The quarter-finals of the 2019 CIB Black Ball Squash Open take place today with a high-quality draw battling it out for a place in the last four.
The action begins at 17:00 local time (UTC+2) with an all-Egyptian battle between World No.8 Nouran Gohar and ‘giant killer’ Hania El Hammamy – who downed Egypt’s World No.3 Nour El Tayeb in the last round.
They are followed on court by a big battle between current World No.1 Raneem El Welily and England’s former World No.1 Laura Massaro.
The evening session sees New Zealand’s Joelle King battle against India’s unseeded Joshna Chinappa for a place in the semi-finals. They are followed by France’s Camille Serme and Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini, who will meet just over one week after facing each other in the semi-finals of the PSA World Championships.
All matches are on the glass court and will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and Facebook (excluding Europe and Japan).
Can’t watch the action? You can also follow the live scores from the Black Ball Open.
Gohar Books Semi-Finals Place
Egypt’s World No.8 Nouran Gohar became the first player to secure a semi-final berth at the Black Ball Open after coming from a game down against compatriot Hania El Hammamy in Cairo.
El Hammamy picked up from where she left off yesterday after taking out World No.3 Nour El Tayeb as she displayed her confidence to take the first game in a highly impressive first game from the 18-year-old.
The younger Egyptian was unable to keep up that run though in a high-quality match, as Gohar utilised her experience to come back at El Hammamy and impose her own brand of squash onto the Egyptian teenager to level the scores.
El Hammamy continued to fight against the former World No.2, however, Gohar was able to maintain the pressure and looked back to be playing some of her best squash after suffering a dip in form in the last year.
She will now face either World No.1 Raneem El Welily or England’s former World Champion Laura Massaro for a place in the final.
“To play against Hania you have to play at your best,” said the 21-year-old.
“You have to use everything you have in the tank. You have to throw everything, because she is throwing everything at you. I was expecting that and I knew I had to be on my toes from the first point even when I was a match ball up and it was really tough out there.
“She was throwing everything at the front today, she just beat the World No.3, she had nothing to lose and even on match ball, I had to play my best squash.
“You don’t see what’s going on behind the scenes, it was very tough times for us but because of my parents and my coaches I am back to playing right like this now. I’m really happy to be back and enjoying my game again and it means that it working well.
“It would mean the world to me to take the title here, a big title like this and it’s a big bonus that it is being held here in Egypt as well.”
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-1: 6-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-4 (48m)
El Welily Passes Tough Massaro Test
Egypt’s World No.1 Raneem El Welily prevailed in a tough test against England’s former World Champion Laura Massaro to advance to the semi-finals at her home tournament.
The two players are no strangers to competing against each other on the PSA Tour having met 30 times previously, with the Egyptian holding an 18-12 advantage and El Welily ensured she extended that winning streak over the former World No.1 powering to an 11-7, 11-7, 11-4 victory.
Massaro has been showing signs of getting back to her strong form this week after downing Egypt’s Yathreb Adel in straight-games yesterday, however, the power and skill of El Welily proved to be too much.
El Welily has enjoyed one of her best season’s to date on the PSA Tour after returning to her No.1 spot and the Egyptian showed that she was going to be the one to beat in Cairo this week as she prevailed in 31 minutes against a difficult opponent in Massaro.
She will face compatriot Nouran Gohar in the semi-finals tomorrow.
“Laura is a very tough opponent and is hard to beat,” said the 30-year-old Egyptian.
“Mentally is where you have to beat her first and then all of the other areas of course. She’s very hard to play and I’m very pleased to be through to the semi-finals today.
“I’m trying to enjoy myself on court as much as possible, that was my aim at the start of the season. This is what led me to become No.1 and I’m trying to do the same in every match – just try to enjoy myself out there and hopefully it works.
“It’s not going to be easy. Nouran is a very good friend and we play for the same club – Wadi Degla – and so we share a lot of good moments together and we are very close off court, but on court we have had very close matches in the past. Recently we have played a lot of matches, so it’s going to be another exciting match.”
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Laura Massaro (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-7, 11-4 (31m)
King Reigns Over Chinappa
New Zealand’s World No.5 Joelle King was forced to come from 2-1 down against Indian No.1 Joshna Chinappa to reach the semi-finals of the Black Ball Open.
King and Chinappa have faced each other nine times on the PSA Tour with the Indian taking the last victory at the China Squash Open earlier this season, and it was Chinappa who drew first blood in this gladiatorial battle.
Chinappa – who was enjoying a formidable week in Cairo after downing Nicol David and Sarah-Jane Perry in the earlier rounds – was once again in impressive form to take the first game and disrupt the rhythm of King.
The Indian looked as though she was going to carry that momentum to double her advantage as she raced into a 5-1 lead, before King dug deep to find her way back into the match and level the scores.
Chinappa refused to go away though as she once again swung the momentum in her favour to take the third game for the loss of just two points as King once again struggled to contain the Indian player. However, King lived up to her number three seed billing as she once again showed her determination to battle back and push proceedings to a tense deciding fifth game.
What a response from— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 13, 2019
Joelle_King</a> <br><br>She's taking <a href="https://twitter.com/joshnachinappa?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">joshnachinappa to a fifth here in Cairo #squash pic.twitter.com/9NrZSxw79E
The final game proved to be just as tight between the two players as they traded points, before King was able to grind out a 7-11, 12-10, 2-11, 11-5, 11-8 victory in 64 minutes.
“You’ve got to hand it to Joshna,” said World No.5 King.
“She has had an amazing tournament. She beat Nicol 3-0, obviously beat SJ yesterday and came out firing against me today. It’s just one of those wins when you are on the backend of someone playing really well and it took me a while to find my feet, but I think the pleasing thing is that I found a way to win.
“Those matches can be easy to tick off and think I’ve been outplayed, but I dug in and at least thought that if she is going to beat me then I’m going to make it really hard and it’s nice to come off winning.
“Anyone would tell you that you try to forget about matches, but those recent losses are always fresh in your mind. It was only in August last year and she has showed signs of playing well and has had a great tournament here. I guess it’s credit to our coach, we having been working with the same coach, so we are kind of doing similar things I guess. It’s just one of those days, it would have been nice to feel a little less tense, but I guess when you’re the higher seeded player and someone is coming at you then it is easy to get tense and lose your way.
“Camille beat me pretty badly a few weeks ago at the World Champs. Sherbini has always got the wood of me and so whoever I play it’s going to be a new challenge. I have enjoy being here this week and hopefully I can put on another good performance.”
 Joelle King (NZL) bt Joshna Chinappa (IND) 3-2: 7-11, 12-10, 2-11, 11-5, 11-8 (64m)
El Sherbini Edges Past Serme in Thriller
Egypt’s current World Champion Nour El Sherbini found a way to win in an epic five-game battle against a resilient Camille Serme of France to book her place in the semi-finals in Cairo.
The two players were facing each other for the second time this month after meeting in the semi-finals of the PSA World Championships in Chicago, which also saw El Sherbini take the win in five and the two players once again went toe-to-toe in one of the matches of the season.
Serme looked like a woman on a mission in the opening exchanges as she was determined to extract revenge for her defeat in Chicago, playing with impressive accuracy to take a 1-0 lead.
"Who knew panthers could fly?!"
What a shot from
CamilleSerme</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/squash?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#squash</a> <a href="https://t.co/KnW6ZcIgYm">pic.twitter.com/KnW6ZcIgYm</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) March 13, 2019
El Sherbini was not going down without a fight, however, as this time she was forced to come from behind compared to their meeting earlier this month in Chicago when she lead 2-0.
Reaction skills from— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 13, 2019
CamilleSerme</a> <br><br>The Frenchwoman is in top form today against <a href="https://twitter.com/noursherbini?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">noursherbini #squash pic.twitter.com/6pCWXUCyRY
It continued to be a gladiatorial stand-off between the pair as they went the full distance to five-games with Serme playing some of her best squash, but in the end the ‘Warrior Princess’ had too much and was able to close out the win after going 2-1 down.
She will now face New Zealand’s Joelle King for a place in the final tomorrow.
“It’s really hard every time against Camille,” said the 23-year-old following her victory.
“It’s always tough. Last time I was 2-0 up and this time I was 2-1 down, I’m really happy that I’m through. I just kept pushing and pushing and having this support behind me, they gave me a push and I think they played an important part today.
“The crowd gives me confidence and their support is amazing. I love playing in Egypt and hopefully the crowd will come again tomorrow to support me.
“I’m playing Joelle, it’s going to be tough. We last played a while ago and so it is going to be a tough one. I’m going to try to relax now and focus and look forward to tomorrow’s match.”
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Camille Serme (FRA) 3-2: 4-11, 12-10, 6-11, 11-7, 11-8 (64m)