By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
World No.1 Nour El Sherbini is the women’s 2021 CIB Squash Open Black Ball champion after she overcame fellow Egyptian Hania El Hammamy earlier today (December 16) at the Black Ball Sporting Club in Cairo, Egypt to win the PSA World Tour Gold title.
The pair met in the final of the Platinum tier Black Ball Open at this venue in March, 2020, while El Hammamy, who won that clash, was a losing finalist in the Gold Black Ball event this time last year. However, this time around El Sherbini emerged victorious, with an 11-7, 9-11, 11-1, 11-7 scoreline clinching her fifth PSA title of 2021.
World Champion El Sherbini came into the match having not dropped a game throughout the tournament and, while she made a good start to take the first game, the 26-year-old was pegged back in the second by a resilient El Hammamy. El Sherbini also had to contend with a cut on her knee sustained after a collision towards the end of the second game.
She came out firing on all cylinders in the third game and was simply sublime as she blew El Hammamy away, dropping just one point in the progress. The fourth was a more evenly-contested affair, but El Sherbini’s quality was evident as she held off her opponent to capture her second trophy at this venue and her first at the Gold edition of the Black Ball event.
It is El Sherbini’s 27th PSA title and the Egyptian will take home over $17,500 for her efforts in Cairo this week.
“I’m really happy and proud,” said El Sherbini. “Black Ball has always been a special event for me and I love to play here. From the first event, I reached about four finals and lost in them, so to be stood here having won two Black Ball Opens is an honour for me. I lost one of the finals against Hania. It was her first Platinum event and I’m sure it’s not going to be the last.
“She’s amazing and the three of us [El Sherbini, Nouran Gohar and El Hammamy] have been raising the bar so high this season and they’re playing the best seasons of their lives, so I’m really happy with my performance today.”
Meanwhile, the men’s event got under way, with the likes of Miguel Rodriguez, Gregoire Marche, Saurav Ghosal and Youssef Ibrahim booking their places in the last 16.
Mohamed ElSherbini beat James Willstrop 11-9 in the fifth game of an incredible match lasting 79 minutes. It was Willstrop’s 705th PSA World tour match, moving him ahead of Nick Matthew to second place in the all-time list behind Gregory Gaultier.
2021 CIB Squash Open Black Ball, Cairo, Egypt.
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 9-11, 11-1, 11-7 (48m)
2021 CIB Squash Open Black Ball Men’s First Round:
Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) bt Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 3-1: 11-5, 12-10, 6-11, 11-8 (61m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt [WC] Abdelrahman Nassar (EGY) 3-0: 11-0, 11-2, 11-5 (26m)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Declan James (ENG) 3-1: 11-9, 8-11, 11-2, 11-4 (65m)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt Victor Crouin (FRA) 3-1: 11-9, 9-11, 11-3, 11-0 (42m)
Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) bt Karim El Hammamy (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 12-10, 11-3 (47m)
Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-2: 11-7, 6-11, 12-10, 5-11, 11-9 (79m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-1: 9-11, 11-6, 13-11, 11-8 (68m)
Miguel Rodriguez (COL) bt Patrick Rooney (ENG) 3-1: 5-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-2 (42m)
Men’s Second Round:
 Ali Farag (EGY) v Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v  Mazen Hesham (EGY)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) v  Mostafa Asal (EGY)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Youssef Ibrahim (EGY)
Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Joel Makin (WAL) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Miguel Rodriguez (COL) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
Pictures courtesy of PSA