Top seeds Raneem El Welily and Nouran Gohar both prevailed to reach the last eight after they secured 3-0 wins over the Netherlands’ Milou van der Heijden and Canada’s Danielle Letourneau, respectively.
El Welily, who is the defending champion, got her title defence off to the perfect start as she smoothly despatched World No.32 van der Heijden in straight games and will now face compatriot and World No.14 Salma Hany in the next round after she defeated Nada Abbas on the side courts.
“I’m definitely happy to start the tournament with a 3-0 win against Milou,” said El Welily afterwards.
“She’s skilled with the racket and has such great technique and you could see she has got different plans and tactics on court. She definitely worked me on court and I’m hoping that I can continue that form on here tomorrow.
“I’ve had good memories here and bad ones, I’m just going with the flow and seeing what happens but hopefully it will be a good memory.”
No.2 seed and 2019 British Open champion Gohar also picked up from where she left off last season with her good form as she comfortably claimed a 3-0 victory over Canada’s Letourneau to reach the quarter finals.
The three-time China Open runner-up will face compatriot Yathreb Adel in the next round after she came from 2-0 down to upset the seedings and knock out England’s Victoria Lust.
“I’m always looking forward to this tournament,” said World No.4 Gohar.
“You don’t get a lot of chances to stay in such a beautiful hotel and such a prestigious one. The venue is one of the best in the world and I have great memories here.
Nouran Gohar (left) v Danielle Letourneau (right)
“It’s the first tournament of the year so that makes it extra special as well because you want to prove yourself and see how the summer training has paid off.
“I’ve been in the final three times so I hope I can break a little bit. It’s just one match at a time, I’m in the quarter finals which I’m really happy about and I’m just looking forward to the next match and we will see what happens next.”
Continuing the good form for the Egyptians in Shanghai were World No.5 Nour El Tayeb, World No.15 Hania El Hammamy and World No.23 Nadine Shahin.
El Tayeb cruised past Australia’s former World No.1 Rachael Grinham in just 19 minutes to book her place in the quarter finals. While El Hammamy and Shahin both overcame higher-ranked opposition to reach the last eight stage.
World Junior champion El Hammamy held her nerve to hold off a comeback from Hong Kong’s World No.10 Annie Au, with the two playing out an entertaining battle on the side courts, which eventually went in the favour of the young Egyptian.
“I’m happy with this win,” said El Hammamy afterwards. “I played Annie once last season and I lost in three in 20 minutes, so I came here today and I wanted to do my best and perform better than last time. I definitely had a game plan compared to last time and I’m happy I managed to stick to that.
“I’m starting the season with confidence. Finishing last season at my highest ranking has just given me more confidence and I’m hungry for more.”
El Hammamy will face the only non-Egyptian left in the women’s draw – New Zealand’s Joelle King – for a place in the semi-finals after the World No.6 battled back from 2-1 down against World No.20 Zeina Mickawy to advance at the tournament.
“First tournament of the season, I think everyone comes in not really knowing where they sit,” said King afterwards.
“Everyone puts in a lot of work over the summer and it’s the first challenge of the season so I’m really pleased. Probably more with my mental performance – Zeina is one of the up and coming players who has such an amazing raw game and I had to dig really deep to come back from 8-4 down in the fourth.
“Over the summer, Laura Massaro has actually come on board, as someone who I work with alongside Hadrian [Stiff] and I actually drew a little bit of inspiration from her. I’ve been on the backend of many matches against her where she has come back and beaten me and I think I just tried to dig out some experience.”
Action from the quarter finals of the J.P. Morgan China Squash Open takes place at 15:00 local time (GMT+8) tomorrow (Friday September 6) at the SECA Academy before play moves to the glass court in the evening at the Peninsula Shanghai.
Picture by Alex Broadway/SWpix.com