Day FOUR – Round Three Part Two

The British Open continued at Birmingham’s Rep theatre today, with eight Round Three matches from the bottom half of the draws – there were no seeding upsets today as the quarter-final lineups were finalised.

British Open 2023 : Day FOUR, Round THREE (bottom)

[5] Amanda Sobhy (Usa) 3-0 [9/16] Salma Hany (Egy)   11-5, 11-5, 11-4 (27m)
[5] Marwan ElShorbagy (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Youssef Soliman (Egy)   11-8, 11-6, 11-8 (43m)
[8] Gina Kennedy (Eng) 3-2 [9/16] Tinne Gilis (Ned)   15-13, 11-9, 3-11, 5-11, 11-6 (71m)
[3] Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-0 [9/16] Saurav Ghosal (Ind)   11-6, 11-9, 11-1 (51m)

[3] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 3-0 Emily Whitlock (Wal)  11-6, 11-4, 11-4 (30m)
[1] Diego Elias (Per) 3-0 Nathan Lake (Eng)   11-8, 11-8, 11-7 (37m)
[2] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-1 [9/16] Sabrina Sobhy (Usa)   9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-2 (44m)
[8] Victor Crouin (Fra) 3-1 [9/16] Nicolas Mueller (Sui)   5-11, 11-9, 11-6, 22-20 (71m)


Victor, eventually….

[8] Victor Crouin (Fra) v [9/16] Nicolas Mueller (Sui) 5-11, 11-9, 11-6, 22-20 (71m)

TEighth seed Victor Crouin sealed his place in the quarter-finals after an epic battle with Nicolas Mueller.

The French No.1 came out on top 3-1, coming from one game down to beat Switzerland’s top player but he had to do it the hard with an entertaining fourth game.

Crouin won the second and third games 11-9 and 11-6 and had a staggering nine match balls and was unable to convert any of them. Mueller had two game ball opportunities which were unsuccessful before Crouin eventually converted match ball at the tenth attempt to round off a 71-minute battle.

“The emotions built up and it was difficult to stick to a game plan with match balls, but I’m happy I won!” Crouin said.

“Unfortunately I’m thinking two matches ahead of myself, thinking about the quarter-final opportunity. It’s really tough out there and really tough from a mental game point of view.

“We all train hard so when we step on court it’s more of a mental game, and today I’m happy I closed it at the end.

“I’m not looking forward to talking to my dad/coach because he’s not going to be happy with this! I’m not happy with this but I’ll remember the win and hopefully I’ll learn from this.”

Sabrina is way better than her ranking – Sherbini

[2] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) v [9/16] Sabrina Sobhy (Usa) 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-2 (44m)

Three-time British Open champion Nour El Sherbini came from one game down to advance to the quarter-finals, seeing off Sabrina Sobhy 3-1.

World No.2 El Sherbini made a slow start to the opening game, which was capitalised on by Sobhy as she drew first blood. However, the Egyptian provided the perfect response to going a game down by levelling the match with a triumph in the second, before turning it up a notch by overturning the deficit and sewing up the match with a comprehensive 11-2 win in the fourth.

“Sabrina is an amazing player. She is way better than her ranking and she’s playing very good this season and is very tough to play against,” El Sherbini said.

“It’s my first time playing on the glass court here and it was very tough at the beginning and I’m glad that I came back from 1-0 down. It maybe wasn’t the best squash I’ve played, but I dug in and got the second game.

“I remember when I was 16 playing in the final in London at the 02 Arena – I think it was my first or second British Open and this is one of the very good wins which started my career off so I definitely have a lot of good memories and winning three British Open titles is huge for me. I hope I can do it this week.”

World number one on song

[1] Diego Elias (Per) 3-0 Nathan Lake (Eng)  11-8, 11-8, 11-7 (37m)

World No.1 elect Diego Elias marked his momentous milestone by booking his place in the quarter-finals of the British Open.

Elias, who will become World No.1 on Monday, defeated Nathan Lake 3-0, with the Englishman providing a stern test for the Peruvian Puma.

Lake, who hadn’t beaten Elias previously, took the game to the top seed but Elias showed why he will be at the summit of the World Rankings next week as his quality came to the fore to progress to the last eight.

Post-match Elias said: “We’ve played a few times and it’s always tough. He (Nathan Lake) controls the ball well and he can get any player in trouble so I had to be ready for this and I’m glad I could close it in three.

“Becoming World #1 is a dream come true, but right now I’m playing the British Open and there’s no time to think about that. I’m here to try and win the title so I’ll think about that on Monday.

“I ended last year playing very well – I got to two finals so I knew I was playing well but I didn’t win the titles.

“But at the start of this year I did a lot of work and I think it paid off at ToC and the next two tournaments. I didn’t look great in the first two tournaments in England but I’m ready now and I hope I can win this one.”

A clinical performance from the Title Holder

[3] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 3-0 Emily Whitlock (Wal)  11-6, 11-4, 11-4 (30m)

Defending champion Hania El Hammamy stepped up her title defence by dispatching Emily Whitlock in straight games.

It was the third time the duo had met on the PSA World Tour, and El Hammamy extended her unbeaten run to three matches against Whitlock. The reigning champion was relentless in her approach, sealing the match in just 30 minutes against the Welshwoman with 11-6, 11-4, 11-4 victories.

“I’m coming here this week with a job to be done. I’m focusing match by match, game by game. I’m not focusing on the title, I’m just focusing on improving my performance each round and hopefully with good performances I’ll be able to get it,” El Hammamy said afterwards.

“It was incredible for me, it was my biggest win to date. It’s such a prestigious tournament and I had a great record in the British Junior Open and I’m hoping I can carry that on in the senior one.

“Finding my length on the glass court is definitely important. It’s my first round on it and each round the length improves and hopefully with the next round I can get some better length.”

Defending Champ Coll produces faultless performance

[3] Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-0 [9/16] Saurav Ghosal (Ind) 11-6, 11-9, 11-1 (51m)

World No.4 Paul Coll continued the defence of his British Open crown with a faultless performance to overcome Indian No.1 Saurav Ghosal in straight games. Coll, who won this title in both 2021 and 2022 in Hull, was featuring for the first time at The Rep this week, but he looked at ease with the glass court on stage, and ran out an easy winner.

The second game was tougher for the Kiwi, as Ghosal started to play some of his trademark squash. However, a tight 11-9 win for Coll killed the match, and he dropped just a single point in the third. The former World No.1 will now take on Marwan ElShorbagy in Friday’s quarter finals.

Saurav (on twitter) :  Tough loss against Paul today. Had a few chances but couldn’t capitalise. We live and learn.

“It was a perfect match for me. I have been excited for months now to come here, hearing so much about this arena and this set-up. A bit of nervous energy as you come out,” Coll admitted.

“Saurav is a classy player, if you let him control the game, it can become very tough. I just wanted to play my game, control as much as possible and yeah, it was a good outing. I love this court, it suits my game well, so I am very happy with that!

“I think I am the only person that was gutted it [the British Open] was leaving Hull. Some great memories there the last two years, but Birmingham is like a second home here. It is really nice to play here, I feel at home here in Birmingham. I had a great week, been here for two weeks. I feel good, feeling comfortable, lots of energy so I am excited to keep this going!”

Kennedy Survives Thriller With Gilis

[8] Gina Kennedy (Eng) 3-2 [9/16] Tinne Gilis (Ned)  15-13, 11-9, 3-11, 5-11, 11-6 (71m)

England’s Georgina Kennedy delighted the home crowd to take a five-game thriller against Belgium’s Tinne Gilis, after staving off a comeback from the World No.12.

The opening game went to a tie-break, with both women saving game balls in the process. Kennedy saved three, including one to push the game into a tie-break, and she eventually came through it 15-13. She then doubled her lead, with the Belgian seemingly struggling with a problem.

However, Gilis fought back into it, and with some quick rallies, she got the third game back. Kennedy asked for a new ball, but that only allowed the Belgian to keep picking up more balls, and keeping more rallies alive. That saw Gilis take the fourth as well to send the match into a decider.

The game break was good for Kennedy, as she came out sharply in the fifth and deciding game. A 6-2 lead came quickly, and from there, the Englishwoman never looked like relinquishing the advantage. She took the victory, to move through to the last eight, in the same city where she won Gold at the Commonwealths in 2022.

“Tinne is such a great competitor and a really great friend. It speaks volumes about her that after losing a brutal battle in the last 16 of the British, and she is still the most humble and courteous person, so I want to say congrats to her. I live to fight another day but I am very lucky to win that one,” Kennedy said.

“It was really tough. I was lucky to win that first game, it was a bit scrappy and then I played well in the second game, was moving it around but Tinne did well to slow the pace down, picked everything up. I said to my coach after the fourth that I didn’t know how to win a rally.

“She made it so difficult for me, so I just tried to use my physicality, up the tempo and make it as difficult for her as possible. Birmingham is clearly a good place for me! I have a lot of friends and family who came out for me today!

“Obviously, I had the best result of my career in winning Gold at the Commonwealth Games in the summer, and just coming back to Birmingham for the first time, I got goosebumps thinking about it. I am a Londoner at heart but Birmingham is a good place for me!”

Marwan downs Soliman again in all-Egyptian matchup

[5] Marwan ElShorbagy (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Youssef Soliman (Egy)  11-8, 11-6, 11-8 (43m)

For the fifth time in the last six months, Marwan ElShorbagy has defeated compatriot Youssef Soliman, this time to make the quarter finals.

The pair had met at the U.S.Open, Grasshopper Cup, Hong Kong Football Club Open and the Pittsburgh Open, with the World No.6 having won all four matches. This one also went the same way, with ElShorbagy in control throughout the contest.

He consistently was able to stay in front of Soliman on court, and on the scoreboard. The pressure would tell for the lower-ranked Egyptian in all three games, as he was unable to keep ElShorbagy at bay, with ‘the Jackal’ winning in three.

“I am just really happy to win in three games today. Youssef has been having a great season, he just reached the final of a Gold level event, two weeks ago. I know how confident he is. This was our fifth meeting this season!” ElShorbagy said.

“We used to train together a lot in Bristol as well, so we know each other’s games very well. As I said, I am happy to win in three. I had to stay focussed. It was a professional performance.

“I will speak to Rodney [Martin, his coach] about it later on. For now, I will let him focus on his big match against Peter Marshall tonight at Edgbaston! It is good that I have a day off tomorrow, and then I don’t play until 8pm on Friday. I have time to recover, and get ready for the quarter finals!”

Soby storms into Quarters

[5] Amanda sobhy (Usa) 3-0 [9/16] Salma Hany (Egy)   11-5, 11-5, 11-4 (27m)

US No.1 Amanda Sobhy put on a clinic in her third round performance, as she got the better of Egypt’s Salma Hany in straight games to reach the last eight.

The American had won all ten matches against Hany previously, and that run continued with an imperious display in Birmingham. She dropped just 14 points in a match lasting less than half an hour.

Sobhy was on point from the off, with her attacking squash being too much for the Egyptian to handle. The former World No.3 won out 11-5, 11-5, 11-4 to book her quarter final spot.

“It definitely felt a lot better than my first match. It is hard not to appreciate the venue, the crowd, this court, this atmosphere, so I wanted to have my play reflect how I feel out there, which is pure enjoyment. I guessed it showed today, which I am happy about,” Sobhy said.

“You have to read every match the same. Each round is really tough, and when one match finishes, you focus on the next, stay present and really focus on one match at a time. Rinse and repeat at this point! I will enjoy my day off, talk with my team and get ready for the quarter finals.

“There is no homework, we will call it film review! A lot of resting, working on little things and doing what I need to do to feel good going into my next match. There is always something, I am my harshest critic so I can always find something to improve. It was pretty good, I am happy with that!”

A packed crowd at Birmingham Rep watches RD3 of the British Open.