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15 Jul 2024

El Sherbini Makes Women's Worlds Last 16 as Squash Returns to Pyramids

27 Oct 2019

Playing in her first Tour event this season, defending champion Nour El Sherbini recovered from a slow start against Canada's Hollie Naughton to book her place in the third round of the 2019/20 CIB PSA Women's World Squash Championship as the highest-profile tournament in the sport returned to the iconic Great Pyramids of Giza for the first time since the men's World Championship in 2006.

El Sherbini reached the final of the last tournament to be held at the Pyramids - the Al Ahram Open in 2016 - and made it back-to-back wins since returning from a knee injury, following up an opening day win over Rachael Chadwick, with a 13-11, 11-7, 11-4 victory in 26 minutes.

"It was very important for me to win the first game, that's what made the difference for the whole match," said the 23-year-old from Alexandria.

"I think I was a bit nervous in the first game - it's the first match on the glass court and it's in front of the Pyramids, so it's not that easy. I'm still trying to get in my mind that I'm back on tour playing, it's the first time playing her so I didn't really know what to expect.

"I've been dreaming of playing at this venue since I was seven years old and when I first had the injury I thought I wouldn't have surgery before this tournament, so I did a lot to come and play here. I'm looking forward to this week."

El Sherbini will play India's Joshna Chinappa in the last 16, with Chinappa progressing at the expense of Hong Kong's Ho Tze-Lok, who retired with a foot injury after just 12 minutes.

There were also wins for France's world No.4 Camille Serme and New Zealand's Joelle King at the Pyramids as they beat Millie Tomlinson and Zeina Mickawy, respectively. Serme will line up against world No.16 Yathreb Adel in the next round, while King will clash with Hong Kong's Annie Au.

Four matches also took place at the Shooting Club 6th of October, with Malaysia's Sivasangari Subramaniam continuing her superb run, following up her opening round upset of No.8 seed Amanda Sobhy with victory over world No.29 Milou van der Heijden to become the only unseeded player to reach the third round.

28-year-old van der Heijden got engaged in front of the Pyramids earlier on in the day, and tested Subramaniam, drawing level after going a game down. But the world No.48 narrowly edged the final two games to earn her spot on the glass court in front of the Pyramids, where World Junior Champion Hania El Hammamy will lie in wait.

"I feel confident after beating Amanda [Sobhy] in the first round, obviously Milou is a good player and she has been playing well, so I had to take every game and every point one at a time," Subramaniam said.

"I tried not to think about getting that far and playing in front of the Pyramids, I'm really looking forward to it. I'm playing Hania and she is my junior rival as well, we have played a few times at junior level and now at PSA. Hopefully we can both play good squash and the better player wins, but I'm really excited."

In the men's CIB Egyptian Open, five of the top eight seeds crashed out. Welshman Joel Makin claimed a huge upset he ousted Egypt's No.2 seed Tarek Momen to get his first win over the world No.3 at the third attempt.

The Welshman has tested Momen in their previous two encounters, taking a game each time, but executed his game plan to perfection to nullify Momen's attacking intent, winning 11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 11-9 to ensure he will play Frenchman Victor Crouin in the last 16. Crouin overcame world No.15 Zahed Salem to reach round three of a major PSA event for the first time.

"That was massive for me," said 24-year-old Makin afterwards.

"I have had two tight losses to him recently. He played well and he is tricky, he moves the ball quickly around the court, he's got into some really consistent form over the last few years and he hasn't really lost to anyone lower down for a while."

Meanwhile, England's Chris Simpson completed the biggest win of his career as he stunned world No.8 Mohamed Abouelghar in a five-game thriller. Abouelghar was making his first appearance of the season after recovering from a shoulder injury, but Simpson played some of the best squash of his career to win 12-10, 7-11, 11-3, 8-11, 11-5 in 73 minutes, setting up a meeting with compatriot Daryl Selby.

"It's the most unexpected win of my career," said the Englishman afterwards.

"I've had an awful summer. Injuries, literally almost no squash and that's sometimes just the way it goes. I was relaxed, I went on and knew he had been injured as well and after having such a good end to the season maybe he put a bit of pressure on himself, but I just wanted to do myself justice and to be honest I didn't have any considerations about winning."

Meanwhile, Frenchman Baptiste Masotti also claimed his best career win as he played some immaculate squash to defeat world No.9 Miguel Rodriguez, 24 hours after he upset former world No.5 Borja Golan. He will now play off against Malaysia's Eain Yow Ng for a place in the quarter-finals, with Ng beating Germany's Raphael Kandra.

Elsewhere, Egypt's world No.25 Mostafa Asal came back from two games down to upset world No.7 Diego Elias in a fractious 77-minute match. No.4 seed Simon Rösner was the other seed to bow out after he fell to Egypt's Fares Dessouky.