Squash: Nour El Tayeb upsets top seed to reach final of Singapore Open

Nour El Tayeb (left) upset Amanda Sobhy to reach the final of the Marigold Singapore Squash Open. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE – She declared it her best performance of the week but, ultimately, that was not enough to get top seed Amanda Sobhy into the final of the Marigold Singapore Squash Open.

The world No. 4 lost 3-1 (9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5) to in-form world No. 6 Nour El Tayeb at the OCBC Arena on Saturday.

Sobhy, 29, was disappointed to have lost but also recognised that she was dealing with some tightness in her back.

“My performance throughout the week got better,” said the American. “I probably think this was the best I played all week.

“At the end of the day, my body just kind of let me down a little bit, which is unfortunate.

“It’s just kind of tight... my back just seized up as the week went on. It happens and what can you do, right?”

Sobhy was on the attack from the start, capitalising on El Tayeb’s defensive play to take the first game.

But the Egyptian switched to a more aggressive style, which made it difficult for Sobhy to predict her play. She also fired herself up by shouting in celebration.

El Tayeb realised that Sobhy was reading her game well at the start, so she had to “go back to some basic squash, make (the ball) longer so she could get tired”.

Sobhy had endured a tough 65-minute quarter-final against Belgian Nele Gilis on Friday.

Tayeb added: “Her match yesterday was still in her legs so, when I saw that, I kept pushing even though I was very tired... (and) that gave me a lot of belief.

“I wasn’t having a lot of fire inside me. I had to find (it) from deep inside because I was tired a lot of the match and, when you’re tired, you just have to forget about it.

“In order to forget about it, you have to have some fire and belief and determination and grit.

“I’m very lucky and grateful that I had it today and was able to push through. (Being in the final) means a lot to me.”

However, Sobhy quickly forgot her loss as she then turned coach for her 25-year-old sister Sabrina, who lost 3-2 (12-10, 7-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-5) to second seed Joelle King of New Zealand.

Sabrina, 25, said having her sister by her side meant a lot. She added: “Having that extra person in your corner, it pushes you a little bit more, especially when you might not be up for it entirely. That extra support is a lot and it kind of makes the difference between winning and losing.”

King, 34, put her victory down to her experience.

She said: “I’m very pleased to be in the final tomorrow... Half the battle is getting there and there’s just another step up, so I need to recover well today and be ready for tomorrow.”

In the men’s singles, former world No. 1 Mohamed El Shorbagy beat Welsh world No. 11 Joel Makin 3-1 (11-8, 10-12, 11-2, 11-6) to set up a showdown against Peruvian Diego Elias.

World No. 5 Elias reached the final after his opponent, second seed Mostafa Asal, injured his right arm at the end of the first game and retired five points later.

Elias had been leading 11-8, 5-0.

Elias is preparing for an exciting match, knowing he and Shorbagy are level at 5-5 in their head-to-head encounters.

He said: “Mohamed is such a legend of the sport. He’s already achieved so much in his career.

“I think we are both pretty fresh for the final, so I hope we can give the crowd a good match. It’s going to be a tough one, so I need to be at 100 per cent.”

The US$220,000 (S$302,000) Singapore Open is the first Professional Squash Association World Tour Gold event to be held here.

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