Egyptians Raneem and Omneya meet top two seeds in Cleveland
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad Correspondent
Egypt’s world No.2 Raneem El Welily claimed her anticipated place in the semi-finals of the Women’s Cleveland Classic – but the 2013 champion was taken the full distance before overcoming France’s sixth seed Camille Serme in the quarter-finals of the WSA International 50 squash event celebrating its fifth year at Cleveland Racquet Club in Cleveland, USA.
Serme, who dropped to seven in the February world rankings, twice led the 26-year-old from Cairo, who strengthened her grip on second place in the latest WSA list. But El Welily dug deep in the decider to close out the match 7-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-4, 11-6.
“She controlled the match throughout most of it,” admitted the third-seeded Egyptian afterwards. “I’m just happy I could keep my head strong and push back.”
El Welily now faces her world ranking predecessor Laura Massaro, the 31-year-old from England who stood in second place throughout 2014. The No.2 seed fought off a tough challenge from Low Wee Wern, beating the seventh seed from Malaysia 7-11, 11-5, 11-5, 13-11.
“It always feels like a tactical game when playing her,” said the former world champion from Preston later. “A lot of long rallies and with Wern you can’t afford to open up the court too early because she will pounce on it and punish you.”
There will also be Egyptian interest in the other semi-final when unseeded Omneya Abdel Kawy takes on career-long rival Nicol David, the Malaysian superstar who this month became the longest-reigning world number one of all-time!
Abdel Kawy survived the battle of the non-seeds when she defeated giant-killer Annie Au, the world No.11 from Hong Kong who ousted fourth seed Nour El Sherbini in the opening round.
But Kawy, who earned her quarter-final slot after despatching England’s fifth seed Alison Waters, maintained her dominant form to see off Au 11-8, 11-8, 11-5.
“Her lob and drop is amazing,” said the 29-year-old from Cairo of left-hander Au. “Last time I played her she smashed me. When I play with Annie I have a plan but didn’t do it. This time I did it.”
David had to be on her top form to defeat Nour El Tayeb, the new world No.6 from Egypt, 11-3, 11-6, 11-8 and earn her 21st WSA World Tour meeting with Abdel Kawy over the past 15 years.
“Having different game plans for different players is key,” said the 29-year-old from Penang after her quarter-final victory. “Basically, a set base game plan and adapting it accordingly for different players.”
Women’s Cleveland Classic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
 Nicol David (MAS) bt  Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 11-3, 11-6, 11-8
Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt Annie Au (HKG) 11-8, 11-8, 11-5
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Camille Serme (FRA) 7-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-4, 11-6
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt  Low Wee Wern (MAS) 7-11, 11-5, 11-5, 13-11
 Nicol David (MAS) v Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
For all the latest WSA Tour news: wsaworldtour.com
Picture by MICHAEL WEIL