American number three Olivia Fiechter claimed a stunning victory against the country’s No.1 player Amanda Sobhy in front of passionate home support at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center to reach the quarter finals of the U.S. Open.
It’s the first time in her career that Fiechter has reached the last eight of a prestigious PSA World Tour Platinum event. There was a packed house at the Specter Center as fans flocked in to watch the two Americans do battle and Sobhy – playing at a career-high No.3 ranking and boasting a 3-0 head-to-head win record over Fiechter on the PSA World Tour – was the heavy favourite coming into the clash.
However, Fiechter played some of the best squash of her career to defeat the recently-crowned Oracle NetSuite Open champion by an 11-1, 8-11, 11-3, 8-11, 11-9 scoreline and she will take on Nele Gilis for a place in the semi finals.
“I’m trying to process it one second at a time,” Fiechter said.
“Amanda and I play at least once a week, every week, especially since she moved to Philly. I knew I was getting closer in practice matches, and I’ve been feeling really good on court this week. I was feeling optimistic and thought that if I played my best squash I had a shot, but I wasn’t foreseeing it would be that close.
“She’s one of my closest friends on tour, she’s been a mentor to me since I’ve gone pro, she’s been like a big sister to me and has given me so much advice. She’s at a career-high ranking of World No.3 right now and she’s been playing well. To get a win over a top 10 player is another level you have to go to, so I’m over the moon.”
France’s Melissa Alves will be another Platinum quarter final debutant after he she got the better of England’s Georgina Kennedy with an 11-8, 11-2, 11-6 victory in 27 minutes. The World No.27 will now take on World No.1 Nour El Sherbini in the last eight, with El Sherbini beating fellow Egyptian Nadine Shahin.
“She’s the best player in the world and there’s no pressure for me against her,” Alves said.
“I’m excited for a big fight again. I’m ready to play on the big stage now and am just excited. If I start strong and keep the rally and the momentum, anything can happen. Why not tomorrow?”
Reigning champion Nouran Gohar continued her title defence with a win against Alison Waters, and she will take on No.5 seed Sarah-Jane Perry next after she beat Welsh player Emily Whitlock in her second five-game battle of the event. New Zealand’s Joelle King and Egypt’s Hania El Hammamy were the other women’s winners in round three.
In the men’s event, former World No.1 James Willstrop has made history as the oldest man ever to reach a major PSA quarter-final following the 38-year-old’s stunning 3-2 victory over World No.15 Mohamed Abouelghar.
Willstrop, currently ranked at No.31 in the world, claimed a major upset against World No.5 Marwan ElShorbagy in the previous round and his ball control was impeccable once again as he set up a last eight clash with former World Champion Tarek Momen.
“It’s just great, I love playing and I try and keep myself in shape,” Willstrop said.
“I haven’t played these level of matches in three days for a long time. I can’t expect too much of myself. I just love it, this is a great tournament, I don’t know how longer I’ll be able to do this sort of stuff, so I’ll just get stuck in.”
Meanwhile, World No.3 Paul Coll and World No.10 Mostafa Asal will renew their rivalry after respective wins over Karim El Hammamy and Baptiste Masotti.
Asal has won both of their previous matches on the PSA World Tour and received both praise and criticism on social media for his exuberant celebrations, which saw him tear off his shirt both times in jubilant scenes.
“Paul is a very nice person and I have all the respect for him and what he’s achieved in the last couple of years,” Asal said.
“As Mohamed ElShorbagy and Ali Farag have said, he’s a really nice guy outside of the court and inside the court. I’m sorry about my celebrations, but I was in front of my country and in front of my home and I was getting excited every time. It’s always been a pleasure to play with him because I think he’s a legend of his country and the rest of the world.”
Defending champion Ali Farag got the better of compatriot Mazen Hesham in his third round fixture and he will take on Welshman Joel Makin, who defeated France’s Sebastien Bonmalais. Three-time U.S. Open champion Mohamed ElShorbagy will take on Peru’s Diego Elias in the other men’s quarter final after they completed wins over Youssef Soliman and Raphael Kandra, respectively.
Third Round Results
Men’s:  Ali Farag (EGY) bt Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-1: 11-5, 11-3, 10-12, 11-7 (65m); Joel Makin (WAL) bt Sebastien Bonmalais (FRA) 3-1: 11-6, 6-11, 11-5, 11-9 (61m); James Willstrop (ENG) bt Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 3-2: 11-9, 7-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-3 (63m);  Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Patrick Rooney (ENG) 3-1: 8-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-7 (43m);  Paul Coll (NZL) bt Karim El Hammamy (EGY) 3-0: 11-2, 11-3, 11-3 (35m);  Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 3-2: 10-12, 11-7, 5-11, 11-7, 11-3 (77m);  Diego Elias (PER) bt Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-1: 11-2, 11-4, 10-12, 12-10 (48m);  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Youssef Soliman (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 12-10, 9-11, 11-6 (61m)
Women’s:  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Nadine Shahin (EGY) 3-0: 11-2, 11-6, 11-7 (21m); Melissa Alves (FRA) bt Georgina Kennedy (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-2, 11-6 (27m);  Joelle King (NZL) bt Joshna Chinappa (IND) 3-0: 11-3, 11-4, 11-6 (27m);  Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Nada Abbas (EGY) 3-1: 9-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-4 (53m); Olivia Fiechter (USA) bt  Amanda Sobhy (USA) 3-2: 11-1, 8-11, 11-3, 8-11, 11-9 (43m); Nele Gilis (BEL) bt Hollie Naughton (CAN) 3-1: 11-7, 17-19, 12-10, 11-3 (56m);  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Emily Whitlock (WAL) 3-2: 11-4, 1-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-4 (45m);  Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Alison Waters (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 11-5 (33m)