Round Three Roundup

Sublime El Tayeb comes from behind to down third seed El Hammamy

Former World No.3 Nour El Tayeb put in her finest performance since returning to the PSA World Tour to come from a game down to beat CIB Black Ball Open No.3 seed Hania El Hammamy.

In an opening game dominated by long rallies, El Hammamy recovered from a difficult start to take a one-game lead with an 11-9 win.

El Tayeb came back well in the second, keeping the ball away from El Hammamy’s dangerous cross-court shots by targeting the back and pouncing on any errors. The 29-year-old took the second game 11-8 before repeating the scoreline to take a one-game lead.

In the fourth, El Tayeb’s wide array of shots was on display and she attacked from around the court, drawing particular applause from the crowd and onlooking husband and World No.2 Ali Farag with a shot straight down the middle that caught El Hammamy cold.

While El Hammamy attempted to target the front of the court, too often her shots were tentative, failing to beat El Tayeb’s reflexes.

As the match approached the hour mark, both players put everything into the late stages of the fourth game. From 8-8, the game and match were delightfully poised, until eventually El Tayeb was able to break through with a fantastic attacking boast to take the game 11-9 and the match 3-1.

El Tayeb will look to keep her stunning run going when she faces compatriot and No.8 seed Rowan Elaraby – who ended the thrilling run of wildcard Jana Shiha – in the last eight tomorrow.

After the match, El Tayeb paid tribute to the support of her family, particularly after returning to the tour after becoming a mother for the first time: “I could go on for hours about how hard it is [to come back after giving birth] but having my family to support me is the key.

“I wouldn’t have been able to come back and train every day as hard as I have wanted without my husband, my mum, my dad and my sisters. Everyone around me has been pushing me, obviously there are days when there is no motivation to go out and train.

“On so many days I am not motivated to train, but I’m glad I kept pushing and I’ve had Ali pushing me every day at home to keep training. It definitely helps and I’m very excited to be in the quarter finals.”

While El Hammamy was the first seed to fall today, she was not the last. In the day’s final match – which came earlier than originally scheduled due to Olivia Fiechter’s withdrawal following a pre-match injury – England’s Georgina Kennedy beat Egyptian No.7 seed Salma Hany in a thrilling encounter to reach her second Platinum quarter final in as many months.

24-year-old Kennedy, who reached the last eight in February’s Windy City Open, continued her strong form in a match that pitted her dazzling speed against Hany’s attacking prowess.

In the pair’s first-ever meeting on tour, the match ebbed and flowed as each player tried to get a measure of their opponent.

World No.11 Kennedy took the first game 11-9, only for Hany to strike back in the second by the same scoreline, much to the delight of the vocal home support.

While Kennedy had made the mistake of allowing Hany too many opportunities to strike clean volleys in the second game, in the third she played tighter lines and forced some long and entertaining rallies. This proved an effective tactic, as the Englishwoman took yet another 11-9 win, before seeing out the final game 11-7 as Hany tired.

“I had to try and dig in there, and I’m really happy with the result and I’m really excited to be in the quarters again,” Kennedy said afterwards. “I think I’m lucky because [speed] has always come naturally to me. I do a lot of fitness work, a lot of conditioning, and I had to be so explosive today because Salma’s shots are perfect.”

Kennedy’s opponent in the quarter final will be World No.1 Nour El Sherbini, who survived a scare against World No.27 and Egyptian compatriot Hana Ramadan.

The top seed went one game down to the 24-year-old’s fearless brand of squash, but after staying on court after the first game for solo practice, rallied to take the following games 11-3, 11-6 and 11-5.

With World No.2 Nouran Gohar receiving a walkover to the quarter final due to Fiechter’s injury, El Sherbini must now win the event in order to keep her place as World No.1 in the April rankings.

In the other matches the USA’s No.4 seed Amanda Sobhy came through an exciting clash 3-2 against India’s Joshna Chinappa, while New Zealand’s No.6 seed Joelle King and England’s No.5 seed Sarah-Jane Perry recorded 3-0 victories over Nele Gilis and Nada Abbas.

2022 CIB Black Ball Squash Open PLATINUM - Round THREE
[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-1 Hana Ramadan (EGY)  10-12, 11-3, 11-6, 11-5 (36m)
[9/16] Georgina Kennedy (ENG) 3-1 [7] Salma Hany (EGY)  11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 11-7 (46m)

[8] Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 3-1 [WC] Jana Shiha (EGY)  13-11, 16-14, 5-11, 11-9 (61m)
[9/16] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-1 [3] Hania El Hammamy (EGY)  9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 (60m)

[4] Amanda Sobhy (USA) 3-2 [9/16] Joshna Chinappa (IND)  10-12, 11-5, 9-11, 11-5, 11-3 (49m)
[6] Joelle King (NZL) 3-0 [9/16] Nele Gilis (BEL)  11-6, 11-2, 11-7 (29m)

[5] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-0 Nada Abbas (EGY)  11-9, 11-7, 11-8 (30m)
[2] Nouran Gohar (Egypt) w/o Olivia Fiechter (USA)   Fiechter w/d injured