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TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS: DAY FOUR - AS IT HAPPENS

Day four of the 2018 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions will see men’s second round action and women’s first round action come to a close inside one of the most iconic locations in squash – New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

Coming up during another action-packed day is the highly anticipated return of Amanda Sobhy – the American who has been out of action for almost a year following a ruptured achilies tendon.

Sobhy goes up against Rachael Grinham in one of the last matches of the day, while her younger sister Sabrina will also make an appearance – taking on defending champion Camille Serme – with the hopes of making it a family double on home turf.

On the men’s side of play all eyes will be on two mouthwatering matches between Ali Farag and Miguel Angel Rodriguez and the Ramy Ashour v Paul Coll showdown.

The mix of athleticism, wizardry, shot making and speed between all four could combine for two superb matches – with the crowd inside Grand Central guaranteed a spectacle of squash.

Here’s the schedule for the day – times local
[Q] Samantha Cornett (CAN) v [6] Nicol David (MAS)
[7] Tarek Momen (EGY) v Diego Elias (PER)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v [2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
[3] Camille Serme (FRA) v [Q] Sabrina Sobhy (USA)
[3] Ali Farag (EGY) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [8] Paul Coll (NZL)
[Q] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v [2] Raneem El Welily (EGY)
[Q] Rachael Grinham (AUS) v [12] Amanda Sobhy (USA)
[8] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND)

Matches can be watched LIVE on SquashTV and Eurosport Player.

Routine Start For David

2014 champion Nicol David got her 2018 Tournament of Champions campaign off to a winning start with a routine straight-games victory over Canadian qualifier Samantha Cornett.

Cornett, who beat Weenee Low and compatriot Danielle Letourneau to reach the main draw and secure her first appearance inside Grand Central Terminal, put up a gallant fight and managed to stick close to David throughout the first game before eventually losing out 11-8.

But from then on the Malaysian eight-time World Champion – who is hoping to progress beyond the last eight of a major PSA World Series event for the first time in almost a year – was in cruise control, stepping up the court to dominate the exchanges and take time away from Cornett to nullify her attacking ability and profit 11-3, 11-4 in the second and third games to seal the win.

“She's a very fair and true player so I was making sure I played tight squash today and I think I played solid,” said David.

“There's a great buzz coming here to New York to play in this venue and I felt good today. Having equal prize money at this event is a great thing for squash and I just want to give it my all this week.”

Result:
[6] Nicol David (MAS) bt [Q] Samantha Cornett (CAN) 3-0: 11-7, 11-3, 11-4 (27m)

Momen Overcomes Hindered Elias

A 3-0 win over Diego Elias saw Egypt's Tarek Momen book his place in the quarter-finals in New York.

Elias, who missed the World Championships at the end of 2017 due to injury, suffered a scare during his first round victory over Declan James when injury appeared to strike again and while he came through that encounter he was evidently looking to protect his right leg against Momen, playing off his left for the majority of the game and as a result, playing well below his abilities.

The Peruvian's racket skills were enough to keep him in contention throughout the first, but once settled into the encounter Momen began to press the advantage, utilising his speed and touch to open up the court, and with it, a commanding lead in the second game.

That continued to be the story in the third as Momen kept the scoreboard ticking over without much difficulty, coming through after just 25 minutes of play.

“It was tricky out there,” said Momen.

“I watched his game with Declan and saw he was using the other leg a lot so I was trying to expose that and see if his movement would let him down. He pushed hard in some patches and that can get into your head, you can start thinking whether or not he can pull it off and lose focus on the match.

“We've played a few matches in the past but we've both had injury issues in every one of them. It's not the best way to get through a match but I'll take it. Today was good for me to help my recovery and hopefully I'll be ready to go for the quarter-finals.”

Result:
[7] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Diego Elias (PER) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-4 (25m)

ElShorbagy Sent Packing As Cuskelly Wins New York Thriller

In his adopted hometown of New York, Australian Ryan Cuskelly pulled off one of the biggest wins of his career as he knocked World Champion Mohamed ElShorbagy out of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in a thrilling second round battle – coming through a mammoth 90 minute encounter to cause a huge upset and end the Egyptian's hopes of reclaiming the World No.1 ranking in the process.

Coming into the match ElShorbagy had won 28 of his past 30 matches on the PSA World Tour, including a run of 21 consecutive matches that saw him collect four titles on the trot including December's World Championship and close the gap on Gregory Gaultier atop the World Rankings.

But the Egyptian found himself out-muscled and out-hustled by Cuskelly in an absorbing encounter as the man who has called New York home for almost a decade produced one of his best ever displays throughout a a match of the highest calibre – with the duo duking it out in back and forth fashion from the off, with pulsating rallies, interspersed with sublime winners, delighting a capacity crowd inside Grand Central Terminal.

After starting strong Cuskelly managed to hold his nerve in a first game tie-break to open up an early advantage, but as the match continued the level of play continued to go up from both, resulting in some of the best squash seen all season.

ElShorbagy took the second to level, before Cuskelly again forged ahead 2-1. ElShorbagy again mounted a charge to take the game into a final fifth game. With Cuskelly ahead 7-2, the Egyptian showed every ounce of grit and stubbornness that personifies his play as he clawed his way back, with each point greeted by an audible intake of breath amongst the crowd.

With the tension ratcheted up, Cuskelly managed to break the flow to move ahead 9-6 before setting up match ball – when he converted on a stroke decision to the delight of the crowd.

“That's probably the biggest win of my career,” said Cuskelly afterwards.

“And winning here in New York, a place I've called home for the best part of a decade, in front of family and friends makes it extra special. My wife was trying to scout tickets for the day to get everyone in so I'm really happy to pull the win off and I have to thank everyone for the great support I had today.

“In the past I've always struggled against him. I'm not sure I've even gotten a game off him before. His style seems to hurt me, but I've put in a lot of hard work over Christmas and changed up my training a little.

“I came in today with a game plan and tried to vary the pace and be aggressive when I could and just hang in there when he got on a roll. I managed to get some errors out of him and hit my winners as well so I'm really happy.”

Result:
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt [2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 12-10, 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6 (90m)

Serme Too Strong For Sobhy

Camille Serme (right) v Sabrina Sobhy (left)

Defending champion Camille Serme marched into the second round of the Women's 2018 ToC with a solid win over American Sabrina Sobhy – coming through 3-0 over the local hopeful.

Sobhy, younger sister for former top ten player Amanda who makes her return to competitive action later today, came through qualification to book her first ever appearance on the glass court inside Grand Central Terminal but came up short against the Frenchwoman, who looked to be in ruthless form.

Serme took control from the off and never allowed the Team USA player to settle in the opening game and while Sobhy managed to get into proceedings more in the second, she was always a step behind as Serme powered through 11-3, 11-8, 11-3.

“I saw Sabrina play against Coline (Aumard) a few days ago and knew she would be dangerous today,” said Serme.

“I love coming back to New York – it's so much fun to be playing here and I want to enjoy every minute of it and spend as much time on that court as I can.”

Result
[3] Camille Serme (FRA) bt [Q] Sabrina Sobhy (USA) 3-0: 11-3, 11-8, 11-3 (21m)

Farag Defeats Rodriguez to Reach ToC Last Eight For First Time

Ali Farag

World No.3 Ali Farag made it five wins in a row against Colombia’s former World No.4 Miguel Angel Rodriguez to book his place in the quarter-finals of the Tournament of Champions for the first time.

Harvard-graduate Farag and 2015 Tournament of Champions semi-finalist Rodriguez were meeting for the second tournament in succession after Farag had recovered from a game down to beat the 32-year-old in last month’s PSA World Championships and he prevailed in two tight opening games by 11-9 margins.

A typical all-action display from Rodriguez captivated the spectators at New York’s Grand Central Terminal but it was the accuracy of Farag that saw the 25-year-old Egyptian sneak the first two games.


It was all Farag in the fourth as he moved Rodriguez around court at will and, despite a mini-resurgence from the Colombian mid-way through, he held out to complete an 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 victory.

“I watched every point from our match together at the Worlds a month ago, so I knew what to expect,” said Farag.

“I know how fast he is on court and he seems to get faster as he gets older. I had to be composed and I’m very happy with the way I stayed calm on court and I hope I can take that through into the following rounds.”

Result
[3] Ali Farag (EGY) bt Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 3-0: 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 (39m)

Ashour Digs Deep to Defeat Coll

Ramy Ashour

Three-time Tournament of Champions winner Ramy Ashour overcame Kiwi World No.11 Paul Coll to set up a mouthwatering quarter-final clash with World No.3 Ali Farag.

Ashour, who had won 11 successive matches at the Tournament of Champions – a run which also saw him lift the 2011 and 2013 titles – was meeting Coll for the first time on the PSA World Tour.

The Egyptian maverick was red hot in the opening game as he hit winners for fun and dominated the play against his opponent, punishing any loose from Coll in a stunning array of squash from the 30-year-old.

However, he was unable to replicate his dominance in the second game as Coll acquitted himself well and lengthened the rallies, which played into his hands as he levelled the scores.

There was little between the two in the opener until, with the scores poised at six points apiece, Ashour pulled away, taking five of the next six points on offer to restore his lead.

And it was all Ashour in the fourth as he gave Coll nothing to work off and he wrapped up the win in 59 minutes to ensure that he will meet Farag for the first time since an epic five-game clash in September’s J.P. Morgan China Open final.


“I don’t know how it looks from the outside, but when I watch us playing I see it as very simple movement and a very simple kind of pace, but you have no idea how many details are in there,” said Ashour.

“There’s so much happening on that court, there’s so much energy, so many thoughts, different vibes and strategies. My energy affects his energy and the way he hits the ball affects the way I hit the ball. That’s why it’s a brilliant sport and why I love it so much.

“The match was pretty intense physically and I haven’t played a match that long for a long time. Paul is very fit and he is like a crocodile on court. He’s a lizard and he’s very rubbery.

“Wherever you throw the ball, he is there, it’s as if he had a limb in every corner of the court, it’s incredible.

“It was interesting playing him, I’ve never played him in a real match before and I’m sure we’ll have a lot more battles in the future.”

Result
Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [8] Paul Coll (NZL) 3-1: 11-4, 7-11, 11-7, 11-4 (59m)

Injury Scare Blemishes El Welily’s Win Over Duncalf

World Champion Raneem El Welily overcame former World No.2 Jenny Duncalf to reach the second round but the victory may have come at a cost after the Egyptian shot-making sensation rolled her ankle painfully during the third game and required immediate treatment both then and after the match.

The 29-year-old was 2-1 up and 8-4 ahead in the fourth when she went over on her ankle while running over to collect a tinned ball from Duncalf, meaning she had to take a three-minute injury break.

El Welily had been under the cosh early on against Duncalf, who came through a gruelling five-game clash with Mexico’s Samantha Teran in the final round of qualifying, with Duncalf playing some brilliant attacking squash to edge it 11-9.

But El Welily found her range in the second and third games as she found the front wall rather than the tin and she dropped just a single point in the second before taking the third for the loss of seven points.

Her injury then briefly put a halt to proceedings and, after returning to court with heavy strapping on her ankle, El Welily made no mistake in closing out the win to set up a second round encounter with number 15 seed Tesni Evans.

Result
[2] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt [Q] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 3-1: 9-11, 11-1, 11-7, 11-4 (37m)

US Star Sobhy Makes Winning Return From Injury

Amanda Sobhy (right) v Rachael Grinham (left)

Team USA’s Amanda Sobhy made her return from a 10-month injury layoff with victory over 2007 World Champion Rachael Grinham in front of her home fans inside Grand Central Terminal.

Sobhy put together some of her greatest ever performances en route to reaching the final here back in 2016 as she became the first American-born woman ever to reach the title decider of the iconic tournament.

Despite falling to current World No.1 Nour El Sherbini in the final, the Harvard-graduate soon moved up to a career-high World No.6 ranking and looked destined to fight for the sport’s major honours after also reaching the final of the Hong Kong Open later that year.

But a ruptured achilles against American teammate Olivia Blatchford in the semi-finals of the Ciudad de Floridablanca last March put an end to her superb progress to date and forced her into a gruelling 10-month period of rehabilitation.

And, after fighting off the shot-making talents of Australia’s Grinham to claim an 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 11-3 victory, Sobhy admits she is delighted to make her return to the PSA World Tour.

“It feels good to be back,” said Sobhy.

“When you’re out as long as I was, just being on court is a huge accomplishment. I’ve waited for so long and I got pushed, it was my first match and it wasn’t easy.

“I’m relieved to win but I’m also really happy to be back on Tour. She has an impeccable front court game and that tested out my little leg. I’m happy that I could get the majority of her balls and maybe for my next match I’ll be slightly better.”

This year’s tournament saw four American women appear in the main draw of a PSA World Tour event for the first time after Blatchford, tournament wildcard Marina Stefanoni and Sobhy’s younger sister, Sabrina, all competed, with Sobhy and Blatchford advancing to the second round to keep US hopes alive.

Sobhy said: “This is huge, a few years ago we had maybe one, but every year we keep improving. US Squash has done an amazing job supporting its athletes and we’re putting in the hard work, we’re really stepping up to the plate.

“You can see we’re hungry to get up on the podium in the World Teams, in tournaments and in PanAm Games. We’re putting in the work and we want to be a force to be reckoned with.”

Result
[12] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [Q] Rachael Grinham (AUS) 3-1: 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 11-3 (37m)

El Tayeb Eases Past Pallikal Karthik

Nour El Tayeb (left) v Dipika Pallikal Karthik (right)

Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb made short work of India’s World No.20 Dipika Pallikal Karthik as she eased to a 3-0 victory to set up a second round clash with 2016 runner-up Amanda Sobhy.

El Tayeb’s last appearance in the United States saw her lift the women’s U.S. Open title back in October, shortly before husband Ali Farag took the men’s title, making them the first married couple in sporting history ever to win the same major sports title on the same day.

This time around, in New York, El Tayeb was in cruise control as she eased to a victory in straight games against Pallikal Karthik and was rarely troubled as she recorded an 11-2, 11-5, 11-4 victory in just 18 minutes.

“It’s so much fun that I get to play on this court again at this venue and I’m enjoying it very much,” said World No.7 El Tayeb.

“I’m very excited to be here, it’s my first win on this court in three or four years and I’m playing my good friend Amanda. Im very happy she’s back playing and I can’t wait to go on tomorrow and play against her.”

Result
[8] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) 3-0: 11-2, 11-5, 11-4 (18m)

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