11:29 pm
24 May 2024

Latecomer Ibrahim Downs Lobban In Black Ball Opener

12 Mar 2021

Egyptian teenager Sana Ibrahim claimed the biggest win of her career to date when she got the better of Australia's Donna Lobban on day one of the women's CIB PSA Black Ball Open in Cairo.

The PSA World Tour Platinum tournament, held at the Black Ball Sporting Club in the Egyptian capital, is the first PSA World Tour event to take place in 2021 following the ongoing effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Ibrahim was one of six Egyptian players to prevail on the opening day of action.

The 18-year-old from Cairo is ranked 67 in the world - 45 places below Lobban - and only came into the draw 24 hours earlier following the withdrawal of Menna Hamed. Ibrahim fought back from 2/1 down to earn an 5-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 11-9 victory in 49 minutes, one which will see the teenager take on world No.14 Rowan Elaraby for a place in the last 16.

"I'm so happy," said Ibrahim. "I didn't think I'd get to play Black Ball because I was the first reserve. It's a big chance and I had to take it.

"I said to myself that I'm not losing anything if I lose, so play and be happy when you play. My family and my friends are here, I'm so happy because my mum, my dad, my brother and coaches are here and I hope the Egyptians come and support me."

Elsewhere, Scotland's world No.40 Lisa Aitken mounted a superb comeback to get the better of England's Lucy Turmel.

Aitken looked down and out after falling to a 2/0 deficit but started hitting the back corners with regularity from the third game onwards as she turned the tables on the world No.36. The Scot will now face Egypt's Hania El Hammamy, the world No.5 who won this tournament in March 2020 before going on to reach the final of the most recent CIB Black Ball Open in December of last year.

"It was a really scrappy affair between myself and Lucy," said Aitken.

"It certainly wasn't our best squash. I was a little bit disappointed. I have been playing and training really well but nothing replicates that tournament environment and match pressure on the day. The nerves definitely got the better of me there and I'm just a bit out of practice in that situation."

World No.20 Sabrina Sobhy was also in action on day one as she went up against 15-year-old Malak Fathy in the final match of the day.

Sobhy, 24, broke inside the top 20 in January of this year and will look to replicate the kind of form that saw her test the likes of world No.3 Camille Serme towards the end of 2020. The US No.3 has a tough second round clash against world No.1 Nour El Sherbini. Sobhy will aim to avenge her defeat to the Egyptian in December's Black Ball Open.

"I played Sherbini not too long ago in the last Black Ball a few months ago and obviously there's no pressure on me, so that's always an advantage in my opinion," Sobhy said.

"I enjoy those matches, you can relax a bit and you're not so anxious, I'm always looking forward to any opportunity to play a top ranked player and in this case the world No.1. Everything on court she does is inspiring and noteworthy."

The longest match of the day saw England's Millie Tomlinson take out Dutch player Tessa ter Sluis, winning 10-12, 12-10, 13-11, 8-11, 11-6 after 62 minutes of action.

"She has a flick that really caught me up, and she is also very agile," Tomlinson said.

"She moves around very well, and I helped her at the start by making far too many errors. I didn't play my best today but I'm happy to get through, happy I didn't fold mentally and that I didn't give up."