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The Drexel Dragon

US Open Day 4: As It Happens

Day four brings with it the last day of second round action..

Here’s whats coming up

Draw – Men’s 2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open: Second Round – Bottom Half
[4] Nick Matthew (ENG) v Simon Rösner (GER)
Fares Dessouky (EGY) v Ali Farag (EGY)
[5] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Max Lee (HKG)
[Q] Paul Coll (NZL) v [2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA)

Draw – Women’s 2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open: Second Round – Bottom Half
[4] Nouran Gohar (EGY) v [14] Emily Whitlock (ENG)
Donna Urquhart (AUS) v [7] Amanda Sobhy (USA)
[6] Camille Serme (FRA) v [12] Annie Au (HKG)
[9] Joshna Chinappa (IND) v [2] Laura Massaro (ENG)

Camille Serme got the action underway

One down:

[6] Camille Serme (FRA) bt [12] Annie Au (HKG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-6 (27m)

Gawad Edges Out Max Lee In Edgy Battle

Karim Abdel Gawad, one of the most in-form players on the PSA World Tour right now, staged a late escape to scrape into the last eight of the 2016 US Open and keep his tournament alive courtesy of a 3-2 win over Max Lee that saw him record his first ever PSA Tour win over the Hong Kong number one.

Gawad triumphed at last month’s Al Ahram Open and finished runner-up at the first PSA World Series tournament of the season, August’s Hong Kong Open, but he was fortunate to come out on the winning side of his battle with Lee that saw the duo engage in rally after rally of high class, purist pleasing squash.

The Egyptian, now ranked at a career high No.4, looked to be off the pace in the early going and found himself a game behind as Lee, who has produced some of his best ever performances here including a five-game battle with Amr Shabana two years ago, attacked to take the first game 11-4.

Gawad looked to have got up to speed in the second, restoring parity, but came out on the wrong end of a series of crucial exchanges during the dying stages of the third game that saw Lee take the ascendency once again and after a series fortunate shots went his way the Hong Kong man looked on course for a 3-1 win.

But Gawad fought back with spirit to come through a tie-break and he then secured the win – one that sees him take the driving seat on the Road To Dubai Rankings – to move into the last eight.

“I can’t believe I’m in the quarters to be honest,” said Gawad.

“It was a very tough match and he was close to taking that match 3-1. I had to work so hard in the fourth and fifth games to grab a win. He’s tough physically and mentally.

“I didn’t play my best but he was playing very tight and closing me down. To be a top player you have to find a way even when you are not playing at your best and push yourself as much as you can.”

[5] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-2: 4-11, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6 (74m)

That win meant a lot of Gawad

Gohar Powers Into Quarters

Hong Kong Open winner Nouran Gohar secured her first ever appearance in the last eight of the US Open courtesy of a 3-0 win over England’s Emily Whitlock that wasn’t at straight forward as the scoreline suggests.

Gohar used her trademark hard-hitting and power based game to good effect to take a 2-0 lead but found herself challenged by Whitlock as the English-girl grew into the match, using hight and variation to disrupt Gohar and match her in the attacking stakes.

Whitlock then saved match ball to hold game ball in the third but couldn’t convert, watching as opportunity after opportunity went by before Gohar finally cemented her last eight place courtesy of an 18-16 third game.

“I know Emily is tough – we’ve played a lot in Juniors so I knew I had to be on my game,” said Gohar.

“We have different kinds of styles and she slows the pace down a lot and made it a contrast and in that third game I think it was whoever imposed their pace would win.

“It’s my first quarters here in the US Open so I’m excited to be in the last eight and I’m looking forward to it.”

[4] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [14] Emily Whitlock (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 18-16 (42m)

A frustrated Gohar

Farag Foils Dessouki In Bizarre Finish

What promised to be a contender for match of the round, if not match of the tournament, concluded in bizarre and disappointing circumstances as Ali Farag moved into the US Open quarter-finals after second round opponent Fares Dessouky retired mid-way through the third game of their encounter.

The opening two games lived up to expectation with the duo – who’s mix of subtle skills, effortless movement and outright shot making abilities mark them out as some of the most entertaining players around – matching each other in all four corners of what was squash of the highest calibre.

Farag, the World No.6, managed to do enough to come off the better in the majority – with Dessouky making too many errors at this level – to take the first two games but with the action intensifying in the third, the younger man offered his hand in concession to the surprise of all.

A series of blistering rallies that had both men reaching from all angles and playing frantic exchanges in the front preceded the retirement – with Farag’s class coming out on top in all – but with no obvious signs of injury Dessouky stopped mid rally and offered his hand to his opponent, who moved on to face either Nick Matthew or Simon Rösner in the last eight.

“I think I played well today – it’s unfortunate the way it ended,” said Farag.

“I was disciplined from the beginning and didn’t give him many openings but I was also aggressive as well instead of being passive. So I’m happy with how I played and hopefully that can continue into the next round.

“I don’t think anybody can have an easy draw at the moment so I’m just pleased with how I’m playing.”

Ali Farag (EGY) bt Fares Dessouky (EGY) 11-7, 13-11, 8-3 retired (36m)

Farag strikes

Massaro Eases Past Chinappa To Reach Last 8

Defending champion Laura Massaro continued to impress at the 2016 US Open as she powered into the last eight without a hitch against India’s number one Joshna Chinappa.

The 32-year-old Englishwoman dictated the play from the off to assert her dominance on Chinappa and secure a straight-games win that takes her through to face Frenchwoman Camille Serme in the quarterfinals – having lost her last three encounter with the World No.7.

“Joshna is a very dangerous players and if you let her play her shots she can be trouble,” said Massaro.

“So I’m really happy to come through 3-0. I felt like I found my length a lot better today than I did in my first round. I was hitting the corners and was really happy about that and felt like it paid off.

“A quarter-final match these days is always huge and it’s anyones game. Last time we played in the British Open I wasn’t at my best and she played really well. So in a way the pressure is off so I’m just really looking forward to it.”

[2] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [9] Joshna Chinappa (IND) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-6 (27m)

Massaro in control

General Gaultier Marches Past Coll

Defending Men’s US Open Champion Gregory Gaultier came through a testing battle with rising talent Paul Coll, the highly entertaining World No.30 from New Zealand, to ensure his title defence remains on track at Drexel University.

Although he came through in straight games Gaultier was made to work hard for the victory, with Coll, dubbed ‘Superman’ on Tour, using his physical strength and pace to get on the end of everything Gaultier was hitting and extend the rallies and give the World No.2 his best.

The 24-year-old’s lack of experience on the big stage made the difference in the end as he snatched at several golden opportunities, letting Gaultier off the hook when he had the World Champion on the ropes, in the mid stages of all three games to gift the Frenchman easy points that made the difference.

The Kiwi will take plenty of positives from the encounter but ultimately it was the French General’s experience and patience that counted as he came through 11-7, 11-7, 11-6 to set up a last eight battle with Karim Abdel Gawad, the in-form Egyptian.

“Every game was tough until about 6-6 and then I just managed to up the pace which I think made the difference,” said Gaultier.

“There were a lot of tough long rallies and he was reading me well, so I’m pleased it ended 3-0. He’s a physical monster – he moves well and once he adds a few more elements to his games he’ll be up there at the top.

“I’m here to play whoever is in front of me – I’m training to win and to play as hard as possible and do whatever it takes. Gawad looks sharp and played very well last month but I have no fear and I’ll be ready for him.”

[5] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-2: 4-11, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6 (74m)

Coll lives up to his Superman moniker

Sobhy Secures Quarters Berth

Home favourite Amanda Sobhy edged one step closer to securing a maiden US Open final appearance after defeating a resilient Donna Urquhart 3-1 during today’s second round action at Philadelphia’s Drexel University.

The Harvard-graduate has been in the form of her life since reaching her first ever PSA World Series final on home soil earlier this year – at January’s Tournament of Champions in New York – and continued to impress as she came through what was a potential banana-skin encounter with Urquhart, the Australian who has been as high as No.11 on the World Rankings.

Urquhart showed strong resilience to Sobhy’s trademark all-out attacking style and, despite losing the first game, managed to out gun the American in the second game. But Sobhy’s pressure paid off as Urquhart began to make errors in the mid point stages of the third and fourth games, allowing the 23-year-old to open up an advantage and make the scoreboard pressure pay to secure the 3-1 win and set ups last eight encounter with Egyptian Nouran Gohar – the 19-year-old she lost out to in the final of August’s Hong Kong Open.

“It feels amazing to be in the quarters,” said Sobhy.

“To be last eight at US Open is huge but I hope to keep going further in front of a home crowd. I love playing on home turf so I’m hoping to do the best I can for the fans coming out to support me.

“Donna is a fighter and a great player. Fortunately for me she hit a few tins and I’m just happy that I stuck in there and pulled it off in the end.

“Nouran has been on the rise and has been playing amazingly this past year. She’s the player in form and we had a big match in the final in Hong Kong. There’s maybe bit of redemption on offer for me but my focus is on just trying to play well.”

[7] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Donna Urquhart (AUS) 3-1: 11-7, 5-11, 11-5, 11-5 (37m)

Sobhy on the attack

The Wolf Bites Back Against Rösner

36-year-old Nick Matthew fought back from 2-1 down in trademark style to thwart the charge of German Simon Rösner and secure his place in the quarter-finals of the 2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open.

Rösner, who had never previously beaten Matthew in eight attempts, cut a different figure from his previous encounters against ‘The Wolf’ and, taking inspiration from Matthew’s surprise first round exit at last week’s NetSuite Open, took the match by the scruff of the neck to match Matthew and put the elder statesman on the PSA World Tour on the defensive.

It started slowly for the big German as Matthew took the opening game comfortably but Rösner adapted to take the second and after edging a close third he was in pole position and playing with the kind of accuracy and patience that looked to be taking him towards a victory of huge significance. But Matthew showed the type of Yorkshire stubbornness that has epitomised his career to date to respond in emphatic style and go 9-0 up in the fourth and force a decider.

As the duo matched each other point for point it was the referees who proved vital, with a series of contentious decisions interrupting the flow in the mid stages, before a few crucial errors off the racket of the German allowed Matthew to sniff the finish line and it was a taste he wouldn’t let up on, pushing on to take a win that will serve to bolster his hopes of reaching the finale here once again.

“I was probably down and out there at 2-1 but thanks to my team in the corner – without them I might have lost the belief,” said Matthew.

“I got a good start in the fourth and dropped off but just told myself to stay patient. I feel like I haven’t won a match like that in a little while so it was important for me to win it any way possible. Those were the matches that were my trademark a while ago – it feels like a long time ago.

“I thought it was a relatively clean game and maybe a few decisions went my way in the end of the fifth. I kept telling myself I had the experience of seeing out these matches and ultimately that proved to be the case.

“I’m facing Ali and these guys are maybe the favourites ahead of me now. I came into this match thinking Simon was the favourite and that I have nothing left to prove and it’s the same thing in the quarters. I’ve played Ali twice and he’s beaten me twice so I’m just going to enjoy.”

[4] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Simon Rösner (GER) 3-2: 11-4, 6-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-8 (77m)

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