PSA Day Four Roundup

El Hammamy Beats Serme to Reach Black Ball Open Quarter Finals

Egypt’s World No.10 Hania El Hammamy came from a game down to beat France’s World No.3 Camille Serme and reach the quarter finals of the 2020 CIB Black Ball Squash Open in Cairo, Egypt.

The past two times the two players have faced each other have served up contenders for ‘Match of the Season’, with El Hammamy coming from two games down to win at the PSA Women’s World Championship in November and Serme winning a thrilling five-game battle in Chicago last week. And today, proved no different as El Hammamy and Serme displayed their athleticism and skilful prowess to impress the crowd gathered inside the Black Ball Sporting Club.

Serme got off to the better start, playing calm and composed squash to keep El Hammamy at bay and take the first game, before the Egyptian fought her way back into the tie in the second to level the scores.

Serme and El Hammamy demonstrated squash of the highest calibre in the third, but it was the World No.3 who broke away first to hold three game balls. However, El Hammamy showed her mental determination to save all three and push the third to a tie-break before duly converting her game ball on the second attempt to lead the match 2-1.

The two players continued to battle it out deep into the fourth with neither player able to take a big lead in the match. El Hammamy was the first to hold match ball but Serme kept pulling her back in each time until the 19-year-old Egyptian was able to convert on her third attempt to close out 9-11, 11-8, 13-11, 13-11 in 73 minutes.

“It was such a hard match mentally and physically,” said El Hammamy afterwards. “I’m so pleased to be able to beat one of the players in the top five. Playing Camille is always physical, we both like to run even if the shot is perfect, we still go for it and keep getting the balls back, so it’s always tough to play against her. The rallies never end.

“At the beginning, I was a bit nervous, I wanted to make sure I produced a good level of squash as I did in our last two matches, and I so wanted to win. But I never felt comfortable on there, I was struggling with my length, and made a lot of unforced errors.

“But from the second on, I was able to calm down, and stick to my game plan, which was very simple, stay away from her volley, and when I was managing that, things were a bit better.”

El Hammamy will face USA’s World No.8 Amanda Sobhy in the next round after she claimed a straight-games victory to come out on top against compatriot Olivia Blatchford Clyne.

“I knew she had a battle yesterday with Sabrina [Sobhy], but she’s so fit, so I knew that she would get everything and I just had to make sure that I was relentless in the pace,” said Sobhy.

“If you look at all of the other sports out there, you see a lot of disparity between the men and women in prize money and so to be a part of a sport that is really pushing the equal prize money and sees the value in having the men and women seen as equal in payment is truly huge for the sport. I think nowadays being one of those leading sports that is so progressive in equality is fantastic.”

Meanwhile, Serme’s compatriot Coline Aumard reached her maiden Platinum quarter final after she beat Egypt’s World No.49 Farida Mohamed in straight-games to set up a last eight clash with World Champion Nour El Sherbini.

The 30-year-old Frenchwoman, who was sporting heavy tape and bandages around her right leg, played with confidence and focus to claim an 11-5, 13-11, 11-7 victory in 34 minutes.

“I tried to forget who she was and which round I was in,” said Aumard afterwards. “I just tried to focus on rally after rally because if I felt the pressure or thought I was going to win then that’s when I can make a mistake and maybe not play the game that I wanted to play.

“Farida is a player that I follow the results of, she came with her mum to my club in Annecy, and I have the upmost respect for her. I believe that she is going to be very good, and I have a lot of time for her and I love the fact she has her own game.”

Elsewhere, World No.4 El Sherbini was firing on all cylinders as she took just 20 minutes to dispatch compatriot and World No.20 Nadine Shahin to reach her second successive Black Ball Open quarter final.

“Nadine had been playing really well from the start of the tournament,” said El Sherbini afterwards.

“You can see that when she has the opportunity, she kills any shot and she’s very fast to get everything back. I had to make sure that my shots were very good to make sure she doesn’t get them back.”

In the top half of the draw, Egypt’s World No.5 Nour El Tayeb and World No.1 Raneem El Welily will face off for a place in the semi-finals after El Tayeb avenged her Windy City Open defeat to Rowan Elaraby, while El Welily received a walkover due to her opponent, Yathreb Adel, having to withdraw from their match due to injury.

World No.21 Elaraby had proven to be El Tayeb’s kryptonite in the last few weeks with the 19-year-old condemning the World No.5 to an early round exit in Chicago and beating her at the Egyptian Nationals prior to that.

However, El Tayeb got her revenge on home soil in Cairo as she showed glimpses of being back to her best squash to reach her first major quarter final since the PSA Women’s World Championship in November.

“I don’t think I was dealing with it as playing Rowan, who is No.21 in the world, I was dealing with it as though I was playing a top ten player,” said El Tayeb afterwards. “It was very hard, you could see in the last game she let loose with the racket a little bit, but she was still very tough to beat.

“I was very focused from the beginning and I’m very happy to be through to the quarter final, it’s my first major quarter final for five months.”

The other quarter final will see England’s No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry take on Egypt’s World No.27 Nada Abbas after the latter received a late walkover into the last eight due to World No.2 Nouran Gohar having to pull out of their match due to a foot injury.

Perry, meanwhile, displayed a controlled performance to take out Belgium’s World No.18 Nele Gilis in straight-games in the first match of the day.

“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.”