Amanda Sobhy (USA) 3-0  Nele Gilis (BEL) 11-9, 11-8, 11-9 (44m)
The coach (Wael El Hindi) and the father (Khaled) of Mandy Sobhy were keeping wondering why Amanda wasn’t asking for let that should have been strokes… Well, the embrace of the two girls was the answer: those two are really two friends, and I guess the American, knowing that Nele is not at her best physically at the moment – hip worries – probably wanted to win fair and square, but without the help of the ref.
And it gave a great game to watch!
First game, the American just the nose in front, 7/4, but a good spell from the Belgium number 1, 5 points in a row, 9/7. Time for the American to reassess, which she did, 4 points in a row for her this time, 11/9 in 12m.
The second sees the Belgium on fire, truly finding cracks in Amanda’s superb movement/attacking game, 5/2. But yet again, another good spell from the American, and we are back level… 5/5, 7/7, and it’s Mandy till the end of the game, 11/8, 14 long minutes.
But third is even more nailbitting as Mandy seems in control, 6/3, 7/4, match ball 10/6. Nerves creeping in, three completely uncharacteristic errors, 9/10…. but a lucky nick on the return of serve, and Nele is out of the World Champs…
United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy got the better of close friend Nele Gilis, winning 11-9, 11-8, 11-9 to set up a last eight meeting with World No.16 Nada Abbas.
Gilis had won their most recent meeting – at the 2020 CIB Egyptian Open – and had opportunities to take at least a game, particularly in the first when she played some accurate, attacking squash to take a 9-7 lead.
Sobhy was able to move through the gears at the business end of the opening game to establish a 1-0 lead and then fought back from 5-2 down in the second, ramping up the pace at the mid-way point to double her lead.
The American was the more aggressive of the two in the third and hit her corners with conviction to hold four match balls. Three errors in a row then gave Gilis a lifeline, but Sobhy kept her composure to reach the quarter finals of the sport’s biggest tournament for the third time.
“I thought it was a very fair match. We didn’t have many calls and neither of us hit that many errors except from my last three points at the end. Nele and I are best friends and we know each other’s games inside out. I knew she was going to pick up a lot of balls, she’s a fighter and I’m so glad I won in three and finished off the games when it mattered.
“In the first half of games you can get into it and get the feel a little bit, but towards the business end of the games you go up a gear. I tried to do that and focused on what I was doing. Nerves happen, but I’m glad that the first two and the third ended up in my favour.
“I’m happy to keep the 3-0 streak and I’ll rest and repeat.
“We’ve come to Egypt so many times, I’ve been here far too many times to count since I was a kid and growing up, but to be able to play a new venue, a new court, with a new atmosphere, it’s amazing. They’ve definitely raised the standards for us players, so hats off to the organisers, I think a big incentive for me to keep winning is to stay at the Four Seasons.”