World No. 50 Timothy Brownell has become the first man from the United States to reach the third round of the U.S. Open Squash Championships presented by Truist in thirty-seven years after he overcame teammate Shahjahan Khan Sunday afternoon, October 8, at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia.
The U.S. Open is celebrating its fiftieth staging and has only been held as a softball tournament since 1985. The following year saw two home players make the quarterfinals– since when no man from the U.S. has been able to make it beyond the second round until Sunday when Brownell completed a 12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 18-16 marathon victory against Khan after eighty-four minutes. The two teammates put on a show for the gallery packed with aspiring U.S. juniors competing in the Arlen Specter JCT over the weekend and displayed the depth of current and future U.S. talent.
“He did not give up, I really thought I could pull away but he changed the game plan and really turned the jets on,” Brownell said. I really couldn’t put the ball away at the end, he was willing to leave it all out there. He was tidy, wasn’t making any errors and I’m just really happy to go through.”
Brownell will face three-time U.S. Open champion Mohamed ElShorbagy Monday evening after world No. 3 overcame compatriot Mohamed ElSherbini in a close four-game encounter.
“I’m over the moon,” Brownell said. “I was just trying to have a smile on my face. It’s really easy to tighten up, feel the moment and see the finish line, but I looked at my mum and she was like: how cool is this? I loosened up and hit a winner that I definitely wouldn’t have hit if I was feeling a bit tense. I’ve got a lot of friends and family here and it’s really cool for them to see that. Mohamed is nothing but professional, he’s come up to me behind the scenes a few times and given me some tips here and there when he had no reason to. I’ve got nothing but respect for him, I’ve watched him since I was a little kid so it’s a dream to play him on a glass court in the U.S. Open.”
Brownell’s Pan Am Games teammates Amanda Sobhy, the world No. 5 and Olivia Fiechter, the world No. 9, will join him the third round after opening their U.S. Open campaigns with composed 3-0 victories.
Fiechter, a Philadelphia native, dispatched England’s Jasmine Hutton 11-1, 11-3, 11-5 in twenty-five minutes. The Germantown Friends and Princeton graduate full face Egypt’s world No. 11 in the third round Tuesday evening.
Sobhy, the tournament’s five seed, defeated U.S. teammate and world No. 13 Olivia Blatchford Clyne 11-4, 11-9, 11-3 in thirty-one minutes.
“We’ve been playing each other since we were eleven so we know our games inside out and I want to go in there and preparing for the next match and focusing on the feel of the court and finding my targets,” Sobhy said. “I’m happy to get the win today. I’ve built up a good friend group here and my family is here. Apart from Nationals they get to see me live so even though I live in Florida I’m so pumped to see them and they’re all super stoked to see me play.”
Sobhy will feature again on Monday evening against Egypt’s world No. 42 Zeina Mickawy.
Elsewhere in the draws, the evergreen Colombian veteran Miguel Angel Rodriguez upset seven seed Victor Cruoin in the only seeded upset of the second round.