By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
Testing yourself against the best is a sign of personal progress in sport. Amrican Amanda Sobhy will relish that opportunity after reaching the final of the women’s CIB Black Ball Open, where she will face world No.1 Nour El Sherbini.
World No.7 Sobhy beat El Sherbini in the quarter-final stage of this PSA World Tour Platinum event last year. Tomorrow she will attempt to repeat that result with so much more riding on the result.
Sobhy reached the final by beating Salma Hany 3-1 after surrendering a tight opening game. El Sherbini continued her imperious run of form in Cairo by stopping New Zealand’s Joelle King in straight games.
Sobhy and El Sherbini memorably faced each other in the last eight of this tournament in December last year when the American achieved a shock victory in a thrilling five-game battle.
For Sobhy, it will be her first PSA Platinum final since the 2016 Hong Kong Open and four years after she had surgery on a career-threatening Achilles injury.
The American showed little signs of fatigue from her thrilling 66-minute battle with France’s World No.3 Camille Serme the night before as she recovered well to produce a calm and collected performance against an in-form Hany.
After losing a close first game, Sobhy took control of the match to win 10-12, 11-7, 11-2, 11-7 in 45 minutes.
“She started really strong and I started a bit flat from yesterday and the high of it,” said Sobhy afterwards.
“It took a while for me to get myself going, but I started to feel my groove in the second. I felt like I was running a bit more and my movement was getting a bit better. I was pressing up on the T instead of being a bit passive and just told myself to stay aggressive and take it to her. If I was going to lose then I was going to go down fighting.
“This is my first final post-injury. Four years ago on this date I had my surgery on my Achilles and now to see I’m in the final of a Platinum is something special, so I’m going to give it my all.”
El Sherbini will feature in her third final at the event as she looks to get her hands on the CIB Black Ball Open trophy for the first time in her career following two runner-up finishes in 2019 and 2020 to Raneem El Welily and Hania El Hammamy.
King had upset the form book in the last round with her victory over former champion El Hammamy. However, the 32-year-old was unable to maintain that run today as El Sherbini showed her class and was firing on all cylinders to prevail 11-5, 11-8, 11-4.
“It feels amazing,” said El Sherbini afterwards. “I’m really glad I won it in three. It was a very tough three games. Joelle played amazing yesterday, when she beat Hania, one of the top players now on her form.
“I was really looking forward to this one. I’m really glad I played well and hopefully I keep going.”
The final will take place tomorrow (March 18) and play begins at 20:30 (GMT+2). All of the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV and the channels of contracted broadcast partners.
Women’s 2021 CIB PSA Black Ball Squash Open, Black Ball Sporting Club, Cairo, Egypt.
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-4 (35m)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt  Salma Hany (EGY) 3-1: 10-12, 11-7, 11-2, 11-7 (45m)
Final (Thursday March 18):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
Pictures courtesy of PSA