was enjoying It,” Elias said post-match. “Getting to No.1 was a dream come true but there was no time to celebrate because I have this tournament, which is the most important one of the year. I had a few days off but I had to train to get ready for this.
“I’ve been trying to change how I play in the first few rounds. I’ve been trying to be sharper than before and I think I’ve improved. I’m not putting any pressure on myself this week, I had a lot of pressure to get to World No.1, but now I’m there it’s time to win titles and enjoy it when I step on court.”
Hania El Hammamy came through a tough battle with her Egyptian compatriot Farida Mohamed to seal her place on the glass court in the third round.
El Hammamy edged a tense battle in the first, which finished 17-15, before Mohamed drew level. But El Hammamy was able to dig deep to win the next two games to clinch the victory.
“Finding your length and finding your game on a traditional court is tricky compared to the glass court,” El Hammamy said.
“I’m used to playing on the glass court at every event now. I didn’t have that opportunity in this round so it took a bit of time to adjust to try find my game.
“The match against Farida (Mohamed) was a bit scrappy in the middle. I’m definitely happy to get through and to play another match. I don’t have a rest day so I need to focus on recovery.”
Evening Roundup: Orfi ngatecrashes last 16 as Asal survives
At the age of 15 years and 10 months, Egyptian sensation Amina Orfi has become the youngest player ever to reach the third round of the PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family after a stunning win over USA No.3 Olivia Clyne at Chicago’s Union Station this evening.
Orfi – who qualified for this season’s World Championships as a result of her World Junior Championship win last summer – was in devastating form as she dominated the opening two games against an opponent twice her age. Clyne, ranked at No.13 in the world, has been in fine form recently and has reached two PSA finals already in 2023, but she was unable to contain the teenager, who played without fear and didn’t look troubled by the occasion.
A mouthwatering clash with World No.3 Hania El Hammamy awaits Orfi.
“I feel so happy, I didn’t know I was the youngest player, so knowing this now motivates me,” said Orfi. “The first game was crucial and I think that’s what opened the match up for me. I’m not focusing on it [how far she can go in the tournament] and I’m just focusing on my game. Hopefully I can do well and continue on for the rest of the tournament.”
Men’s top seed Mostafa Asal avoided a shock defeat against World No.31 Omar Mosaad, eventually coming through in five games to reach the third round of the PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family.
Asal is competing at his first tournament since March’s Canary Wharf Classic after receiving a six-month suspension for dangerous play and he found it tough going against a tenacious Mosaad, who was a beaten finalist at the 2015 World Championships. ‘The Raging Bull’ lacked the intensity he typically displays on court and looked quite flat in the opening stages as the hard-hitting Mosaad took a surprise one-game lead.
Asal looked to have steadied the ship after improving in the second and third games, but Mosaad wouldn’t go away and played some fantastic squash to send the match to a decider. Mosaad threatened to spoil Asal’s return to action after he battled back from 9-4 down to come back to within a point. However, the 21-year-old – who topped the World Rankings as recently as last month – was able to hold his nerve to see out the win.
Asal will take on Joel Makin in the next round after the Welshman defeated Scotland’s Rory Stewart over at the University Club of Chicago. Makin won the pair’s last meeting at the Canary Wharf Classic and Asal will be out for revenge.
“I need these kind of matches, physically I’m okay,” said Asal. “Mosaad was playing superb squash and all credit to him. I need this to get my momentum for the tournament. 3-2 is not what I was aiming for but I’ll take the positives. “It was a difficult match [against Makin] in Canary Wharf. I hope squash can do the talking in this match. He’s a good player and has done a fantastic job this season.”
2017 World Champion Mohamed ElShorbagy was tested by regular training partner Eain Yow Ng, but the World No.2 was able to overturn a one-game deficit to book his spot in the last 16.
It was an error-strewn opening game from the Englishman, while Eain Yow barely missed any of his attacking shots into the front of the court. ElShorbagy looked like he might not be 100 per cent physically in the second game as he stretched out his glute mid-way through and wasn’t equal to some of his opponent’s shots like he might usually have been.
ElShorbagy was able to get over the problem, however, and duly took a 2-1 lead as Eain Yow began to fade, only for the Malaysian to get back on top and hold a 9-7 advantage in the fourth. Within a flash, ElShorbagy struck back and rattled off four quick points to seal his seventh straight win over Eain Yow.
Next up for ElShorbagy is a grudge match against World No.30 Youssef Ibrahim. Ibrahim is one of very few players to have a positive head-to-head record against ElShorbagy and has won all three of his matches against the former World No.1.
“It was 8-7 and then there was a decision to change a let to a stroke after a review and that was the right decision, to be fair,” said ElShorbagy afterwards. “I think that stoppage was good for me to regroup. I won four quick points, I’ll take it and I’ll focus on the next round now.
“There aren’t many people who have have had an advantage over me. When the draw came out, I knew this [a match against Ibrahim] would be a hurdle. The closest I’ve gotten to him was here in Chicago last year when I was 2-0 up and he came back and beat me. I have another chance to beat him and he’s going to be one of the guys who is World No.1 or World Champion in the future.”
United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy put in an immaculate performance to dismantle Canada’s Hollie Naughton in straight games as she booked her place in the third round.
Sobhy put in a performance befitting the incredible court at Union Station as she dominated proceedings, powering to an 11-4, 11-5, 11-3 win in just 28 minutes. The only thing that was able to temporarily halt Sobhy’s momentum was a small issue with the court floor, with play brought to a halt in the opening game after a piece of wood cracked in half.
The problem was soon dealt with by tournament organisers and upon her return to court, Sobhy picked up where she left off, storming to the win to set up a round three meeting with Egypt’s Salma Hany, who has lost to Sobhy in her previous three events.
“I’m happy I adjusted to the conditions and found my length, that’s going to be crucial,” said Sobhy. “I’m trying to preserve myself for the event, so I’m pretty happy with that.
“I’ve never seen a little piece of the floor fall off, but duct tape cures everything. Once we got going it was fine and thankfully Hollie didn’t slip and hurt herself and it didn’t affect our match.
“It gives me confidence [her recent form against Hany] but this is the fourth event in a row that we are playing each other, so I’m going to have a word with whoever does the PSA draws because this is just ridiculous. I’m sure she’s not happy about it, I know the head to head is in my favour, but I would really like to play other people too.”
Local man Nathan Lake reached the last 16 for the first time following a superb win against World No.18 Gregoire Marche and he will take on reigning champion Ali Farag next. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Aly Abou Eleinen upset No.8 seed Victor Crouin, coming out on top 3-2 after 82 gripping minutes.
The third round of the PSA World Championships will begin tomorrow, with play starting at 12:00 (GMT-5). All of the action from Union Station will be streamed on SQUASHTV