Amanda Sobhy Upsets World No. 1 El Sherbini to Reach Black Ball Semis

Amanda Sobhy celebrates knocking out world No. 1 Nour El Sherbini.

Team USA’s Amanda Sobhy came back from 2-1 down to pull off a five-game upset over reigning world No. 1 Nour El Sherbini in the Black Ball Open quarterfinals Thursday in Cairo, Egypt.

El Sherbini, the PSA Gold draw’s top seed, entered the match up against Sobhy with a 6-3 career head-to-head lead over the American, including their last three encounters.

It was the Egyptian who made the stronger start to the match, taking an early 6-0 lead in the first game and closing it out 11-7. After Sobhy bounced back to take the second 11-7, El Sherbini swiftly earned a 2-1 advantage by taking the third 11-4.

Sobhy earned a lead midway through the fourth and held on to take the fourth 11-9 and force a decisive fifth game. In the fifth, neither player built a significant lead as both hit winner after winner. At 9-all Sobhy pulled away to clinch the match 11-9 after fifty-four minutes.

The result marks Sobhy’s first victory against a world No. 1 on the PSA World Tour since she defeated El Sherbini in August 2016.

“I am in shock a little bit and I don’t think it has sunk in,” Sobhy said. “It is all a blur but I still can’t believe I just beat the World No.1. I know the tournament isn’t over yet, it’s not even close to being over but I haven’t had a good win in so long, so this just feels really nice! First game, she outplayed me completely. I love pace and she took that away from me and I got lulled into a sleep. She played so well so I had to tell myself ‘if you want to actually compete, this is your last tournament of 2020, you’re going to give everything you can and hit the ball to the back of the court please’.

El Sherbini dispatched the younger Sobhy sister, Sabrina, during Wednesday’s round of sixteen in three games.

“If you give her anything in the middle, she is going to slot it away,” Sobhy said. “I had to tell myself to step up, be aggressive and get the ball to the back corners. I got the second, the third was like a sleepy bye for me, but it wasn’t the way I wanted to go out. Nobody beats two Sobhys in a row! That was in my mind to not let her beat my sister and me, back-to-back, so I am glad I got one for the family.”

Sobhy now advances to Friday’s semifinals where she meets in-form Egyptian world No. 9 Hania El Hammamy, who defeated Welsh world No. 8 Tesni Evans in the quarterfinals. El Hammamy, the defending Black Ball Open champion, and Sobhy have already met three times on the PSA World Tour in 2020. Sobhy won their first encounter on her Cincinnati Cup title run in February, but El Hammamy took their two most recent matches in March edition of the Black Ball Open and October’s World Tour Finals.

“I’m so pleased with that,” Sobhy said. “I think I kind of blacked out the last few points but I am just so glad that I crossed that line. To beat Nour El Sherbini, who has been the in-form player, is huge. But, I have tomorrow to think about. I will enjoy this for the next hour or so, and then it’s time to prepare for tomorrow!”

Sobhy and El Hammamy will contest the second of two semifinals set to begin at 7pm local time, 12pm noon EST. Watch the matches live on SquashTV.