Nour El Tayeb staged a spectacular comeback at the Squash On Fire Open to reach her first semi final since returning to the PSA World Tour.
El Tayeb, playing in only her second tournament since the 2020 Egyptian Open after giving birth last summer, found herself in hot water after going two games down against an energised Sivasangari Subramaniam.
The Egyptian, though, while still not back to her devastating best, was able to force her way back into the match with a hard-fought 11-6 win in the third game.
After El Tayeb raced into a 6-1 lead in the fourth game, Subramaniam threw everything at her opponent in an attempt to finish the match before a fifth.
This charge from the Malaysian initially rattled the No.3 seed, and with the scores level at 9-9 the game, and match, felt on a knife edge. Eventually, though, it was El Tayeb who held her nerve and the former World No.3 levelled the tie with an 11-9 win, which she followed up with a swift 11-4 fifth-game victory against an exhausted Subramaniam to complete the comeback.
Speaking after the match, El Tayeb, who will face World No.1 Nour El Sherbini in the semi final, said: “I’m happy to come back, and literally in the match! I’m taking it one point at a time and trying to do my best every point.
“This is my mindset since I’ve come back on tour, and I think it helped me a lot today that at 2-0 down I didn’t think I was out of the tournament.
“I can’t say I’m back to form, I can see a lot of areas where I’m not back to where I was, but I think I’m improving at a very nice pace, and I’m enjoying the improvements.
“I didn’t think, coming into this tournament, that I was going to win two matches, to be honest. But to be in the semis of a Bronze event, I’m very proud of myself.”
El Tayeb’s wasn’t the only comeback story today in Washington DC, with the USA’s Sabrina Sobhy reaching her first PSA Bronze semi final courtesy of a remarkable performance against Malaysia’s Rachel Arnold.
Despite the 3-0 scoreline, this match was anything but a simple affair for the World No.24.
Although she trailed in all three games, Sobhy was able to repeatedly escape danger and get back into the match. Having already recovered from 5-1 down to claim the first game, Sobhy then stunned Arnold when she saved three game balls to snatch the second game 12-10.
Once again Sobhy found herself behind as the match entered a third game, and once again she fought back. Even after Arnold had opened up another 5-1 lead, Sobhy was able to reel her in, going on a scoring blitz that has become her trademark here in the US capital to secure the match with an 11-9 win.
Sobhy will face New Zealand’s No.2 seed Joelle King in the semi final, after the World No.6 beat England’s Lucy Turmel in straight games.
Speaking after her match, Sobhy said: “I'm still processing this match to be honest. I really felt like I was scrambling on the edge a little bit throughout the entire match. So just having that finish, I’m a little bit taken aback, in awe, very surprised, happy and excited!
“It's a lot of emotions at once and it's kind of hard to digest right now. But I'm thrilled. It's a huge accomplishment and achievement so far. I'm just really looking forward to keeping going in DC.”
Elsewhere, former World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy continued his resurgence with a powerhouse performance against Egyptian compatriot Omar Mosaad.
ElShorbagy had looked at times vulnerable in his second-round tie against Patrick Rooney, but today produced the sort of commanding performance for which he is famed.
ElShorbagy took the first game 11-5 before coming from 9-5 down in the second to win 11-9. The increasingly confident-looking top seed carried this momentum through to the third, drawing great applause from the crowd with a powerful strike to end the game 11-7 and the match 3-0.
“Omar is someone I looked up all the way through my junior career,” ElShorbagy said afterwards.
He added: “If you give him any opening he's going to take it and that’s what happened in the second game when I lost focus for a few seconds and found myself five down. We haven't played in so many years, so it's great to be back on court one more time with him.
“I really want to win here. I'm playing every single point to try and win. Any of the top guys have to always find ways to win even when they're not at their best and I'm definitely feeling much sharper than yesterday.”
In the day’s other matches, Egypt’s No.4 seed Youssef Soliman reached his maiden Bronze semi final after a straight-game victory over Mexico’s No.8 seed Cesar Salazar, Joel Makin continued his impressive form with a 3-1 victory over James Willstrop, El Sherbini breezed past No.5 seed Nele Gilis 3-0, and Iker Pajares Bernabeu beat Greg Lobban 3-1.
You can also keep up to date with all the live scores from the tournament here.
For more information on the tournament, as well as the option of buying tickets, visit the Squash On Fire site.
Results – Men’s Quarter Final: Squash On Fire Open
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-9, 11-7 (45m)
 Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) bt Greg Lobban (SCO) 3-1: 11-8, 11-6, 9-11, 11-9 (74m)
 Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt  Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-3 (31m)
 Joel Makin (WAL) bt  James Willstrop (ENG) 3-1: 11-8, 14-12, 9-11, 11-2 (64m)
Results – Women’s Quarter Final: Squash On Fire Open
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-0: 11-5, 11-1, 11-6 (25m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) 3-2: 9-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-4 (46m)
Sabrina Sobhy (USA) bt Rachel Arnold (MAS) 3-0: 11-9, 12-10, 11-9 (30m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt Lucy Turmel (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-8 (38m)
Draw – Men’s Semi Final: To Be Played February 19th
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP)
 Youssef Soliman (EGY) v  Joel Makin (WAL)
Draw – Women’s Semi Final: To Be Played February 19th
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
Sabrina Sobhy (USA) v  Joelle King (NZL)