Egypt’s World No.28 Nour El Tayeb caused one of the upsets of the day at the Club S Allegria as she overcame No.7 seed Salma Hany in four games to reach the last 16 of the PSA World Championships Cairo.
It is El Tayeb’s first PSA World Championship appearance since giving birth to her daughter, Farida, last July and the former World No.3 continued to mark her return to squash action with yet another impressive performance.
2019 World Championship finalist El Tayeb edged a tight first game between the two Egyptians, before Hany hit back to grind out 11-9 in the second and get back on level terms. El Tayeb stepped it up a gear in the third and fourth though, as she produced a dazzling display of accurate hitting to close out 12-10, 9-11, 11-3, 11-3 in 44 minutes.
“At the start of the match, it felt like I didn’t have any structure in my squash and lately, the structure is what gives me the confidence and allows me to settle,” said El Tayeb afterwards.
“I don’t know why but in the third, I switched and managed to go short and then when I got five, six points, I saw it was working, and I felt more confident.
“Neither of us wanted to lose the Worlds in the second round, there was so much at stake for both of us. Maybe a bit of experience, a little bit of belief and confidence in the third and fourth carried me to the win.”
Courtesy of that win, El Tayeb will take on Malaysia’s World No.20 Sivasangari Subramaniam after she also got the better of a higher seeded opponent, beating Egypt’s Nadine Shahin 11-9, 11-9, 11-9 in just 25 minutes.
The upsets continued to come on the traditional courts in the women’s draw as World No.24 Sabrina Sobhy came out on top in all-American battle with World No.10 Olivia Fiechter to book her place in the third round.
Fiechter led early in the first game, only to be continually frustrated by Sobhy’s remarkable powers of recovery as the quick-footed 25-year-old covered all four corners expertly to take the opening game 12-10.
25-year-old Sobhy then powered her way to a 2-0 lead, before Fiechter pushed hard in the third but was unable to find a way through as Sobhy set up a third-round encounter with England’s Sarah-Jane Perry, following her win over France’s Melissa Alves.
“I’m very pleased with how I played and stuck to my game plan the entire match,” said Sobhy afterwards. “It was very close and tight. I’ve grown up playing her and I know how dangerous she can be and she has that admirable grit where she never gives up. I knew that if I eased up at all it could change in a second. I was pleased to stay strong that entire time.”
Elsewhere, defending champion Nour El Sherbini was forced to recover from an uncomfortable start to beat wildcard Kenzy Ayman in the opening match on the glass court.
18-year-old World No.79 Ayman, who beat World No.29 Jasmine Hutton in the first round, caused El Sherbini no end of problems early on in the match, with her unconventional swing and aggressive positioning throwing the World No.2 off her game as she took a shock one-game lead.
The former World No.1 managed to find her rhythm to take the second and third games, before sneaking out a hard fought 11-9 win in the fourth to advance at the tournament which she has won five times.
“I definitely [didn’t expect this performance],” said the Alexandrian afterwards. It was my first time playing her and the first time I’d seen her play. A wildcard and upsetting in the first round. I think she’s being getting a lot of good results, winning tournaments.
“She didn’t show any fear or any inexperience playing on the glass court, especially outdoors. I was definitely surprised, but I’m glad I had a little more experience than her to sneak every couple of points in each game.”
El Sherbini will face Belgium’s Tinne Gilis in the next round following her victory over Canada’s Hollie Naughton on the traditional courts. The two players have met twice already this season, with El Sherbini winning both in thrilling five-game battles.
In the men’s draw, World No.2 Ali Farag led the top seeds into the last 16 stage of the sport’s biggest tournament as he battled through a tricky first game to conquer Mexico’s Cesar Salazar 13-11, 11-1, 11-9 in 31 minutes.
Next up for Farag will be talented Egyptian Youssef Ibrahim after he was forced to do things the hard way on the traditional courts at the Club S Allegria, coming from two games down against Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi to triumph in 64 minutes.
“I’ve experienced all sorts of things before going on court. I don’t think I was necessarily slow off the blocks,” said Farag following his win. “It’s just that I wanted to play with intensity, but my fault was going too short, too early. I should have found my corners in the back first. But once I found my groove, I think I played well. My short game can still be better and in the third I tried it, but you can’t try it against Cesar, he’s going to kill you off. Thankfully I was able to pull that one back.”
After his match, Ibrahim said: “When I was down 2-0 down, I was thinking I don’t want to lose 3-0, my family is there. I still believed I could win the match and at no point in the match, did I think I couldn’t win because I was playing well.”
Meanwhile, No.4 seed Mostafa Asal staked his claim for World Championship glory as he eased past former World No.3 Omar Mosaad, 11-5, 11-3, 11-4 in 33 minutes.
The 2021 U.S. Open winner was full of confidence as he comfortably moved around the court to blitz away his opponent and secure a last 16 place against India’s Saurav Ghosal, following his win over USA’s Todd Harrity.
“I’m super proud that I’m playing in front of my country and my friends,” said Asal afterwards. “It gives me lots of confidence and I have won finals on this court. Step-by-step, match-by-match, I’m going to focus on the next one.”
Round three of the PSA World Championships Cairo takes place tomorrow (May 17) and play will be split across two glass courts, one at the Club S Allegria and the new venue of the Egyptian National Museum of Civilization. Action starts at 18:45 (GMT+2) and will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV.