The all-Egyptian battle between former World No.1 Raneem El Welily and current incumbent Nour El Sherbini, the recently crowned World Champion, saw El Welily claim a vital opening victory as the first day of action at the PSA Dubai World Series Finals sped along adjacent to the Burj Khalifa.
The two shot-makers revelled in the shorter, best of three format, making the most of the added intensity from the off as they played out an explosive battle that was jam-packed with scintillating winners that came in from all angles of the court.
Only two points separated them in the first as El Welily, who defeated El Sherbini to claim the Windy City Open crown earlier this season, took a tight tie-break 12-10 and she managed to secure the win courtesy of an even more intense tie-break in the second game.
After securing her first match point it looked like the flamboyant Cairo-based star would wrap up the win in relatively straightforward fashion but a dogged onslaught from El Sherbini followed before El Welily finally secured the win 17-15.
“I didn’t think I had it, especially at the end where I had four match balls and couldn’t finish the match off,” said El Welily.
“But I’m happy to be through, there are so many emotions playing the World Series Finals. There’s zero pressure, but you also want to do well. You want to win, but you’re actually relaxed, so you don’t know what to do or how you should feel or act on court.
“I’m happy with the way I played today. Nour is obviously playing well. I’m pretty sure she has been very busy lately in Egypt with the media, the exams and everything, so full credit to her for how well she played today with everything going around her.
“It’s my first time in Dubai, it’s been great so far, and it’s a great court and a great venue.”
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 2-0: 12-10, 17-15 (29m)