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Raneem El Welily in action against Tesni Evans at the Mall of Arabia

World Tour Finals - Day One: As It Happens

The CIB PSA World Tour Finals action begins today as the first six matches of the tournament take place at the Mall of Arabia in Cairo, Egypt.

Egypt's World No.1 Raneem El Welily and Wales' World No.9 Tesni Evans kick off the day's action in the first match of the day at 19:30 local time (UTC+2).

They are followed on court by Egypt's World No.2 and defending men's champion Mohamed ElShorbagy who will face Peruvian Puma Diego Elias.

Players competing at the World Tour Finals will compete in group stages, which are held under a best-of-three games format, with the top two from each group progressing to the knockout semi-finals and beyond.

Points are on offer for all results in group matches, apart from a 2-0 loss. If a player was to lose 2-1, they get one point. If a player was to win their match 2-1, they would receive three points, and if they win in straight games 2-0, they get the full four points.

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Here's the Order of Play
(All times are local GMT+2)

El Welily off to Winning Start in Cario

Egypt’s World No.1 Raneem El Welily got her final tournament of the season off to a winning start as she overcame Wales’ World No.9 Tesni Evans in two-games at the CIB PSA World Tour Finals.

Players competing at the World Tour Finals will compete in group stages, which are held under a best-of-three games format, with the top two from each group progressing to the knockout semi-finals and beyond and El Welily ensured she got off to the perfect start with a dominant performance at the Mall of Arabia in Cairo.

The Egyptian, who was named the PSA Women’s Player of the Year last night, was in full flow in the opening game to not allow Evans a chance to get into the match as she took a 1-0 lead.

Evans changed her game plan in the second to attack more and took the lead for the first time in the match, however, El Welily soon countered to comeback and was able to close out an 11-4, 11-6 win in 18 minutes and the full four points on offer.

“I think in the second she found a pace that suited her more than it suited me,” said World No.1 El Welily afterwards.

“I had to up that a little bit and push myself to make things a bit quicker.

“You practice on the court a lot, but every day the conditions are different. Obviously, the weather is really hot, we practiced this morning at 11am and the ball was bouncing high up and it’s very different to what we have played on today, but definitely a situation that you can adjust to.

“As Egyptians we are very lucky to be playing the last tournament at home and not having to travel on a plane. We are very lucky to be able to play in front of our home crowd and playing in a tournament where my family and coaches can watch and also playing in a tournament that CIB and Wadi Degla, my own sponsors, are sponsoring.”

[1] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt [8] Tesni Evans (WAL) 2-0: 11-4, 11-6 (18m)

ElShorbagy Overcomes Elias in Thriller

Egypt’s World No.2 and defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy was pushed all the way in a high-octane battle in Cairo as he overcame Peruvian Puma Diego Elias by a 6-11, 11-3, 17-15 scoreline in 63 minutes.

The two-players went toe-to-toe in a thrilling round one battle which saw both showcase their best attributes and delight the crowd inside the venue at the Mall of Arabia.

A strong start from Peru’s Elias, who has already defeated ElShorbagy once earlier this season at the Qatar Classic, saw him take the first game before the Egyptian roared back to equalise.

Elias got his focus back in the third to edge ahead and hold three match balls, however, ElShorbagy battled back each time to save all three and push the match to a tense tie-break situation.

The two players continued to go back and forth with some impressive rallies pushing both players to their limits, but Elias kept his focus to once again edge in front to hold his fourth match ball.

A resilient ElShorbagy – who has won the PSA World Tour Finals title the past two years – was not going away though as he saved another match ball from the Peruvian.

It was then ElShorbagy’s turn to get his chance to take the match, however, Elias did not go down without a fight either as he saved four match balls from the British Open champion before ElShorbagy was able to convert on his fifth attempt.

“We both had a lot of match balls,” said 28-year-old ElShorbagy.

“Matches like this, every time we play each other it always goes down to the wire. He’s a great player and I always say that he is going to beat us all one day and I’m going to try and make it as late as possible, but one day he is a future World No.1 and a future World Champion.

“He has everything to not just be World No.1 one day, but also be a great ambassador for our sport and I have had huge respect for him since he was a junior. I love his game and the way he plays, he makes it look so easy, while I make it look so hard. I’m happy to play in a high-quality match and I look forward to another match with him.

“The crowd was amazing and it’s great that it’s fully packed from the first day. Any tournament in Egypt is always fully packed and it’s great for our sport and I’m happy to be playing in front of everyone.”

[2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [7] Diego Elias (PER) 2-1: 6-11, 11-3, 17-15 (63m)

Serme Conquers King

France’s World No.3 Camille Serme came from two match balls down to defeat New Zealand’s Joelle King in Group A of the PSA World Tour Finals.

All three games went to tie-breaks as both played to an intense tempo in Cairo. However, it was the Frenchwoman who was able to hold her nerve and close out as she claimed a 12-14, 12-10, 12-10 victory in 55 minutes.

King, who qualified automatically for the World Tour Finals after winning the Hong Kong Open title, started strongly to take the opening game, 14-12.

However, Serme – who reached the final of the British Open last month – came back in the second in a high-quality contest to draw level against the Kiwi.

The momentum once again swung in King’s favour though as she held two game balls against the Frenchwoman, before Serme found her accuracy and composure to take her opportunity at the first time of asking and close out a 12-14, 12-10, 12-10 victory.

“I remember those really close matches and being match ball down and winning at the end,” said 30-year-old Serme.

“I was thinking ‘it’s not finished yet’, but obviously I got a bit of luck at the end. It could have gone either way and I think it was a good match from both of us and at least we gave it all.

“The intensity is straight from the first point, you are straight into it. I remember the first rally was really long and I was thinking ‘ok, it is going to be a long match’. It’s hard because you have to stay focused the whole way and I think that is one of my weaknesses that I struggle to stay really focused the whole way and I think today was the same. I got a bit lucky at the end and I just relaxed with my shots as well.

“I just want to focus on each match and we will see how it goes tomorrow and I’m happy to get the win today.”

[4] Camille Serme (FRA) bt [5] Joelle King (NZL) 2-1: 12-14, 12-10, 12-10 (55m)

Momen Secures Win over Rösner

Egypt’s Tarek Momen came from one game down to defeat Germany’s Simon Rösner in round one of the PSA World Tour Finals.

The head-to-head record was tight between the two players with the tall German leading 5-4, however, Momen did claim the last meeting between the pair at the El Gouna International earlier this year and it was the Egyptian who reigned victorious on home soil in this meeting.

The World No.3 – who has been out of action lately with a hamstring injury – showed that he was back to full fitness as he came from a game down to take three points against Rösner.

The German took the first game with a lot of errors coming from the racket of Momen, however, the Egyptian cut that out in the second game to take control from the outset and level the scores for the loss of just three points.

The third and final game proved to be a tight affair with both players playing good squash, however, it was Momen who was eventually able to close out the 6-11, 11-3, 11-8 victory in 44 minutes.

“It always really tough against Simon,” said 31-year-old Momen.

“If you see the head-to-head it is really close and tight. I actually came into this tournament with no expectations. I took some time off to sort a minor injury and I’m in good shape now. With practice, Ramadan and all the players were at the British Open so I had no players to train with, so I didn’t have much match practice. Coming here I knew I could play well, but at the same time I could have my phases and I was really afraid this might happen but the way I handled it just proved to me that there is an improvement for me this season.

“It’s not something we’re used to, we usually play indoors and it is air conditioned – it’s nothing like this. But I had my share in El Gouna against Ali [Farag] and I think I had to kick out at least 200 roaches and moths, so I have experience in that department and today I just dealt with it. The more you play in these conditions the more you get used to it.

“The crowd has been amazing, it is only the first day and the crowd is packed. I’m really appreciative of the people who show support and come every day.”

[3] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [6] Simon Rösner (GER) 2-1: 6-11, 11-3, 11-8 (44m)

Perry Shocks Defending Champion El Sherbini

England’s No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry caused an upset as she came from 9-3 down in the second game to defeat defending champion Nour El Sherbini 2-0 under the lights at the Mall of Arabia.

Perry holds a strong record over three-time World Champion El Sherbini, with the Englishwoman winning her last two matches against the former World No.1 this season, including most recently at the British Open and she ensured she claimed the hattrick as she claimed a round one win over the 23-year-old.

It was the Egyptian who started stronger in both of the games, going 8-5 up in the first below losing six points in a row and then holding a 9-3 advantage in the second, which Perry again soon whittled down as she found her accuracy and range to devastating effect.

“I just relaxed and remembered that there wasn’t any pressure on me,” said 29-year-old Perry.

“I just played my squash and thankfully hit some nice shots after that and got back into it.

“I remember playing her on this court in Gouna a couple of years ago and I got an absolute lesson and have had a few of those over the years. It makes it a bit of a bonus being here at the end of the season following my operation and so I’m just trying to seize any opportunity that comes my way on the court.

“You can’t afford to have a bad start and you can’t afford to go 9-3 down in any game. I didn’t think about winning that game when I was 9-3 down, I just tried to play my way back in because I knew how important the third game was.”

[7] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 2-0: 11-8, 11-9 (23m)

Farag Defeats Compatriot Abouelghar

Egypt’s World No.1 Ali Farag saw his PSA World Tour Finals campaign get off to a winning start as he overcame compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar in two-games.

The head-to-head between the two players is level, with each claiming one win over the other this season. However, it was Farag was reigned victorious on this occasion with a strong performance in his home country.

Reigning World Champion Farag started strongly before Abouelghar rattled off seven points in succession to hold two game balls. Farag was able to come back though to convert at his first opportunity to take a tough first game.

The momentum completely shifted at the start of the second as Abouelghar powered into the lead, but this time it was Farag who fought his way back to close out by a 12-10, 11-9 scoreline and claim all four points on offer from the encounter.

“It’s the exact same as the first two games of the British Open,” said Farag following his victory.

“One was leading and the other is catching up and then it goes the other way, but thankfully it’s been going my way so far so I can’t complain.

“I’m sorry if the referee ever thought we were overdoing it [getting the court wiped] but it is really dangerous to keep going and me and Mohamed both agreed on it. No-one really wanted to rest but it’s humid and you can see all the water droplets on the floor. I think even with that we still played a high quality match and the conditions are difficult to deal with. Thank you to everyone who stayed to watch us.

“I’m still learning a lot about myself. Coming into this tournament I knew I needed a bit of a rest and I didn’t need to train anymore as it has been a long season and I had to be smart with my head and body. I took a couple of days off by the beach and did some exercises away from squash which was needed and I think that made me sharp ahead of this tournament.

“Whenever Nour [wife El Tayeb] is playing is never relaxing, you know how it is for the two of us! It’s even more intense when you’re sitting outside rather than playing, but I will have a hit in the morning and get the body going, then have the clinic with the juniors and then watch Nour.”

[1] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [8] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 2-0: 12-10, 11-9 (39m)

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