11:27 pm
22 Feb 2024

Subramaniam Makes El Gouna Quarters In Malaysian Breakthrough

31 May 2022

Unseeded Sivasangari Subramaniam became the first female Malaysian to reach the last eight of a major PSA World Tour event since the legendary Nicol David in January 2018 when she defeated Australia's Donna Lobban to reach the quarter-finals of the El Gouna International at the El Gouna Squash Complex in the Egyptian Red Sea resort.

In her first appearance in a PSA World Tour Platinum quarter final, the 23-year-old world No.20 from Kuala Lumpur will face No.2 seed Nour El Sherbini. The reigning World Champion from Egypt continued her El Gouna International title defence as she overcame Belgium's Nele Gilis in a comfortable 3/0 victory at the El Gouna Conference & Culture Center.

Gilis - who came back from two games down in a brutal 75-minute encounter with England's Lucy Turmel in the previous round - was carrying an injury and her movement around the court was impeded, meaning she was unable to live with a dominant El Sherbini, with the world No.2 easing into the last eight courtesy of an 11-3, 11-2, 11-3 victory in 23 minutes.

"I'm trying not to think about any tiredness or anything," said El Sherbini, who captured her sixth World Championship title a fortnight ago.

"This is a new tournament and a new event, so I'm trying to just focus on this. The rallies get longer in the heat, I try not to get involved in too many long matches and rallies. The court is hot and bouncy, so I was trying to keep it short and today, I wanted to finish as quickly as I could and thankfully all my shots went in and it helped me a lot.

"I've never played her [Subramaniam] before but she's very talented and still young, I can't expect anything, but I'll do my best to prepare for it."

British Open champion Hania El Hammamy is also through to the last eight after the world No.3 got the better of Subramaniam's compatriot, Rachel Arnold, winning 11-5, 11-3, 11-8.

"After the Worlds, we haven't had much time to move on and recover from disappointment," El Hammamy said.

"This tournament is a little bit nicer to be able to get through more easily, so I can have more time to relax, move on and be mentally sharp for the next rounds. We're going to see a response from me this week."

Joelle King will be El Hammamy's opponent in the next round after the New Zealander defeated USA's Olivia Fiechter.

Men's World Champion Ali Farag booked his place in the quarter finals, but the Egyptian was tested by world No.19 Raphael Kandra, who took a game off his opponent for the first time since 2016.

Farag held firm though to complete an 11-8, 9-11, 11-3, 11-4 victory which will see him play No.7 seed Marwan Elshorbagy next. Elshorbagy, who lost out to Farag in the CIB PSA World Championships two weeks ago, defeated India's Mahesh Mangaonkar in straight games.

"El Gouna International is one of the main events of the year, it was Amr Mansi and ievents who kickstarted all the events in Egypt," said Farag.

"I know we had the pyramids back in the 90s, but it was backed up by the government, this was the first one that was a privately-run event. I was here at the very first one and I'm honoured to have lifted that trophy one time, but it will definitely sound better if I can lift it again."

The final match of the day saw world No.4 Mostafa Asal and world No.7 Joel Makin go head-to-head, with Asal winning a lengthy and attritional battle - which featured a number of traffic issues throughout - by an 11-7, 11-8, 6-11, 11-7 scoreline in 83 minutes.

"Every match is a new challenge, I was disappointed [at the World Championships] because I believe in myself and my game," said Asal.

"I was so close to the final, but there is a lot to come. I know I can be there and competing for the title one day, but for now I'm focusing on this week and a rest day tomorrow, so I'll focus on the next match."