Three top seeds fell in an upset-heavy semi-finals day at the 2020 Dunlop British Junior Open in Birmingham today.

Malaysia’s [3/4] Harleein Tan struck first when she overpowered Egyptian favourite Jana Mohamed 3-0 in the GU11’s, then BU13’s top seed Mohamed Zakaria (Egypt) was taken out 3-0 in a whirlwind 21 minutes by compatriot [9/16] Ahmed Rashed.

And in the day’s second-longest encounter, GU17’s [1] Aira Azman met her match in [3/4] Nour Khaled Aboulmakarim who won 3-1 (12-10, 8-11, 11-8, 16-14) in 47 minutes, a result carrying extra special significance for the Egyptian after Azman’s own U15 upset in 2018.

“I lost to Aira in the quarters when I was top seed, so it was nice to get a bit of revenge,” said Aboulmakarim.

“When I was 7-10 down in the fourth, I was so tired but I kept saying to myself ‘you can make it, it’s only the fourth game.’”

The upset put fire in the belly of Azman’s older sister [2] Aifa who kept her nerve to defeat GU19’s [3/4] Farida Mohamed (Egypt) 3-1 in a physical and compelling tussle as she moved one step closer to a fourth BJO title.

She will play Egyptian top seed Jana Shiha, who looked ominous in a brief encounter with Team USA’s [3/4] Marina Stefanoni and will be itching for her maiden BJO crown.

“I’ve played in the British Junior Open five or six times and I’ve never won a title and this is my last chance so hopefully I can win tomorrow,” said the World No. 84.

BU19 Egyptian top seed Moustafa El Sirty outhit India’s [3/4] Veer Chotrani 3-1 to reach his first BJO final before he was joined by three-time champion [2] Yahya Elnawasany, the winner of an all-Egyptian semi against [5/8] Karim El Barbary 3-1.

Malaysian boys U17’s [5/8] Ishant Shah put on a patient display to outmanoeuvre and ultimately frustrate his talented Egyptian opponent [5/8] Ahmed Aly 3-1 in 55 minutes to set up a clash with home favourite [1] Sam Todd, who is seeking a third BJO title.

GU17 second seed Sana Ibrahim expended little energy in pencilling in Monday’s all-Egypt final when English [3/4] opponent Katie Maliff retired in the second due to injury.

Boys under 15 second seed Muhammad Humza Khan was rewarded for his persistence at this event as he set up a final with England’s [5/8] Yusuf Sheikh, who followed yesterday’s upset with a straight-games defeat of Khan’s fellow Pakistani Muhammad Ammad.

“I got to the semis two years ago and the quarters last year so it feels great to finally reach a final,” said Khan.

GU15 second seed Fayrouz Abouelkheir looked the pick of the bunch by needing just 18 minutes to dispatch compatriot [9/16] Habiba Hani Diab (Egypt) after [5/8] Malak Taha showed little sign of fatigue after yesterday’s surprise win against the favourite as she sent Team USA’s Caroline Fouls home.

BU13 second seed Youssef Salem won 3-0 when fellow Egyptian [3/4] Eyad Hossam retired in the third while girls under 13s [3/4] Anahat Singh (India) caused another Sunday shock with a 3-2 win over Egypt’s [2] Janna Galal in 39 hard-fought minutes to move into Monday’s final with [1] Amina Orfi.

GU11 [2] Mariam Eissa of England warmed up for Monday’s final against Tan with another straight-games victory while BU11 [3/4] Seif Belal El Shal set up another all-Egypt final against [2] Yassin Kouritam.

Eissa, 10 said: “I’m very happy to reach the final beating really tough players from my first match all the way to the final. I have been working very hard and winning my fist BJO title would be great!”


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