Nour El Tayeb’s first win over Nicol David
By SEAN REUTHE
World No.7 Nour El Tayeb claimed her first ever victory over eight-time World Champion Nicol David to become one of four Egyptian semi-finalists at the 2018 Saudi PSA Women’s Squash Masters – making it the first time ever that all four semi-final spots of a women’s PSA World Series tournament will be taken up by Egyptians.
El Tayeb, who came back from two games down to beat World No.3 Camille Serme in the previous round, had lost out to David (below) on all nine of their previous encounters – a run that stretched back to 2010 – and had taken more than a game off the legendary Malaysian on just one occasion prior to their meeting in Saudi Arabia.
But the 24-year-old from Cairo tore up the form book with a performance reminiscent of the ones she showed during October’s U.S. Open title win as she powered to an 11-7, 14-12, 11-9 victory in 35 minutes.
“I am out of words, there are no words to describe Nicol,” El Tayeb said. “She is the reason why today’s game is what it is, I’m so proud.
“It’s so incredible to have four Egyptian women in the semis of a world series and I’m so proud I managed to get to the semis of three major tournaments in a few weeks. That is new for me and I hope it’s a new chapter in my career. I have always been a contender, a ‘tough draw’ but I never managed to consistently beat the top girls.”
El Tayeb will meet compatriot and World Champion Raneem El Welily for a place in the final of the first professional women’s squash tournament to take place in Saudi Arabia after El Welily weathered a storm against World No.8 Sarah-Jane Perry.
World No.2 El Welily narrowly had the better of the opening stages to go two games ahead, only to find herself up against a resurgent Perry in the next two games as the woman from England levelled the scores.
However, El Welily refocused in the decider and closed it out for the loss of four points to book her place in tomorrow’s semi-finals.
“It’s always so tough to play SJ, she has got a game plan and it’s so hard to break,” said El Welily.
“I was 2-0 up but I still lost the next two, although I was up 8-5 in the two games. Nour (El Sherbini) told me the right words, just hit it and run. So I did and eventually I got to those drop shots and boasts and it worked.”
World No.1 Nour El Sherbini moved to within one win of a fourth successive PSA World Tour final after dispatching World No.20 Dipika Pallikal 3-0, winning 11-5, 11-8, 11-4 in just 20 minutes.
“It wasn’t as easy as it looked,” said El Sherbini. “We have been playing since the juniors and Dipika is not easy to play.”
World No.5 Nouran Gohar will meet El Sherbini for the third tournament in a row after she defeated New Zealand’s Joelle King in straight games to complete an Egyptian clean sweep.
The hard-hitting 20-year-old will look to end a six-match losing streak against El Sherbini, with her only win over the two-time World Champion coming back in 2014.
“I’m really pleased to be in the semis,” Gohar said. “Joelle and I are probably the hardest hitters on the Tour and we had to clean the court a few times because we really worked very hard. She kept coming back and it was such a hard match.”
The semi-finals of the Saudi PSA Women’s Masters will be held tomorrow, January 11, with play beginning at 19:00 local time (GMT+3).
2018 Saudi PSA Women’s Squash Masters:
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-4 (20m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-8 (35m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-2: 13-11, 11-9, 7-11, 9-11, 11-4 (53m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt  Nicol David (MAS) 3-0: 11-7, 14-12, 11-9 (35m)
Semi-Finals (To Be Played January 11th):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
Picture by PATRICK LAUSON