Day One Evening : As It Happened

It’s day one of the CIB PSA World Championships 2023/24, as the action continues with four more matches from the glass court.

Today’s play kicked off across four side courts at the Palm Hills Club, with the final four matches of day one on the all-glass court.

Gilis Sees Off Stefanoni

World No.4 Nele Gilis held off a spirited display from American Marina Stefanoni to advance to round two.

The pair had faced each other twice previously on the World Tour, with Gilis coming out on top on both occasions.

Gilis drew first blood by taking the first 11-7 but Stefanoni, who had never taken a game off the Belgian No.1, levelled the match after finding success in driving the ball into the back corners to take the second 11-9.

But Gilis stepped up after losing the second, as she stepped up and convincingly took the third 11-4 before sealing the victory with an 11-6 success in the fourth to advance to round two.

“It’s nerve-racking to get that first match out of the way and I’m relieved to be through. She’s a very tricky opponent [Marina Stefanoni], she’s very talented and I’m looking forward to the next round and I’m excited to go as deep as possible,” Gilis said.

“She’s a tough opponent and she was finding her marks and I wasn’t quite finding my marks so it was difficult for me. But all credit to her she deserved it for sure.

“I’m managing a few things at the moment and I slipped a couple of times in the first set so that was on my mind a little bit and I’ve got to get it out of my head.

“She’s a very tough opponent [Torrie Malik] and so strong. I played her in Germany and it wasn’t easy but I’m looking forward to it.”

Result: [4] Nele Gilis (BEL) bt Marina Stefanoni (USA) 3-1: 11-7, 9-11, 11-4, 11-6 (61m)

Farag Comes From Behind to Beat Harrity

Ali Farag (left) takes on Todd Harrity (right)
Ali Farag (left) takes on Todd Harrity (right)

World No.1 Ali Farag began his title defence with victory over USA’s Todd Harrity, but he didn’t have things all his own way as he came back from a game behind.

Farag will surpass the legendary Amr Shabana on five PSA World Championship titles if he wins this week in Cairo, but he got off to an inauspicious start against Harrity, conceding the first game by an 11-8 margin.

The American raced out of the blocks, hitting a consistent dying length and storming into a 6-0 lead. Farag, who competed with Harrity on the college squash circuit, made a late charge, but Harrity kept him at bay to take a surprise one-game advantage.

Farag took control in the second game though and dominated the front of the court to draw level for the loss of three points, while he built on a 9-0 advantage in the third game to go ahead in the match for the first time.

Harrity tested Farag in the opening stages of the fourth, but the reigning World Champion wasn’t to be denied and he closed out an 8-11, 11-3, 11-1, 11-5 victory to set up a second round match with Scotland’s Greg Lobban.

“I’m not sure if it was a slow start or an immaculate start from his side,” said Farag.

“Yesterday the court conditions were completely different, it was windy and a lot colder than today. I hit the ball the same way today and it sat up big time because it was warmer. He adapted much better and then starting from 6-0 down I got into the groove.

“I was standing in front of him for most of the game but I wasn’t using the front two corners until I got used to the court. When you give someone of Todd’s calibre a 6-0 headstart it’s very hard to comeback, but I think I used that momentum all the way to the end.

“Karim [Darwish] told me not to take any risks and to find my weight of shot. I think it was [Amr] Shabana who told me when I first started on the tour to take the game into stages, start with length hitting first, hit the back corners with angles, and then go to the front corners. I had Shabana’s and Darwish’s advice, so it couldn’t get any better.

“There is pressure, you play this sport because you want to achieve the pinnacle of it, and the World Champs is that. I want to win it, but not any more than any other player, so it’s a good kind of pressure and I hope I can take it positively into the next match.”

Harrity said: “I figured I’m playing the World No.1, there is nothing to lose. Sometimes when you are playing the top players, there is no choice than to play well.

“I went on the court thinking I had to be super sharp, very clinical, really tight, with tight drives, wide cross courts, and do anything I could to keep him behind me. If he got in front of me, that would be it, lights out, game over. I was really sharp at the start, I couldn’t believe it. 

“I played well and he was a bit sloppy. I went 6-0 up and then after that, he kicked into gear and started playing really well. It was tough to win points after that.”


[1] Ali Farag (EGY) bt Todd Harrity (USA) 3-1: 8-11, 11-3, 11-1, 11-5 (38m)

Defending Champion El Sherbini Makes Successful Start To Title Defence

Seven-time World Champion Nour El Sherbini emphatically kicked off her title defence with a comprehensive straight games win over Jessica Turnbull.

In what was the pair’s first-ever meeting on the PSA World Tour, El Sherbini dominated throughout all three games against the Australian to book her place in round two.

El Sherbini was clinical throughout, which was evident from the first game as the defending champion won 11-0.

The Egyptian was looking sharp as she doubled her match lead in just 12 minutes, clinching the second 11-4 before winning by the same scoreline in the third to confirm her place in the next round.

“I finally made a good start,” said El Sherbini.

“I’m a slow starter, but I’m really happy with my performance today. I started strong, I’ve been looking forward to this tournament and I hope I carry on playing like I did today.

“I don’t want to put any pressure on myself. It’s another tournament, another one in Egypt, so I’m going to stay motivated and take the support from the crowd.

“This is my first time ever at Palm Hills and it’s another amazing place to be. The gym and the court is perfect for us. It’s amazing to have all the kids coming to watch us and this is what you want for our sport.”

Turnbull said: “She’s got that aura about her, she is so good and has been a top player since she was growing up as a junior. I watched her grow up, and I knew what I was up against. So yes, it is incredibly frustrating, because you try to do what you do at your own level, but I’m 60 in the world, she is number 1. The difference is quite big.

“I had a team mate coaching me and she was saying to try and take my opportunities’ and I was trying! I was doing my best and I was a bit unfortunate to get the bagel.

“It’s my first World Championship and I’ve been on the tour for quite a while and to finally make it to the pinnacle event is quite exciting. The positive to take out of here is I made it here. I got a bit of a rough draw, but I am one of the bottom seeds so it’s logical that I’d play one of the top.”

[1] Nour ElSherbini (EGY) bt Jessica Turnbull (AUS) 3-0: 11-0, 11-4, 11-4 (19m)

Elias Cruises Into Round Two

Diego Elias cruised his way into the second round after downing Abdulla Al Tamimi 3-0 in the final match of the opening day.

The Peruvian, who reached the quarter finals at last year’s event, defeated the Qatari in 30 minutes to confirm his place in the second round.

Elias was quick out of the blocks, producing a complete performance in the opening game as he triumphed 11-2.

The World No.4 quickly nudged two games ahead with another clinical display, dominating the middle of the court throughout and left no loose balls for Al Tamimi to try and find his way back into the contest.

Al Tamimi got the desired start to a crucial third game, but his lead was quickly gone when Elias got back on top and closed out and 11-6 success.

[3] Diego Elias (PER) bt Abdulla Al-Tamimi (QAT) 3-0: 11-2, 11-3, 11-6 (30m)