Raneem wins thriller against friend and rival Nour El Sherbini
By ELLIE MAWSON in Cairo
Egypt’s World No.1 Raneem El Welily overcame compatriot and reigning World Champion Nour El Sherbini in a five-game thriller in Cairo, Egypt, to be crowned the 2019 CIB Black Ball Squash Open champion.
The Black Ball Squash Open is the first major women’s tournament to take place in Egypt’s capital since the 2016 Wadi Degla Open, where El Welily also triumphed and the World No.1 continued that strong run of form in Cairo to take home the PSA World Tour Gold title.
El Welily and El Sherbini were meeting in their 11th successive PSA final, with the latter claiming the last victory earlier this year in New York, and it proved to be one of their closest yet as Cairo-based El Welily was forced to come from 2-1 down to capture her 20th PSA title.
A tight first game went in the way of 23-year-old El Sherbini, who was featuring in her third successive final after winning both the Tournament of Champions and PSA World Championships in 2019, before El Welily found her rhythm in the second to draw level for the loss of just two points.
The momentum continued to swing between each player until the fifth, when El Welily was able to create her own patch of dominance to close out a 9-11, 11-2, 6-11, 11-1, 11-5 victory in 53 minutes.
The Black Ball Open is her third PSA title of the 2018-2019 season, following wins at the China Squash Open and U.S. Open earlier in the year. She took to the court shortly before her husband, Tarek Momen, competed in the Canary Wharf final in London.
“It feels good to have won this match,” said 30-year-old El Welily following her victory. “Playing Nour is never easy and today was a little bit different than any other time we have played.
“I think we both showed very good patterns throughout the match and we had some very good patches where we both played well. That hasn’t happened in a while, so I am very happy to have been a part of this good match.
“In the fourth, I was tense, so I decided to go back to basics. Every time we get on court, it’s a different situation. I have got to believe that it’s going to be a different match, a different result, and that the last match doesn’t mean anything.
“We are very good friends off court, and we fight until the end and respect each other. I think that is why we fought so hard tonight.”
El Sherbini added afterwards: “It’s been a tough week, and it was a bonus to be playing in Egypt in front of my friends, family and my team. I’m glad I made it to the final here after winning the Worlds a few days ago.
“I have played a lot of hard battles with Raneem and she was better today. Hopefully, we’ll have more battles to come.”
CIB Black Ball Squash Open, Cairo, Egypt.
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 11-2, 6-11, 11-1, 11-5 (53m)
Pictures courtesy of PSA