Reigning women’s World Champion Nour El Sherbini made her long-awaited return to action with a dominant win over New Zealand’s Joelle King to put herself in the driving seat in Group A of the CIB PSA World Tour Finals.
The Egyptian – who won this event in 2018 – was appearing at a PSA World Tour event for the first time since she finished runner-up at the CIB Black Ball Open in March having opted to sit out of the return of professional squash at the Manchester Open earlier this month.
But, following a season that was disrupted by injury and illness, the break looks to have done El Sherbini some good as ‘The Warrior Princess’ came storming out of the traps to take maximum points at the Mall of Arabia on day one.
The form book was in El Sherbini’s favour – with 10 wins to King’s one – and she punished the Kiwi on the backhand side in particular to complete an 11-9, 11-1 victory in 22 minutes, meaning she claims four points out of four.
“It’s definitely good to be back and I think there is no better place to start my season than in my home country,” said El Sherbini.
“It’s a very hard first tournament to play. I’m playing the top eight in the world and it could be a final in any match, so it’s very hard to start like this. We’re playing in a group, there are four of us and we have to win two of them [to qualify for the semis].
“If there are two of us they work it out by games, so I’ve started well with four points and hopefully after tomorrow it will be even better.”
Due to COVID-19 protocols in place at the Mall of Arabia, the venue can only allow in 50% of its capacity, meaning it is the first tournament since the restart to allow fans in to watch the live squash.
“The crowd really means a lot to us and it gives us a huge push and motivates us a lot to keep going and playing. It’s a huge opportunity for us to play in front of them and hopefully we’re going to have a good tournament for them and they will enjoy the rest of this week.”
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 2-0: 11-9, 11-1 (22m)