Three years on from becoming the first female squash players in history to contest a final in front of Cairo’s spectacular Great Pyramid of Giza, World No.1 Raneem El Welily and World No.4 Nour El Sherbini will once again go head-to-head at one of the most iconic locations in global sport after the Egyptian duo booked their places in the final of the CIB PSA Women’s World Championship earlier today.
El Welily and El Sherbini have been the pre-eminent players on the women’s tour over the intervening three years and have already met in two World Championship finals since their 2016 Al Ahram Open final clash. El Sherbini won the first of those in El Gouna when they met in the final of the 2016 edition, while El Welily avenged that defeat in Manchester in 2017.
El Welily beat El Sherbini in five games in that Al Ahram final, and the 30-year-old continued her 100 per cent record in front of the last remaining wonder of the ancient world as she came back from a game down to beat the in-form Nouran Gohar.
An error-strewn first game from El Welily handed Gohar the lead, but an onslaught of attacking squash from the world’s leading female player saw her come back to book her fourth World Championship final berth.
“I was sharp, I was prepared, I knew what I was doing but it just wasn’t working the way I wanted,” said El Welily.
“She was on fire obviously, but I’m very pleased to back it up in the second game and to manage to find a way somehow and not look back. She hits it hard and now she lobs as well. She’s varying the pace and mixing it up, so it’s not about the hard hitting anymore, it’s about adjusting to whatever she is firing at you.
“Her variety of shots has gotten so much better than last season, even though last season she was playing well. She’s playing well this season and I’m just pleased to be through. Thanks to the preparation of my coaches, I was able to prepare well today. It’s a big crowd today and quite a few friends and family members [in the audience] as well.”
Meanwhile, El Sherbini will celebrate her 24th birthday with a sixth World Championship final appearance as she aims to become the fourth woman to win four World Championship titles.
El Sherbini – who is the third woman to reach a fifth successive World Championship after the legendary Nicol David and Susan Devoy – is appearing at her first PSA Tour event of the season after shrugging off a knee injury, and she maintained her perfect tournament so far as she defeated World Junior Champion Hania El Hammamy to make it five 3-0 wins in a row.
El Hammamy caused one of the biggest shocks of the tournament as she came back
from two games down in the quarter-finals against World No.5 Camille Serme to reach the semi-finals for the first time, meaning a single nation made up all of the semi-final spots for the first time in World Championship history.
But she was outplayed against El Sherbini, going down by an 11-6, 11-2, 11-5 scoreline to ensure El Sherbini and El Welily will do battle for the first time this season.
“Hania is an amazing player, she is only 19 and is playing in the semi-final of the World Championship,” said El Sherbini after her 300th PSA Tour match.
“She got a huge win yesterday and I’m sure that it is still in her mind. I wanted to start from the first point in the match and just to keep going as much as I could. I’m really grateful that I’m standing here right now and I’m playing this tournament. I’m in the final, so I’m really grateful and hopefully not losing a game will give me a good advantage tomorrow.”