Five Americans are through to the second round of the PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family following two days of first round play, July 14-15, at the University Club of Chicago.
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World No. 51 Shahjahan Khan produced one of the most dramatic first round results of the tournament, mounting a five-game comeback victory over Scotland’s Alan Clyne from 2-0 down in games.
Clyne, world No. 40, sped away with the first two games 11-4, 11-6, but the American started to settle and flipped the match momentum to win the last three games 11-6, 11-4, 11-7 after seventy-seven minutes.
“I’ve played Alan before in El Gouna and I beat him before in four, but it was tough,” Khan said. “I think I was a bit nervous in the first two games, I couldn’t find my rhythm but as the match went on, I got there.”
Khan now moves from the glass court in cathedral hall to the University Club’s Court 3 where he will face Egypt’s world No. 30 Youssef Soliman Friday at 4:15pm CT, 5:15pm ET.
Team USA’s four top-twenty-five-ranked women–Amanda Sobhy, Olivia Blatchford Clyne, Olivia Fiechter, and Sabrina Sobhy–all opened up their tournaments with decisive three-game victories over lower-ranked opponents.
“It feels amazing to be back playing in the U.S.” Fiechter said. “As much as tournaments in Egypt have been great, but I definitely prefer a two hour flight to an 11 hour one. I have friends in the crowd that have come to watch, I spend a lot of time in Chicago. It’s incredible to have so many U.S. players playing. The women in the last few years we have proven to be competing at the highest level and now we have Shahjahan who has just had a great win and we have some men coming on the scene. It’s an awesome time to be on Team USA.”
Fiechter, world No. 20, was the first to advance on Thursday courtesy of an 11-6, 11-1, 11-3 win against France’s Enora Villard. The American now faces Belgium’s world No. 17 Tinne Gilis on Court 3 Friday at 3:30pm CT, 4:30pm ET.
Amanda Sobhy, world No. 7, comfortably dispatched England’s Jasmine Hutton 11-8, 11-1, 11-3 in twenty-three minutes to set up a second round match up against Egypt’s world No. 26 Nada Abbas. Sobhy, the tournament’s five seed, will continue her campaign on the glass court Friday night at 7pm CT, 8pm ET.
After the match, Sobhy remarked on the record number of twelve Americans competing in the PSA World Championships.
“I think it’s amazing, it’s a testament to the rise of squash in the U.S.” Sobhy said. “To have 12 US players in the World Champs is phenomenal and to be back playing the biggest tournament of our season on home soil after 16 months is such a relief and to have the home crowd here cheering for us U.S. players. It means so much and I’m looking forward to keep progressing at the tournament.”
Olivia Blatchford Clyne, world No. 13, opened her tournament on Thursday with a comprehensive 11-3, 11-6, 11-5 win in twenty-one minutes against Switzerland’s Cindy Merlo. Blatchford Clyne, the tournament’s twelve seed, now faces Malaysia’s world No. 24 Low Wee Wern on Court 3 Friday at 11:30am CT, 12:30pm ET.
“Every good result I have ever had is on this court,” Blatchford Clyne said. “To say I am happy to be back here is the understatement of the century! I am definitely happy to be playing on home soil, I am ecstatic. We are just ready, like everyone in this world, we are ready for normal, a new normal. We have just built our national center down in Philly, there is a lot of squash happening in the States, and we are happy to be back playing in front of this crowd.”
Sabrina Sobhy, world No. 21, was the final woman to advance to the second round Thursday night following a twenty-minute, 11-5, 11-3, 11-2 win against Wales’ Ali Loke. Sobhy will face Egypt’s world No. 12 Rowan Elaraby on Court 3 Friday at 5:30pm CT, 6:30pm ET.
“This has always been one of my favorite venues, of course it’s so beautiful and breathtaking,” Sobhy said. “The general vibe is to just have fun and make the most of being on court because as we learned from this year, we don’t really know when the next time we will be on court with opponents might be. I like to just take it one step at a time. The first match is always the most nerve-racking and stressful so I don’t think about anything else. I don’t have a return ticket, I am here to play this match.”