US No.1 Amanda Sobhy is into the semi-finals in Birmingham after knocking out the defending British Open champion, Egypt’s Hania El Hammamy, with a clinical straight games victory at The Rep Theatre on Friday evening.
The World No.3 had defeated the American last month at the Black Ball Squash Open, in a match that went to five, and she won this event last year, in what was the first of four Platinum crowns for her in 2022. In this contest, though, it was a completely different story, as Sobhy won in straight games in less than 40 minutes.
El Hammamy started the stronger of the two, going 8-4 up in the opening game, but a run of seven straight points saw the World No.5 come from behind to take the first. She came through to win it 11-8, and carried that momentum into the second.
Sobhy then had three game balls in the second game to double her lead. She led 10-9, 11-10 and 12-11, with ‘the Leopard’ saving the first two. The American eventually got the job done to win the game 13-11, and then flew out of the blocks in the third. She was in control throughout it, and went on to secure the victory, booking her place in the last four of the British Open.
“It sounds like I’ve won the tournament, and I shouldn’t think that way because this is just the quarter finals. But it was such a tough match and mentally I think I got my tactics spot on today. She’s the defending champion and I kind of didn’t have anything to lose.
“This incredible venue screams performance and if anyone knows me I’m a performer, regardless of whether it’s squash, music or theatre so this is like home! I feel like I’m at home here and I can play my best squash and I guessed it showed tonight with my squash.
“At first she came out all guns blazing and it took a little bit to sink in. The matches before me went on a little bit longer so there was a delay and you’re welcome Paul [Coll] and Marwan [ElShorbagy] for trying to catch you guys up! It took some time to get into it and I found my groove.
“The fact that I’m really enjoying myself out there and when I do when I’m happy and my body’s healthy, I’m playing my best squash and I’m so grateful to have my team and my coach and physio. It’s nice to have the support in addition to this phenomenal crowd.”
Sobhy will now play three-time British Open Nour El Sherbini in the semi-finals of this year’s event. The ‘Warrior Princess’ came through a tricky battle in the opening match of the night, coming from behind to defeat England’s Georgina Kennedy in a fifth game.
Both of the men’s matches on Friday evening went to five, with reigning two-time British Open champion Paul Coll having to go the distance to overcome the challenge of Egypt’s World No.6 Marwan ElShorbagy.
Coll, who won this event in both 2021 and 2022, fell behind after the opening game, but fought back well to then lead 2-1, as he hit a better line and length in the second and third games.
ElShorbagy took an injury break after the third, and was clutching his abdomen, meaning he came out in the fourth just looking to hit quick winners. It was a plan that worked for him, helped by some errors from the racket of the Kiwi, with the match going to a decider. In the end, though, Coll won the fifth comfortably, to extend his unbeaten run at the British Open to 13 matches.
“It was a mental battle out there for me tonight. I’m not sure what happened at the end of the third, but I hope he’s alright (Marwan ElShorbagy). It definitely got in my head a bit in the fourth and I made some stupid mistakes. I ended up pulling it together in the fifth but it was an up and down one tonight and it was all about the mentality and pulling through. I come back out here tomorrow night and take it to the World No.1
“It would be amazing (to make it three British Open title wins in a row). It’s one of the most prestigious titles on tour so to have my name on that trophy three times would be absolutely amazing, especially in this arena to win the first one would be pretty special. I’ll recover tonight and will give it my all tomorrow.”
Coll will now face good friend and soon-to-be World No.1 Diego Elias in the semi-finals on Saturday evening. The Peruvian Puma, who will move to the summit of the world rankings on Monday, had to come from two games down to overcome Frenchman Victor Crouin.
The World No.8 started brilliantly, and with Elias showing some nerves, he raced out into a quick two-game lead. The Peruvian showed his battling ability though, and eventually ran out a 3-2 winner to advance to the last four of this tournament for the first time in his career.
The semi-finals of the 2023 British Open will take place on Saturday, April 15 with play starting at 15:00 (GMT+1). All the action from The Rep Theatre in Birmingham will be streamed live on SQUASHTV, and on selected broadcasters around the world.
Men’s Quarter Final Results (Bottom Half): British Open
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 8-11, 11-8, 11-6, 7-11, 11-1 (70m)
 Diego Elias (PER) bt  Victor Crouin (FRA) 3-2: 4-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-9 (76m)
Men’s Semi-Final Draw: To Be Played Saturday, April 15
 Ali Farag (EGY) v  Mazen Hesham (EGY)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v  Diego Elias (PER)
Women’s Quarter Final Results (Bottom Half): British Open
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt  Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 13-11, 11-4 (36m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Georgina Kennedy (ENG) 3-2: 9-11, 11-5, 11-4, 9-11, 11-4 (51m)
Women’s Semi-Final Draw: To Be Played Saturday, April 15
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v  Joelle King (NZL)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)