Egypt’s World No.5 Nour El Tayeb took out defending champion and World No.1 Raneem El Welily in a thrilling five-game battle in Cairo, Egypt to reach the semi-finals of the CIB Black Ball Squash Open.
It will be El Tayeb’s first semi-final at a PSA World Tour Platinum event since October’s U.S. Open, after she put in a confident display to take out El Welily, who beat Nour El Sherbini last year to win the inaugural title.
Both players pushed each other to their limits with the momentum of the match constantly swinging between the two talented Egyptians in the gruelling 72 minute clash.
El Tayeb, who recently won the Cleveland Classic PSA Bronze title, has suffered early round exits at the two previous Platinum events, but ensured she produced a performance of the highest calibre against the World No.1 in front of her home crowd in Cairo to come from 2-1 down and win 11-9, 9-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-9.
“She is the World No.1 and is one of my role models growing up,” said El Tayeb afterwards. “It’s easy to prepare for this match because there is very little pressure on me and I can’t believe I won. Every game and every point I was happy to be there because I am in a major quarter final for the first time in so long.
“After I won the first game, I thought that’s good progress, a week ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of taking a game off Raneem, so I told myself, if you lose the second game, it doesn’t matter. And that helped me to keep pushing.”
El Tayeb will face reigning World Champion El Sherbini for a place in the final after she axed France’s Coline Aumard in straight-games to reach her fourth semi-final of the season.
Nour El Sherbini
Aumard, who was featuring in her first Platinum quarter final, was unable to prevent the charge of an in-form El Sherbini, who showed no signs of losing any momentum from her Windy City Open victory last week as she powered to an 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 win.
“Coline has been playing really well this tournament and has taken out two of the top Egyptian players,” said El Sherbini. “I was just trying to play my game and she was just coming back strong every game, so I’m really pleased to be in the semi-finals.
“It’s my fourth tournament and making it through to the semi-finals is really big for me and I’m really happy with my performance.
“It’s really hard mentally and physically [to play two Platinum events in a row]. My knee injury is not 100 per cent so to play two tournaments back to back is very hard to recover in between but I’m trying my best.”
The other semi-final will see England’s No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry take on Egypt’s World No.10 Hania El Hammamy after they claimed respective wins over Egypt’s Nada Abbas and USA No.1 Amanda Sobhy.
19-year-old El Hammamy, who reached the semi-finals of the PSA Women’s World Championship earlier this season, secured a big upset against France’s World No.3 Camille Serme in the last 16 and further backed that up today with a confident performance against Sobhy.
Hania El Hammamy
“It’s a second semi-final for me in a World Series tournament,” said El Hammamy afterwards. “It feels like a dream to be playing against all of the top players. I feel like I’m competing against them really well and pushing them hard, so it really feels good.
“Amanda is a very attacking player and she likes to hunt the volley. I wanted to escape that as much as I can, so I tried so hard to keep running and get every point because whenever I gave her an easy shot, she would go short.”
Meanwhile Perry, who has not dropped a game so far this week in Cairo, reached the last four at the Windy City Open in Chicago and will once again feature in a semi-final after she put in a professional performance to take out the unseeded Abbas.
Perry took a tight first game on the tie-break, with Abbas showing glimpses of having the potential to create an upset, however following that breakthrough for Perry she was able to cement her game plan and control the pace of the match to close out comfortably 12-10, 11-7, 11-3 in 31 minutes.
“Me and Nada have only played once before and that was a couple of years ago and she has improved so much, so I didn’t come into this one taking her lightly at all.
“There were a few more errors than I would have liked but I know that the way I play, there is always going to be a few errors. I just tried to stay focused and take the middle away from her and not let her wind up because she can be lethal.
“I watched Hania’s match against Camille [Serme] yesterday and their one in Chicago last week, she has been playing some fantastic squash and getting some really good results. She’s definitely earned that spot in the top ten and I don’t think she will be leaving there for a while. Hopefully it will be a battle of youth v experience and hopefully I come out on top.”
The semi-finals will take place on Friday March 13 at 19:00 local time (GMT+2) and the action will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour (Indian Subcontinent only).
Tickets for the event are available via: blackballsquashopen.com. In the meantime, fans can stay up-to-date will all the latest news from the tournament by visiting blackballsquashopen.com or following the Black Ball Open on Twitter,Facebook and Instagram.
Results: CIB Black Ball Squash Open – Quarter Finals
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt  Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-2: 11-9, 9-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-9 (72m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Coline Aumard (FRA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 (27m)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Amanda Sobhy (USA) 3-1: 11-6, 6-11, 11-5, 11-8 (40m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Nada Abbas (EGY) 3-0: 12-10, 11-7, 11-3 (31m)
Draw: CIB Black Ball Squash Open – Semi-finals – To be played March 13
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)