10:17 am
17 Jun 2024

Leading Egyptians Sail Into Last 16 At Women's Worlds

26 Oct 2019

Raneem El Welily, Nour El Tayeb and Nouran Gohar - ranked 1, 3 and 5, respectively, in the world - all claimed victories on day two of the 2019/20 CIB PSA Women's World Squash Championship to secure a place on the iconic glass court set in front of Cairo's famous Great Pyramids of Giza, the only remaining wonder of the ancient world.

This season's women's World Championship is the first to be held in front of the stunning landmark since the men's World Championship in 2006 and El Welily is the only woman ever to win a trophy in front of the Pyramids courtesy of her Al Ahram Open victory three years ago.

The 30-year-old from Cairo will appear there again in round three after getting the better of US No.2 Olivia Blatchford Clyne at the Shooting Club 6th of October, winning 11-8, 12-10, 11-5 in 32 minutes.

"All in all, I was very prepared for Olivia today, given how well she is playing this season," said El Welily after her straight games triumph.

"She must be very disappointed to go out in the second round of this tournament. I honestly think with her level of squash this season she could have gone further. I wish her all the best in her next tournament.

"It's definitely very good for us [playing at the Pyramids] but I'm not really thinking about it that much. I'm thinking about the glass court, that's all it is for me. We've been looking at the Pyramids all week long, so by now it's okay for me."

El Welily will play the experienced Englishwoman Alison Waters for a place in the last eight after the three-time semi-finalist defeated compatriot Julianne Courtice - while 2018/19 World Championship runner-up El Tayeb defeated fellow Egyptian Rowan Elaraby in four games.

It was a meeting of two former World Junior Champions just two weeks after El Tayeb comfortably dispatched Elaraby at the US Open but the latter proved much more of a test this time around, fighting back from three match balls down to force a fourth game.

But El Tayeb held firm to win 13-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-8, and will now take on Egypt's Salma Hany in round three.

"I fell into the trap of being match ball up and thinking that the match was over, but I was very glad that I was able to come back in the fourth and win," El Tayeb said.

"It's the one tournament you want to do well at, especially in front of the Pyramids and with it being the World Championship. I'm sure there is going to be a lot of pressure on both of us, but hopefully we can enjoy it and play well."

Gohar, who comes into the back of this match after winning her third PSA Platinum title at the US Open - beating El Tayeb in the process - was in dominant form against Belgium's Nele Gilis as she powered to an 11-1, 11-5, 11-5 victory in just 28 minutes.

She will take on Nele's younger sister, world No.26 Tinne, in the next round, with the younger Gilis overcoming Malaysia's Aifa Azman 3/0.

"It was a little bit tricky to play this tournament straight after the US Open, but I am just trying to take each game and forget about the US Open and I'm really looking forward to my next match," said Gohar.

"It feels extra special to be playing on the glass court. The last time we had a tournament there, I didn't get to play on the glass because I lost first round, so to make it to the glass court in front of the Pyramids is huge and I can't wait to be there on Sunday."

There were also wins for England's Sarah-Jane Perry and Tesni Evans of Wales. Perry dispatched 2007 champion Rachael Grinham - the 42-year-old playing an unprecedented 300th career PSA tournament - while Evans defeated France's Coline Aumard. The Britons will go head-to-head in round three.

The men's CIB Egyptian Open is also now underway, with Frenchman Victor Crouin picking up the biggest win of his career to date as he twice came back from a game behind to upset world No.22 Cesar Salazar in round one of the PSA World Tour Platinum event.

Crouin - ranked No.61 in the world - was making his first appearance at a Platinum tournament, but wasn't overawed by the occasion as he twice came back from a game down to win 10-12, 11-4, 5-11, 11-1, 11-4 in a battling performance.

Salazar's level of performance varied dramatically as he looked to be struggling with a hamstring issue at times which stunted his normally impeccable retrieval abilities.

Crouin took advantage as he forced his opponent into some long, testing rallies down the forehand side to force some errors, and he never looked back after going 2/1 down as Salazar dropped off considerably.

"Although he was injured, it's my best win ever, he is 22nd [in the world], and I'm so happy to get to the next round, even in the circumstances," Crouin said.

"I had a good start to the season, I won the Marietta Open, then was runner-up against [Greg] Lobban in Cleveland, I was happy with that match, I just lacked consistency I felt."