World No. 12 Annie Au sent former World Champion Laura Massaro out on day three of the 2018-2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family to become the first ever player from Hong Kong to reach the quarterfinals of the sport’s first $1 million tournament.
World No. 7 Massaro—the 2013 World Champion—boasted a four-match win streak over Au heading into the fixture but, in the Great Hall of Chicago’s Union Station, was never able to get into the match as Au made the most of the cold court conditions, unsettling her opponent with her patented lob and drop game.
The world No. 11 claimed an 11-9, 11-8, 11-4 victory in thirty-three minutes and she will play world No. 4 Nour El Tayeb for a place in the semifinals. El Tayeb defeated surprise package Melissa Alves to reach the last eight.
“I’m feeling really good after today’s performance,” Au said. “Laura is a really experienced and determined player, so I needed to stay concentrated throughout the whole match. If I lost my concentration, then I knew that she would fight back and give me a hard time. It’s the first time for me and also for Hong Kong to get into the quarterfinals of the World Championships, so I’m really thankful to all the coaches and especially to my brother, Leo, who came out to support me.”
Meanwhile, defending champion Raneem El Welily and world No. 8 Nouran Gohar will go head-to-head for a third successive tournament after respective wins against English duo Alison Waters and Victoria Lust.
El Welily, the current world No. 1, overcame Waters by an 11-8, 11-6, 11-7 scoreline and she will look to build on a three-match unbeaten run against Gohar as she bids to reach the semi-finals for the seventh successive time.
“Playing Alison in a round of 16 is something hard to believe,” El Welily said, “I’m glad I managed to push myself after those crucial points and take the lead, but it was definitely a close match. I’m very happy to be playing at this great venue and looking forward to my next match.”
Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez is through to the quarterfinals of the men’s tournament after the world No. 7 claimed his first ever win over 2010 runner-up James Willstrop at the eighth attempt.
Rodriguez, the reigning British Open champion, prevailed in a grueling 105-minute encounter which saw both players display supreme athleticism and skill at times, although there were some heated words between the pair after some traffic issues on the court.
“I didn’t expect this kind of match,” Rodriguez said. “I had to fight mentally to beat him today. I am very physical, but he has so much more experience on tour. It is my first win against him and I am very proud of my performance today. The strength, the passion and the training that I put in back home before this tournament all helped me today. Getting through the first three rounds was my main aim and now I’m looking forward to the rest of the tournament.”
Rodriguez will line up against reigning champion Mohamed ElShorbagy as he aims to reach the semi-finals of this tournament for the first time. Rodriguez overcame the world No. 1 in the final of the British Open last May, but their last two meetings on the PSA Tour have gone the way of the Egyptian.
ElShorbagy dispatched world No. 29 Leo Au in straight games to book his third straight World Championship quarter-final spot.
His younger brother, Marwan, overcame Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly to reach the last eight, and he will take on world No. 3 Tarek Momen for a place in the last four. Momen twice came back from a game down to get the better of world No. 9 Mohamed Abouelghar and he will appear in the quarterfinals for the third time in his career.
“Almost every tournament we are playing now, it’s unlucky for both of us and it can only mean one thing, that we are learning more about each other and the games are getting tougher,” Momen said. “We’re anticipating everything and he is trying to study me each time and he gets better each time. We had a close 3-2 last time and he held match point today. At some point in the fourth I was 5-2 down, but he had a big gap and led most of the way. I lost last time in the last 16 and I didn’t want to exit the tournament at the same round so I kept going.”
Tickets are still available for all rounds of glass court play with prices ranging from $30 to $160 on ticketmaster.com. Live action up until the semifinals will be streamed on the PSA Facebook page and Facebook Watch. Watch all the glass court action from round one to the finals live on SQUASHTV.
For more information and tournament coverage visit psaworldchampionships.com.