By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
World No.2 Nouran Gohar has been removed from the CIB Black Ball Open following a breach of Covid rules at the tournament.
The 23-year-old from Cairo was due to play in the final match of the day against America’s Olivia Clyne. However, due to a breach of PSA’s COVID-19 protocols, Gohar (pictured) has been disqualified from the event, meaning Clyne has received a walkover into the quarter-finals.
Unconfirmed reports suggested that Gohar had visited the hotel gym, which was out of bounds.
The PSA issued a statement which read: “Strict COVID-19 protocols are currently in place at every PSA World Tour event. All players and staff must provide a negative PCR test prior to travelling to a tournament before taking a further PCR test upon arrival.
“Once a negative result has been received, that person is then allowed to enter the tournament bubble. During the tournament, players are prohibited from entering areas outside of the bubble or coming into contact with people who are not in the bubble.
PSA Chief Operating Officer Lee Beachill said: “We have put in place strict COVID-19 protocols at all PSA World Tour events in order to protect the wellbeing of our players, referees and staff.
“The reaction from the players to our protocols has been phenomenal and their understanding and discipline has played a key role in us not receiving a single positive test for a player across the six events that have taken place since the restart.
“However, we take any breach of these protocols very seriously, so we have had to make the regrettable decision to withdraw Nouran from the tournament. Nouran is naturally disappointed but has acknowledged she has made a mistake.”
Defending champion Sarah-Jane Perry will line up against World No.1 Nour El Sherbini in a mouthwatering quarter-final fixture at the women’s CIB PSA Black Ball Squash Open, PSA World Tour Platinum event after they achieved third round victories at Cairo’s Black Ball Sporting Club earlier today.
Perry – who beat World No.5 Hania El Hammamy in December’s Black Ball Open final to win her biggest PSA World Tour title – booked her last eight berth courtesy of an 11-7, 11-9, 11-6 victory over USA’s Olivia Fiechter.
“I know Liv has had some good wins and she’s really dangerous when you let her play, so my aim was to try and get in front and stop her playing,” Perry said.
“I sort of did that in patches, but not as much as I would have liked. I was a little bit sluggish today and I’m not really sure why. I felt really sharp the other day, so I’m sure tomorrow I’ll get everything right and I’ll be back again.
“I’ve been guilty of being complacent with a serve, as they like to keep reminding us in the commentary box it’s the only shot that you have complete control over, so I tried to actually use it a bit more. I thought I served well the other day and tried that again today, any day you don’t serve out is a good day, especially when I’m trying to throw a few lob serves out there. It was probably one of the aspects I was most happy with.”
Perry has often proven to be a tricky opponent for El Sherbini with four wins over the two-time Black Ball Open runner-up and they will lock horns for the 13th time on the PSA World Tour tomorrow (March 16). El Sherbini claimed a comfortable win over Belgium’s Tinne Gilis to secure her quarter-finals spot.
“It was good to play a tough one. I haven’t played her before, she is fast and the court is bouncy so she gets everything,” El Sherbini said.
“It is good to play different opponents and I am sure we are going to have a lot of tough matches. Playing a tournament in Egypt, in your country, is always big and special. The Black Ball tournament is still missing for me, I am going to try my best and hopefully it will be mine this time.”
It was a comfortable day for the other seeds in action with six of the seven third round fixtures being won in straight games. World No.3 Camille Serme was on form to dispatch Canada’s Hollie Naughton in three to set up a last eight meeting with World No.7 Amanda Sobhy.
“I had never played Hollie before, so I had to watch a few of her matches to know what to expect,” Serme said.
“I knew she was a big fighter. She has already played five games with two of the strongest girls in the world in [former World No.1s] Raneem [El Welily] and Laura Massaro. I knew it was going to be tough. I am happy to be back in the quarter-finals because last year I lost to Hania I the second round, so it is a bonus for me.”
World No.5 El Hammamy took a step closer to a third successive Black Ball Open final after she overcame India’s Joshna Chinappa 11-6, 11-5, 11-6. The 20-year-old will take on the experienced Kiwi Joelle King, who dispatched Egypt’s Nadine Shahin in the opening match of the day.
“I think I’m much more pleased with myself today than I was the first round,” said El Hammamy. “It took me a lot of effort in order to be able to come here and perform this way. I think I was unstable in the first round mentally and I worked really hard last night to prepare myself and be ready for today’s match.
“Joelle is a great player, talented and very physical as well. I think tomorrow’s match will be really interesting and I’m really looking forward to it.”
The World No.13 Clyne will take on World No.10 Salma Hany in the last eight. Both players are vying for a maiden Platinum semi-finals berth, with Hany booking her quarter-final spot after defeating World No.14 Rowan Elaraby in four games, the only match of the day to go further than three.
Women’s 2021 CIB PSA Black Ball Squash Open, Black Ball Sporting Club, Cairo, Egypt.
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Tinne Gilis (BEL) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-7 (29m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Olivia Fiechter (USA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-9, 11-6 (33m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt Nadine Shahin (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-9, 11-3 (27m)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Joshna Chinappa (IND) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (32m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt Hollie Naughton (CAN) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-6 (32m)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Farida Mohamed (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-4 (27m)
 Salma Hany (EGY) bt Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 3-1: 13-11, 11-9, 8-11, 12-10 (52m)
Olivia Clyne (USA) bt  Nouran Gohar (EGY) w/o
Quarter-Finals (March 16):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Joelle King (NZL) v  Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
 Salma Hany (EGY) v Olivia Clyne (USA)
Pictures courtesy of PSA