English pair remain fighting for BJO glory

Day four of the 2018 Dunlop British Junior Open saw two Englishmen reach a final for the first time in 16 years, after Sam Todd and Jonah Bryant ensured they were the only English representatives left to make the finals.  

England’s Todd [1] overpowered Ahmed Marzouk (Egy) [5/8] 3-1 to set up a last-two encounter in the B15 with India’s Neel Joshi [3/4], who held his nerve to overcome Malaysia’s Muhammad Amir Amirul Azhar [2] 3-2.

Bryant [2] survived a valiant comeback from Egypt’s Kareem Badawi [3/4] where he will face another Egyptian in the form of top seed Islam Kouratam [1].

It means an English duo have reached the finals for the first time since James Willstrop and Peter Barker achieved the feat in 2002, when they both contested the B19 final.

Commenting on playing his part in history, Bryant said: “It was tough going to five after being two-nil up, but I managed to get it back. He’s [Kareem] really good, I had to keep him at the back or I would have lost. I’m really happy to be in the final – I’m buzzing to be honest!”

All in all, Sunday will see 10 Egyptian players take to the glass court in a bid for BJO glory, with representation from the North African country in all but two of the categories – the G17 and the G19 – while the G11, B11 and B17 categories comprise of all-Egyptian duels.

Sunday’s last round will also feature an exciting sister-act as Aira and Aifa Azman both triumphed – with [5/8] seed Aira ousting England’s Katie Maliff [3/4] in a five-game B15 thriller, as she triumphed over a higher-seeded player than herself for a second consecutive day.

Speaking after her victory, Azman said: “It was hard, I was 2-1 down and then levelled but in the last game I was 8-10 down but I kept trying to remain positive and managed to turn it around. It’s great to reach the final!”

Sana Ibrahim [2] awaits Azman in the final, who ousted Habeba El Dafrawy [3/4] 3-0.

There was further British heartache in the G19 as England’s Elise Lazarus [5/8] bowed out against Malaysia’s Sivasangari Subramaniam [1], who marched through to the final where she will face Japan’s Satomi Watanabe [2]. The Japanese player reached her first BJO final after dispatching England’s Lucy Turmel [3/4] in a 3-1 victory to end the British National Junior champion’s hopes.   

Meanwhile, the G17, B19, B17 and B13 finals will all be contested by the top two seeds in each category.

In the G17, Aifa Azman (Mas) [2] kept the possibility of a double family BJO celebration as she overpowered Egypt’s Jana Shiha [3/4]. She will be met in the final by high-flying Marina Stefanoni [1], who caused further British upset as she ended Georgia Adderley’s (Sco) promising run in the tournament with a straight-game victory.

It took top B19 seed Marwan Tarek (Egy) just 31 minutes as he recorded a comprehensive 3-0 victory over compatriot Mostafe El Serty [3/4] to keep his hopes of a successive B19 title alive.

Standing in his way will be France’s Victor Crouin [2], who eased past Mexico’s Leonel Cardenas [5/8] 3-0 in what will be a repeat of last year’s B19 final.

The B17 will be a battle between the impressive Omar El Torkey [1] and Mostafa Asal [2].

But it is a rather different story in the G13 category, which will see two [3/4] seeds lock horns as Fayrouz Abouelkheir toppled her Egyptian counterpart Lojayn Gohary [1], coming from a game down to claim a 3-1 victory. Malaysia’s Sehveetrrra Kuma also stunned second seed Malak Taha (Egy) in straight games to ensure the G13 is the only category where neither of the top two seeds feature.

Meanwhile, the BJO’s first ever B11 and G11 finals will consist of all-Egyptian showdowns. In the boys’ category, Ahmed Rashed [1] was made to work by Christian Capella (USA) [5/8], as the Egyptian was forced to battle from two games down to win 3-2, while Mohamed Zakaria [5/8] overcame physical battle with Malaysia’s Nickhileswar Moganasundharam [3/4].

And the G11 proceedings went according to seed as the group’s top two seeds also advanced. No.1 Egyptian seed Amina Orfi kept up her pristine 3-0 record in the tournament as she overcame America’s Whitney Wilson [3/4] in straight sets to face compatriot Janna Galal [2].