Egypt’s Raneem El Welily came through a thrilling battle with 2x World Series Finals champion Nicol David to reach the final of the 2016 iteration of the iconic tournament, taking place in front of Dubai’s stunning Burj Khalifa, and set up a title-decider with England’s Laura Massaro.
El Welily, who topped the world rankings from September – December last year, has been in scintillating form so far this week and she continued to play her red-hot brand of attacking squash as she slotted winner after winner in an opening game that was one-way traffic in favour of the 27-year-old.
But David, who dominated the sport from 2006-2015, responded in style in the second, extending the relies and using her supreme conditioning and athletic ability to counter El Welily and enforce her own game plan – and she was rewarded when she levelled the scoreboard.
In the third David continued to do everything in her power to keep the ball coming back at El Wleily, who was having to produce her very best shot making abilities to close out the points, but it was the Egyptian who stood up to the mental and physical challenge to see it out 11-5, 8-11, 11-8.
“The crowd were expecting a good match and I think we gave them that,” said El Welily.
“I really had to push through at the end because I was feeling tired and stating to cramp so I just had to give it everything because playing Nicol is never easy.
“She was definitely keen today – I could feel the vibes coming from her but I wanted to win too so I wasn’t intimidated by her and I’m really pleased to be in the final.
“There are zero expectations for tomorrow against Laura. We have played so many times and it is always close so hopefully we will play a match that the crowd enjoy.
“It’s also best of five so I need to prepare as best I can now for tomorrow. I’m so happy to be part of such a big event and a tournament with equal prize money. It is such a great thing for the sport and for squash to take that step and show everyone else that it can be done is great.”
After the match David said: “It’s been a good week for me because this format brings out the best of your game and you have to be sharp from the beginning.
“In the first game today Raneem just took the initiative straight away and I had to find a way to come back at her in the second. I managed to do that and carried it into the third but she just found some of her best shots and I exposed myself too much and she took confidence from it.”
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Nicol David (MAS) 2-1: 11-5, 8-11, 11-8 (36m)