Egypt’s Salma Eltayeb and England’s Katie Malliff will meet in the semi-finals of the Odense Open, the first qualifying event for the 2021-2022 PSA World Championships in Cairo, after downing higher-ranked players in their respective last eight contests.
Malliff came into her quarter final full of confidence, having already caused upsets to knock out Egypt’s Kenzy Ayman and Nour Aboulmakarim, the latter of which being the No.5 seed for the competition.
She faced another Egyptian in the last eight, in No.4 seed Menna Hamed, and after starting well in the first game, the Englishwoman saw her opponent come from behind to take the first and hold the advantage in the match.
The 18-year-old fought back though, and after taking both the second and third games, she then held a comfortable lead in the fourth before Hamed went down with an injury. After a 15-minute pause in play, the Egyptian returned to the court, but Malliff was able to keep her composure to wrap up the win, and move through to the semi-finals.
“I was really pleased with how I played. [It was] my first match on the glass court, so I was a bit worried because I wasn’t used to it, but it felt really good and I got used to it really quickly,” Malliff said.
“I was a little bit frustrated because I think I was 7-3 up [in the first game] so I was a bit disappointed. The first few points, I was really getting stuck in and volleying loads, but then I just stopped doing, and she started to play better.
Katie Malliff (left) on court with Menna Hamed (right) in Odense
“I am really looking forward to it. I haven’t played her [Eltayeb] for about two years so both of our games have probably changed a little bit, hopefully improved. It will be another tough match but I am looking forward to it!”
Malliff will now face Salma Eltayeb in the last four of the Challenger 10 level tournament at the Odense Squash Club, after the Egyptian came back from behind to take out the No.2 seed in the women’s draw, Julianne Courtice.
The 17-year-old found herself a game down in quick time, as she took just a single point in the opening game. However, from there she was able to fight back to win the second, before then clinching the third on a tie-break. An 11-9 scoreline in the fourth saw Eltayeb take the win, to advance to the last four in Odense.
“I am feeling so happy. It was my first time playing Julianne and she is so good. I was worried because she is more experienced than me, so it was worrying to play someone like that,” Eltayeb admitted.
“But then, I felt like I was getting into the match and feeling myself getting more and more confident on court. I then started to get in front and that made me more and more confident as well!
“After the first game, I knew I shouldn’t put so much pressure on myself because she is the No.2 seed and she is expected to win, so I didn’t need to pressure myself. I just had to play my squash and to be confident, and that’s what I did.”
There was also an upset in the men’s event, as England’s Sam Todd, the No.6 seed for the event, defeated the draw’s No.3 seed, Egypt’s Yahya Elnawasany, in a five-game battle which lasted exactly an hour.
The young Englishman came in to the match as the underdog, but played well throughout, holding the lead on two occasions after winning both the first and third games of their contest. The Egyptian levelled twice, but it was Todd who was able to take the win in the fifth, to set up a clash with India’s Mahesh Mangaonkar, the top seed, in the semis on Friday evening.
Sam Todd (fore) during his semi-final with Yahya Elnawasany (back)
“I am over the moon. It’s my first win over Yahya, and we have played since juniors, from when I was under-13s,” he explained.
“I have had a couple of five-gamers with him as well, so when I was ahead in that fifth game, I was never comfortable because he is so good with the racket. I know he can fire off winners, so I was just over the moon to get it done with and I am excited for tomorrow!”
The other women’s semi-final will see top seed Alexandra Fuller take on No.7 seed Malak Khafagy for a place in Saturday’s final. Hungarian No.1 Balazs Farkas downed Argentina’s Leandro Romiglio in a 90-minute battle to make the other men’s semi-final, where he will face USA’s Faraz Khan.
The Odense Open continues on Friday, March 4, with quarter final action starting at 17:00 (GMT+1). All the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV.
Men’s Quarter Final Results: Odense Open
 Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) bt  Juan Camilo Vargas (COL) 3-0: 11-6, 11-9, 11-4 (36m)
 Sam Todd (ENG) bt  Yahya Elnawasany (EGY) 3-2: 11-7, 7-11, 11-8, 3-11, 11-6 (60m)
Balazs Farkas (HUN) bt Leandro Romiglio (ARG) 3-2: 9-11, 11-7, 13-11, 9-11, 12-10 (90m)
 Faraz Khan (USA) bt  Robert Downer (ENG) 3-1: 6-11, 11-8, 11-6, 12-10 (73m)
Men’s Semi-Final Draws: Odense Open (To Be Played Friday, March 4)
 Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) v  Sam Todd (ENG)
Balazs Farkas (HUN) v  Faraz Khan (USA)
Women’s Quarter Final Results: Odense Open
 Alexandra Fuller (RSA) bt Marta Dominguez Fernandez (ESP) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-8 (29m)
 Malak Khafagy (EGY) bt Anna Kimberley (ENG) 3-1: 9-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-6 (49m)
Katie Malliff (ENG) bt  Menna Hamed (EGY) 3-1: 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-5 (57m)
 Salma Eltayeb (EGY) bt  Julianne Courtice (ENG) 3-1: 1-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9 (38m)
Women’s Semi-Final Draws: Odense Open (To Be Played Friday, March 4)
 Alexandra Fuller (RSA) v  Malak Khafagy (EGY)
Katie Malliff (ENG) v  Salma Eltayeb (EGY)