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Sarah-Jane Perry in action against Nele Gilis

Black Ball Open RD3: England's Perry Books Quarters Place

England’s World No.7 Sarah-Jane Perry has reached her first quarter final at the CIB Black Ball Squash Open after she defeated Belgium’s World No.18 Nele Gilis in straight games at the PSA Platinum tournament.

Perry, who was knocked out by India’s Joshna Chinappa in the last 16 at last year’s event, displayed a controlled performance to take a two game lead against the 24-year-old Belgian.

The last time the two players, who both train with coach Rob Owen, met was at the 2020 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions back in January, where Gilis really pushed Perry in a tight first game and the Belgian showed glimpses of that in the third as she began to implement her style of play on the tall Englishwoman to save two match balls.

However, it was not enough to halt the charge of Perry, who used her experience to close out 11-7, 11-5, 12-10 in 38 minutes, with the ball being called out on the final point to end a frustrating day for Gilis.

“I think to get off 3-0 against Nele is a really good performance,” said Perry afterwards.

“She pushed me in that third game. I thought I had good control in the first two and I was trying to attack and move the ball around to make the court big, twist and turn her.

“There were going to be a few errors, so I just needed to make sure there were more winners than errors. I got dragged into her game a bit in the third and she upped her level a bit, so I’m pleased to get off in three and get through to another quarter final tomorrow.

“We’ve trained a bit together now. I’m based there full time and Nele and Paul [Coll] come over a bit when they’ve got chance. It’s interesting because I can learn things from her game and she can learn things from my game, but actually we have polar opposite games in a lot of ways. I see it as a positive as she’s really great to train with and very professional. We have played a couple of times this year now since she started working with Rob [Owen] and have played some good matches.

“I think I’ve been reasonably consistent so far this year. I’ve not lost to many players ranked outside the top ten, which is testament to the level I’ve been playing. Last few weeks I haven’t been playing as well as I would have liked and been relying a bit on grit along the way, so now I’m trying to work my way into playing how I want to, which is definitely what I was doing today.”

[7] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [14] Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 12-10 (38m)

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