The semi-finals of the 2019 CIB Black Ball Squash Open take place today as the remaining players battle it out for a place in the PSA World Tour Gold tournament final.
All matches will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only), Facebook (Indian subcontinent only) and ONSport (Egypt) from 19:00 local time (UTC+2).
Can’t watch the action? You can also follow the live scores from the Black Ball Open.
Our first semi-final sees an all-Egyptian battle between Raneem El Welily and Nouran Gohar.
This will be the 13th meeting between the two Egyptians on the PSA Tour, with El Welily holding the advantage with nine wins to Gohar’s three.
Gohar’s last victory over her compatriot came in the 2016-2017 PSA Dubai World Series Finals. The 21-year-old has also been knocked out of her last three successive tournaments by El Welily.
Today marks Gohar’s 200th PSA World Tour match and she will be hoping to crown that milestone with a big win over the World No.1, while El Welily will be aiming to reach her 46th PSA final.
The next semi-final will see New Zealand’s World No.5 Joelle King face Egypt’s reigning World Champion Nour El Sherbini.
The two players have met just eight times on the PSA World Tour, with El Sherbini holding a strong advantage over her New Zealand opponent, with seven wins to King’s one.
The New Zealander’s last win over El Sherbini came at the 2012 US Open in round one.
Both players have enjoyed a strong season, with King claiming her maiden PSA Platinum title back in November at the Hong Kong Open, while El Sherbini took home the Tournament of Champions title in January and claimed her third World Championship crown in Chicago just two weeks ago.
El Welily Battles Past Gohar in Thriller
World No.1 Raneem El Welily scrapped through to the final of the Black Ball Open following a brutal five-game all-Egyptian battle with compatriot Nouran Gohar.
The two players are no strangers to meeting each other on the PSA World Tour, after facing each other three times already this season, with all of those victories going to El Welily.
It was Gohar – who was celebrating her 200th PSA World Tour match – who got off to the better start though as she attacked with relentless pressure in the opening exchanges to find her targets quickly and edge out El Welily to take a one-game lead.
Gohar continued her ferocious hitting to put the World No.1 under pressure, however, the experienced El Welily was able to weather the storm to break-up the rhythm of 21-year-old Gohar and level the scores.
El Welily looked to have settled into her rhythm in the third as she positioned herself higher up the court to get in front of Gohar and executed her shots well to take a 2-1 lead with Gohar requesting a new ball at the end of the third.
It looked to have been a master stroke from the young Egyptian, who has showed signs of getting back to her best, as she unsettled El Welily once again to take the fourth for the loss of just four points and push the match to a tense decider.
The momentum swung both ways in the fifth, with both players trading matchballs, before El Welily was eventually able to close out on the tie-break to take a 9-11, 11-7, 11-5, 4-11, 15-13 victory in 66 minutes.
“All credit to Nouran,” said 30-year-old El Welily.
“It takes two players to play a good match and full credit to her today.
“I wasn’t so relaxed, I’m just happy to be through today, it was such a crucial match and I’m glad I pushed myself. It’s great to be home and playing in front of my family and friends today.
“When I was relaxed, I was happy to play that quality of squash. When you are relaxed, you don’t mind being pushed, you don’t mind running all over the court. But when you are tense, you don’t see anything clearly. But at 2-2, it’s difficult to be relaxed, so I’m just happy I managed to come through.
“It would mean so much [to win the title], but I don’t like to think about it that way. I’m just looking forward to playing another match tomorrow and glad to be through after that brutal match.”
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 11-7, 11-5, 4-11, 15-13 (66m)
El Sherbini Through to Final
A masterclass performance from reigning World Champion Nour El Sherbini saw her book herself a place in her third successive final after she downed New Zealand’s World No.5 Joelle King in straight-games.
Going into the encounter, El Sherbini boasted a strong head-to-head record over the Kiwi with seven victories to King’s one, and the Egyptian kept up that winning streak with a sublime performance in Cairo.
The World No.2 showed no signs of fatigue from her epic five-game battle with France’s Camille Serme last night as she stormed to a 2-0 advantage finding all of her targets with pinpoint accuracy.
King came back at her in the third to take the lead, however, it proved to be too late as the Egyptian came back to take the match on the tie-break and claim an 11-7, 11-4, 12-10 victory in 34 minutes.
She will now face rival Raneem El Welily in the final tomorrow night.
“Yesterday was a really tough match,” said Egypt’s El Sherbini following her win.
“I was sure today was going to be tougher, so I really wanted to be ready from the start and focused. As you could see she was coming back strong in the last game, but I was just trying to finish the last game, because I didn’t want it to be longer than that, so I’m really pleased to sneak the last match.
“I’ve been suffering with a lot of things and so I’m really glad that from the start of this season, I’m playing good. The women’s game is always improving and getting tougher. All of us are really fast and really good and putting the game at another level.
“Me and Raneem have been battling for a long time now and most of the matches have been in finals. Hopefully the better player will win and I’m going to take it as if it is just another match and hopefully we will keep playing in more finals.”
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 3-0: 11-7, 11-4, 12-10 (34m)