Australia’s World No.36 Donna Lobban secured a straight-games win over Hong Kong’s Tze Lok Ho to advance in Cairo, Egypt, while Belgium’s Tinne Gilis also advanced on the traditional courts at the Black Ball Sporting Club.
Lobban, who won the Edinburgh Open title last month, started in dominant form to comfortably take the first game by an 11-3 margin before finding herself facing an uphill battle in the second as Tze-Lok grew in confidence.
The Hong Kong player found her rhythm in the second to power to a 7-2 lead and then a 9-5 advantage before Lobban showcased her resilience to fight back and claim a crucial second game to double her advantage before going on to take the match 11-3, 11-9, 11-8.
Lobban will face former World Junior Champion Rowan Elaraby in the next round.
“The second game was so important,” said Lobban.
“She was really growing in confidence at that point and if the match is 1-1 then she is going to be feeling pretty good, so to go 2-0 up after being way down in the second is crucial from a mental perspective. The third game can be really brutal sometimes if it’s 1-1 and you’re fighting for that advantage, so it was really important to sneak that game. To know in matches that you are never and down and out is important.
“I’m feeling really good, it’s nice that the hard work I’ve been doing to come back has been paying off. There’s always a point where you’re coming back from an injury that big that you wonder whether you will be able to come back. Everyone else is improving all the time and you’re just trying to get back to where you were, let alone catch up to where everyone else is. You wonder if you are going to be good enough still, so it’s nice to come back and be able to win matches and try to get as far as I can in tournaments. Every win means something to me, after not being able to play squash for so long, you ride that feeling of being thankful to be there.
“It’s amazing to have a standalone Platinum event for women. It’s testament to women’s squash and how much it deserves this and to see that it has the support from sponsors is fantastic. I’m sure it’s going to keep growing. It’s awesome to be here in Egypt where they have so many amazing players and see how much they are supported, it’s so good to see and hopefully we see more of this kind of thing.”
Meanwhile, Belgium’s Gilis, who broke into the top 20 for the first time in her career this month, secured a comfortable 11-4, 11-7, 11-2 victory over Hong Kong’s Liu Tsz-Ling to set up a second round encounter with World No.5 Nour El Tayeb.
“It was my first time playing her, but I had seen her play against Nele a few times, and it always went to five,” said Gilis afterwards.
“I was expecting a long and difficult match. But I was surprised as she didn’t seem to really push or try. We had a few long rallies, and I told myself to keep them going, trying to tire her, keeping the ball in play, focusing on playing my game. In the third, that’s exactly what happened, at 3-1 up, we had a really tough one, which I won, and she didn’t score another point until 10-1. I’m really happy to take that one.”
Donna Lobban (AUS) bt Tze Lok Ho (HKG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-9, 11-8 (23m)
Tinne Gilis (BEL) bt Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-7, 11-2 (19m)