Makin, Evans, Perry and Kennedy are the last four Brits left to battle in Cairo
By ALAN THATCHER and ELLIE MAWSON
Husband and wife Ali Farag and Nour El Tayeb both reached the last 16 of the PSA World Championships in Cairo with El Tayeb causing one of the upsets of the day.
El Tayeb produced a superb display to overcome No.7 seed Salma Hany in four games at the Club S Allegria.
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 action with yet another impressive performance.
The 2019 World Championship finalist, now ranked 28, edged a tight first game before Hany hit back to take the second 11-9. El Tayeb stepped it up a gear in the third and fourth, producing a dazzling display of accurate hitting to win 12-10, 9-11, 11-3, 11-3 in 44 minutes.
A delighted El Tayeb said: “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.
“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 World No.20 Sivasangari Subramaniam after the Malaysian 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 started well only to be continually frustrated by Sobhy’s remarkable powers of recovery as she covered all four corners expertly to take the opening game 12-10.
Sobhy then powered her way through the second game before Fiechter pushed hard in the third, but she was unable to find a way through as Sobhy set up a third-round encounter with England’s Sarah-Jane Perry, who beat France’s Melissa Alves 11-8, 11-4, 12-10.
“I’m very pleased with how I played and stuck to my game plan the entire match,” said Sobhy. “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.”
Defending champion Nour El Sherbini was forced to recover from an uncomfortable start to beat 18-year-old wildcard Kenzy Ayman in the opening match on the glass court.
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 surprised the World No.2 by taking 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.
No.9 seed Georgina Kennedy made it two English players to win through with a polished performance to beat Canada’s Danielle Letourneau 11-2, 11-4, 11-2 in 24 minutes. Her reward is a clash with No.3 seed Hania El Hammamy in the last 16.
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.
“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.”
Next up for Farag will be talented Egyptian Youssef Ibrahim, who 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.
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 did I think I couldn’t win because I was playing well.”
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 overcome his opponent, who was runner-up to Gregory Gaultier in the 2015 World Open in Seattle.
“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.”
Asal’s triumph secured a last-16 place against India’s Saurav Ghosal, who beat USA’s Todd Harrity in three tough games.
Round three of the PSA World Championships Cairo takes place today (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.
Welsh pair Joel Makin and Tesni Evans face tough challenges with Makin meeting Tarek Momen and Evans challenging women’s top seed Nouran Gohar.
Action starts at 6.45pm local time (GMT+2) and will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV.
2022 PSA World Championships, National Museum of Egyptian Civilization and Club S Allegria, Cairo, Egypt.
Men’s Round Two (bottom half):
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-4 (33m)
 Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Todd Harrity (USA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-8, 11-7 (48m)
 Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt [WC] Yassin Elshafei (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-3 (32m)
 Diego Elias (PER) bt Sebastien Bonmalais (FRA) 3-0: 11-9, 11-3, 11-7 (39m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Henry Leung (HKG) 3-1: 8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 14-12 (46m)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-0: 11-4, 11-4, 11-6 (28m)
 Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) bt Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-2: 10-12, 7-11, 11-9, 11-2, 11-7 (64m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-0: 13-11, 11-1, 11-9 (31m)
Women’s Round Two (bottom half):
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Satomi Watanabe (JPN) 3-1: 8-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-2 (40m)
 Georgina Kennedy (ENG) bt  Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-0: 11-2, 11-4, 11-2 (26m)
 Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) bt  Nadine Shahin (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-9, 11-9 (25m)
Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt  Salma Hany (EGY) 3-1: 12-10, 9-11, 11-3, 11-3 (44m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt  Melissa Alves (FRA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-4, 12-10 (26m)
 Sabrina Sobhy (USA) bt  Olivia Fiechter (USA) 3-0: 12-10, 11-5, 11-9 (35m)
 Tinne Gilis (BEL) bt  Hollie Naughton (CAN) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-2 (34m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [WC] Kenzy Ayman (EGY) 3-1: 12-14, 11-7, 11-4, 11-9 (48m)
Men’s Round Three (top half, May 17):
 Paul Coll (NZL) v  Mazen Hesham (EGY)
 Joel Makin (WAL) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) v  Gregoire Marche (FRA)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Women’s Round Three (top half, May 17):
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v  Tesni Evans (WAL)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) v  Rowan Elaraby (EGY)
 Joelle King (NZL) v  Nada Abbas (EGY)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
Men’s Round Three (bottom half, May 18):
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) v  Saurav Ghosal (IND)
 Youssef Soliman (EGY) v  Diego Elias (PER)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
 Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
Women’s Round Three (bottom half, May 18):
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v  Georgina Kennedy (ENG)
 Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) v Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v  Sabrina Sobhy (USA)
 Tinne Gilis (BEL) v  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour