Team USA’s Olivia Blatchford and Amanda Sobhy will face off in the second round of the 2017 Guggenheim Partners & Equitrust Windy City Open Sunday following two three-game, first-round wins Friday at the University Club of Chicago.
World No. 26 Blatchford opened proceedings Friday in the first match of the day as the tournament’s wild card against India’s world No. 14 Joshna Chinappa in just their second career PSA world tour match up.
The twenty-three-year-old from Wilton, Connecticut, staved off two game balls in the first game to earn a 1-0 lead 13-11 and continued her momentum to win in three games and thirty-one minutes.
“That’s a massive win for me – especially as I came into this tournament as the wildcard,” Blatchford said. “It’s a huge confident boost. She’s a top fifteen player, so to come in and win in three is a fantastic feeling and to be in the second round, and have another chance to play on the glass court at this stage, can only bode well for me in the future.”
The victory marks Blathford’s first career World Series second round appearance.
“The first game was huge,” Blatchford said. “I think had I lost that one then the match would have been a completely different story. I don’t think I played well in the first game but I managed to stick in there and get through it and that allowed me to go into the second very positive.
“I’ve lacked the ability previously to take a bird’s eye view and see what going on during the game,” Blatchford said on her mentality. “Even when I’m being coached it can be more emotional at times than really being about looking at what I’m trying to achieve and sort it out. Today I felt like I had the right mentally and that’s definitely a growth and adjustment thing for me. I have a great chance now to see how far I can go. It’s all about applying positive pressure on myself and just giving it the best I can.”
Blatchford will face a familiar foe in the form of U.S. teammate and world No. 6 Sobhy, who put in an emphatic three-game performance to defeat Belgium’s Nele Gilis 11-5, 11-3, 11-1 in twenty minutes.
Sunday’s match will be the fellow Elite Athlete Program players’ first PSA Tour match up since the 2011 Greenwich Open. The two highest-ranked U.S. players have faced off in the past two U.S. national finals with Sobhy boasting an undefeated 9-0 professional record against Blatchford including nationals.
Watch the match live Sunday on SquashTV at 2pm local time, 3pm ET.
On the men’s side, Team USA’s wild card Chris Hanson acquitted himself well against world No. 10 Simon Rösner in a four-game loss. The Dartmouth graduate put in an impressive display that saw him win the first game 13-11, but the veteran German recovered to win in four games and fifty-four minutes.
“I had really good start and then I lost my line a little bit and he played very well,” Rösner said.
“He came back and hit some great winners. I tried to make sure I got my quality back in the second. I had to make sure I wasn’t just hitting hard and that was the turning point so I’m happy to go through because he’s the home boy, which is never easy.”
Hanson said: “For the most part I was happy with how I played and I feel like I’ve come on a bit from last year.”