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Amanda Sobhy on her way to first-round defeat to Sivasangari Subramaniam

Women's World Champs: Round One Afternoon Session - Reports & Comment

The CIB PSA Women's World Championship gets under way today with the first round action taking place at the Shooting Club 6th of October in Cairo, Egypt.

All 64 players in the draw will be in action across four courts, with defending champion Nour El Sherbini making her first appearance of the 2019-20 season, as she takes on England's Rachael Chadwick, after struggling with a knee injury at the start of the new campaign.

While last season's runner-up Nour El Tayeb, World No.1 Raneem El Welily and 2019 U.S. Open champion Nouran Gohar all also top the bill for the home country.

France's Camille Serme, New Zealand's Joelle King, England's Sarah-Jane Perry and America's Amanda Sobhy will also all be looking to get their World Championship campaigns off to strong starts.

Find out how to watch the action live here.

If you are unable to watch, you can keep up with the live scores from the event here.

You can also follow reports and reaction from the players right here.

Evans Eases Past Bunyan as Au Survives Tough Fiechter Test

Tesni Evans in action against Nicole Bunyan

Wales’ World No.9 Tesni Evans got her PSA World Championship campaign up and running with a comfortable 3-0 win over Canada’s World No.67 Nicole Bunyan to book her place in the second round of the prestigious tournament.

The Welshwoman wasted no time in settling into her rhythm as she found all of her targets quickly to despatch Bunyan by an 11-1, 11-3, 11-2 scoreline in 19 minutes.

“I’m really happy with that,” said Evans following her win.

“It’s important to get off to a good start. Everyone is playing well and wants to do well here, so it was really important for me to get off to a good start and get into it.

“I’ve been happy my performances so far this season. I’ve played two tournaments and played well, so that’s really good. I’m hoping I will do a little bit better here and try and improve on how I’ve been playing.

“We’ve been here a couple of times to play Al Ahram and it’s such an iconic venue. It’s great to have the women competing by ourselves for our own World Championships on the glass court and I know everyone in Egypt gets behind women’s squash, which is so good for us.”

Annie Au pictured against Olivia Fiechter

On the other court, Hong Kong’s World No.10 Annie Au prevailed in a tough encounter against United States’ World No.40 Olivia Fiechter to reach the second round.

The two players last met in the second round of this year’s British Open, where the American was playing well to take first game before being forced to retire due to injury.

However, this time it was Au who started strongly as she took a tight first game, before momentum swung in the favour of Fiechter to level the scores. Au then utilised her experience to come back and take the lead once more before closing out an 11-9, 4-11, 11-3, 11-7 win.

Results:
[9] Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Nicole Bunyan (CAN) 3-0: 11-1, 11-3, 11-2 (19m)
[10] Annie Au (HKG) bt Olivia Fiechter (USA) 3-1: 11-9, 4-11, 11-3, 11-7 (36m)

Hany Ends Arnold’s Winning Run as El Hammamy Beats Hutton

Salma Hany (left) v Rachel Arnold (right)

Egypt’s World No.15 Salma Hany brought an end to World No.43 Rachel Arnold’s run of back-to-back tournament wins to move into the second round courtesy of a 3-0 victory.

Arnold came into the fixture boasting title wins at the Malaysian Open and the Chennai leg of the SRFI Indian Tour, but she was unable to trouble Hany in the opening game as the 23-year-old dominated proceedings at the Shooting Club 6th of October, dropping six points.

The final two games were more closely-contested as some nice touches from the Malaysian – including some well-placed trickle boasts – enabled her to put points on the board.

But Hany always held a measure of control as she put in a mentally focused performance, and she did enough to see the win over the line by an 11-6, 11-9, 11-9 margin in 26 minutes.

Hany will line up against either England’s Emily Whitlock or South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller in the next round as she aims to advance beyond the last 32 of this tournament for the first time in her career.

“I knew it would be a tough first round, Rachel has been playing really well and she has won her last two events, so I had to be focused from the first rally and prepare really well for the tournament,” said Hany.

“Of course, I was a bit nervous because it was the first round of the World Championship, but I'm glad I managed to get through in three, and I'm very happy with my performance.

“I enjoyed having my parents and coaches here, and I'm looking forward to the next round. It's the biggest women's tournament, and it's in my home country, so I have everyone around. 

“There are a lot of nerves, but at the same time there is a lot of excitement and a lot of adrenaline. It's a good thing for us Egyptians to have this tournament here in our home country, and hopefully it will be a good tournament for everyone.

“It would mean a lot to perform in front of the Pyramids, in front of all my friends and family. It's going to give me a huge push to win that match tomorrow, so I can make it to that amazing venue over there.”

Her compatriot, World Junior Champion Hania El Hammamy also moved into the next round as she dispatched England’s Jasmine Hutton in straight games.

El Hammamy will play Donna Lobban as she moves to within one victory of a coveted place on the glass court in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Results
[13] Salma Hany (EGY) bt Rachel Arnold (MAS) 3-0: 11-6, 11-9, 11-9 (26m)
[14] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Jasmine Hutton (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-3 (27m)

Fuller Upsets Whitlock to Record Best Ever World Champs Finish

Alexandra Fuller (right) v Emily Whitlock (left)

South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller will appear in the second round of the PSA Women’s World Championships for the first time in her career after she upset the higher-ranked Emily Whitlock to claim a 3-0 triumph.

In the first upset of this year’s showpiece women’s tournament, World No.41 Fuller toppled Whitlock by a 13-11, 11-8, 16-14 scoreline – despite the latter having six game ball opportunities in the third.

Fuller played tight, methodical squash to narrowly take the opening game, while she stayed a step ahead of her opponent in game two to double her lead.

Whitlock’s lob and drop game paid dividends in the third though as the World No.31 pulled away to lead 10-7, only to see successive tins hand Fuller a lifeline, and she won the next point to draw level.

Whitlock had three further game balls in the tie-break, but the Englishwoman just couldn’t convert as a tenacious Fuller dug in, and she rattled off three points in a row to come back from 14-13 down to seal her spot in the last 32, where Egypt’s Salma Hany awaits.

“I think I played well, my main thing going into this tournament was where my head space has been, so I just wanted to put in a good performance,” Fuller said.

“I didn't really mind what the result was. I just kept telling myself that I didn't want to play another game, so I pushed really hard to get through the third game and then the match was over, so I was trying to get myself going on every single point. 

“I've never played Salma before, but I know she is a really nice, clean player, so I'm looking forward to a good game.”

Donna Lobban (right) v Sarah Cardwell (left)

Meanwhile, Australia’s Donna Lobban swept past Latvia’s Ineta Mackevica in a comfortable 3-0 victory to step up her recovery from a knee surgery which has seen her spend just shy of a year out of the game.

The former World No.13 – who has now dropped to No.53 in the world – came within a whisker of upsetting World No.12 Joshna Chinappa at the U.S. Open earlier this month, and her dominant performance against today’s opponent suggests she is getting back to her best.

She will take on World Junior Champion Hania El Hammamy next for a place in round three.

Results
Alexandra Fuller (RSA) bt [20] Emily Whitlock (ENG) 3-0: 13-11, 11-8, 16-14 (37m)
[27] Donna Lobban (AUS) bt Ineta Mackevica (LAT) 3-0: 11-2, 11-6, 11-9 (21m)

Egypt’s Shahin and France’s Aumard Both Progress

Nadine Shahin (right) against Cindy Merlo (left)

Egypt’s World No.21 Nadine Shahin booked her place into the second round of the PSA World Championship after defeating Switzerland’s Cindy Merlo in straight-games.

A tight first game went in the favour of the Cairo-born Egyptian, before she truly expressed her dominance on the match to see it out by a 12-10, 11-3, 11-7 margin in 20 minutes.

Shahin will now face Hong Kong’s Annie Au for a place in the third round.

“It was my first time playing Cindy on tour. I had trained with her though and she took a game of me, so I knew it was going to be tough,” said Shahin afterwards.

“She is training in Egypt now with Takashi [Mohamed Reda] and he is doing a great job with her, she is starting to play like an Egyptian. I was lucky to take the first game, it was so close on the tie break and I’m very happy to win.

“It would mean the world for me to play in front of the pyramids. Since I was very young, I saw Shabana, Barada, and it has always been my dream to play on that court. So if I win on Saturday, I’ll be able to tell my kids 'I played there'.”

Coline Aumard in action against Danielle Letourneau

Meanwhile, France’s Coline Aumard also progressed after she battled past Canada’s World No.34 Danielle Letourneau to set up a second-round meeting with Welshwoman Tesni Evans.

The Frenchwoman, who has got the better of Letourneau in all three of their previous meetings, was forced to work hard to a take two game lead as the Canadian pushed her all the way in both the opening games. However, Letourneau managed to hit her stride in the third to reduce the deficit, but it was not enough to upset the charge of Aumard who closed out an 11-9, 12-10, 5-11, 11-6 win.

Results:
[22] Nadine Shahin (EGY) bt [L] Cindy Merlo (SUI) 3-0: 12-10, 11-3, 11-7 (20m)
[31] Coline Aumard (FRA) bt Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-1: 11-9, 12-10, 5-11, 11-6 (42m)

Grinham and Mickawy Power Through to Round Two

Australia’s former World No.1 Rachael Grinham and Egypt’s World No.20 Zeina Mickawy both prevailed against Australia’s Sarah Cardwell and Finland’s Emilia Soini, respectively, to reach round two of the PSA Women’s World Championship.

42-year-old Grinham, who made her World Championship debut 25 years ago and has lifted the title once, showed that age was nothing but a number as she impressed with an accomplished performance to take an 11-8, 11-9, 11-6 win.

“I think I just like the strategy of squash,” said Grinham. “Nowadays, I cannot and wouldn’t dream of competing with the players who are all half my age! I couldn’t win those physical battles.

“But I guess that’s why I love squash. You can win with a powerful game, or with a fast game, or with a clever game. I just like the challenge. I like to beat my players strategically. You look at the strength and weaknesses, and you limit their strength, and hit their weakness.

“I think all the time, trying to take advantage of every single shot I play, and playing my game. Last time I played at the Pyramids was the last time we were here – 2016. I played [Nour El] Sherbini. That was tough. The conditions were difficult, dusty, not that it would have made any difference to be honest, still I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Zeina Mickawy (right) in action against Emilia Soini (left)

Meanwhile, Mickawy was playing for the first time against Finland’s Soini and was forced to halt a comeback from the World No.59 as the Egyptian took the opener, before Soini found her range to level the scores.

Mickawy resharpened her focus in the third, however, to move back into the lead comfortably before being forced to close the match out on the tie-break in the fourth.

“Emilia has really good hands,” said Mickawy afterwards.

“She started the first game really well and she was killing all the shots, any opportunity she would hit it and I think I was 10-4 down and I said that I just tried to make my score better until I got to 10-10.

“I had to push to win the game. I was really focused and in the second I lost my focus a little and was a little flat, but the other two games I kept pushing point by point. It’s the first match of the tournament, so it is really difficult and it’s my first time to play her.

“Her game is really different compared to any other player. She slows the pace and she hits really good drop shots, she kept me moving and kept me on my toes.

“It’s my first time playing a World Championship here. I really want to play in front of the Pyramids, that’s what I was thinking about and how I want to perform really well in front of my family and friends and hopefully I will play another good match against whoever I face next.”

Results:
[24] Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt Sarah Cardwell (AUS) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-6 (25m)
[19] Zeina Mickawy (EGY) bt Emilia Soini (FIN) 3-1: 13-11, 5-11, 11-3, 12-10 (32m)

Elaraby and van der Heijden Earn Last 32 Spots

Rowan Elaraby (right) v Lucy Turmel (left)

Two-time World Junior Champion Rowan Elaraby will line up in the last 32 after an impressive performance from the 19-year-old saw her dismantle England’s Lucy Turmel in a comfortable 11-7, 11-3, 11-0 triumph.

World No.31 Elaraby, from Alexandria, navigated a tricky first game as Turmel stayed in the majority of the rallies, but she dominated from then on, failing to drop even a single point in the third.

She will line up against 2018-19 runner-up Nour El Tayeb for a second tournament running after her defeat to the World No.3 at the U.S. Open earlier this month.

“I'm really pleased, I dealt with the pressure really well,” Elaraby said.

“I played Nour in the last tournament in the quarter-finals, and I lost in three, so I'm looking forward to playing better than last time and let's see how it goes.

“I was hoping to play Nour and want to win tomorrow so I can play in front of the Pyramids. I've never played there before, so I'll see how it goes tomorrow and hopefully I can play in front of the Pyramids.”

Milou van der Heijden takes on Menna Nasser

Van der Heijden will take on Malaysia’s Sivasangari Subramaniam in the next round, after she recovered from a game down to beat Egypt’s Menna Nasser 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7 in 37 minutes.

Results
[25] Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt Lucy Turmel (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-3, 11-0 (27m)
[30] Milou van der Heijden (NED) bt Menna Nasser (EGY) 3-1: 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7 (37m)

Perry and King Power into Round Two

Joelle King

England’s Sarah-Jane Perry and New Zealand’s Joelle King both ensured winning starts to their World Championship campaign as they each recorded 3-0 wins in their respective fixtures.

Perry took just 25 minutes to down the Philippines Jemyca Aribado by an 11-5, 11-8, 11-6 margin and will take on former World No.1 Rachael Grinham in the next round.

“It’s amazing to see different countries coming into the sport and giving squash a go,” said English No.1 Perry.

“It’s always interesting to play different players, it makes it a bit different and that’s something that’s special about the World Championships. There’s always that extra group of players that you’re not necessarily that familiar with. Although I’d seen her name on the Challenger Tour, I hadn’t actually seen her play before, which isn’t common.

“I’m always expecting the unexpected from Rachael [Grinham], she’s a class player that has proven that over the years and is still playing some amazing squash and she always makes it awkward for whoever she’s playing against with her racket control and imagination. Hopefully, it will be a good match and I’m looking forward to it.

“I’ve got really good memories here, I beat Nicol [David] and I beat Camille [Serme], so obviously I quite like it here and enjoy playing here, but I’m just focusing on my match tomorrow and I would absolutely love to be able to play on the glass court in front of the Pyramids.”

Meanwhile, King followed Perry’s lead with her own quick match as she prevailed in 27 minutes against Hong Kong’s Tsz-Wing Tong, 11-5, 11-9, 11-3 and will now take on Zeina Mickawy for a place in the third round of the coveted tournament.

Results:
[7] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [L] Jemyca Aribado (PHI) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-6 (25m)
[6] Joelle King (NZL) bt Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-9, 11-3 (27m)

Subramaniam Shocks Sobhy to Reach Last 32

Sivasangari Subramaniam (right) during her win over Amanda Sobhy (left)

Malaysia’s World No.48 Sivasangari Subramaniam claimed her first ever win over top 10 opposition after she came back from 2-1 down to upset No.8 seed Amanda Sobhy.

The 20-year-old put in some noteworthy performances at the U.S. Open earlier this month – beating England’s Alison Waters and testing World No.7 Sarah-Jane Perry – but she outlined her credentials as one to watch in the future with an 9-11, 11-9, 6-11, 12-10, 11-6 triumph in 51 minutes.

Sobhy, whose father hails from Egypt, struggled from the beginning of the match and didn’t seem her usual self on court, but the World No.8 fought on to go 2-1 up and 6-1 up in the fourth.

But her energy levels dropped and she finally succumbed to fatigue as Subramaniam put her through her paces to come back and win the tie-break. She finally got the better of Sobhy in the decider to set up a round two encounter with World No.29 Milou van der Heijden.

The Malaysian puts her improvement down to new coach and former World Champion David Palmer, saying: “He’s really working on my movement and squash tactics.


“I think it's working, I'm happy with how I'm playing right now, so hopefully I can maintain and do better in the next round.

“It definitely means a lot to me getting the big win in my PSA career. I'm really happy today and I gave it all I could.

“I was 6-1 down in the fourth and then I just tried to push myself because I was doing too many errors. I tried to hang in there and I ended up getting the win.

“It's a once in a lifetime experience playing at the Pyramids, but I've got to get through tomorrow. If I can win tomorrow, it would be a really good result. This is definitely my best performance, beating a top 10 player. I just did my best, and I didn’t think about the possibility of playing in front of the Pyramids yet. If I get there, it would be my second time playing on an outdoor court, my first time was in Gouna.”

Meanwhile, 2018-19 runner-up Nour El Tayeb kickstarted her title assault with a comfortable 3-0 win over France’s Melissa Alves, winning 11-4, 11-3, 11-7 in 22 minutes.

“When I first saw the draw I thought that it was a tough first round,” El Tayeb said.
 
“I’m really glad I was able to win in three, she is coming up the rankings very quickly. I could see the difference from now and when we last played at the World Championships in February, she has improved a lot, but I’m very happy to come out with a win.
 
“Coincidentally we [Tayeb and Elaraby] just played in the quarter finals at the U.S. Open, so I know what to expect and I’m sure she does too. It’s going to be a tough match, Rowan is improving very quickly and I’m excited for the match.
 
“There is no unfinished business, it’s a new tournament and it’s a long way ahead to be thinking about winning the tournament. I’m thinking about the next round and looking forward to playing that.”

Results
Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) bt [8] Amanda Sobhy (USA) 3-2: 9-11, 11-9, 6-11, 12-10, 11-6 (51m)
[5] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Melissa Alves (FRA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-3, 11-7 (22m)

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