eight-time World Champion Nicol David lifted her first PSA World Tour
title since December 2015 after a dominant display against World No.27
Olivia Blatchford in the final of the inaugural Ciudad de Floridablanca,
PSA W70 tournament held at the Parque el Santisimo, Colombia.
Playing in the shadow of the stunning El Santisimo statue, World No.7
David – who topped the World Rankings for nine years between 2006-2015 –
stormed out of the blocks to take a two-game lead amidst a nervy start
from Blatchford, who was appearing in her biggest ever final.
Play was then suspended for 40-minutes at 6-6 in the third game after a
sudden period of rainfall plunged the completion of the final into
doubt, but the sky cleared and David returned to court in a determined
mood as she closed out the win to wrap up an 11-3, 11-4, 11-8 victory in
David’s win sees her take a share of the $70,000 prize fund, the most
lucrative purse ever to be offered at a women’s squash tournament in
South America, in addition to claiming the 81st Tour title of her
glittering career – and her first since the 2015 Hong Kong Open.
feels great to win a tournament again,” admitted David.
“It’s been quite a while and I think this is really special to have my
first title here in Floridablanca. It’s going to have a special place in
“Thank you so much to the people in Floridablanca for hosting us here at
the El Santisimo, it’s been such a special week for all of us girls
“There was so much support from the mayor and everyone here, who put so
much effort into making this happen.
“It’s such a team effort, and everyone has worked so hard to make this
happen for women’s squash.”
Blatchford paid tribute to the experience of playing one of the sport’s
greatest ever players, saying: “This whole trip has been crazy. It's
amazing to be here and get the experience, I don't really get to spend
too much time on glass courts, especially glass courts like this.
“To play Nicol, who is an idol in the game, is incredible.”
Top seed Amanda Sobhy’s tournament at the inaugural Ciudad de
Floridablanca came to an abrupt end after the United States No.1 tore
her achilles while match ball up during her semi-final clash with
compatriot Olivia Blatchford at the Parque el Santisimo.
(left) had been putting in an imperious display against her Team USA
teammate as she powered two games ahead, taking them 11-1, 11-6 as she
controlled the ’T’ and unleashed some crashing winners to the back of
But, at 10-5 up and on the verge of securing her place in the final,
Sobhy’s achilles on her left leg gave way as she set off to chase down a
drop, leaving the World No.6 crumpled on the floor, and she was forced
to retire from the match and the tournament in what is the latest
fitness issue in an injury-hit 2017 after a partially torn fascia
impeded her during January’s Tournament of Champions.
"She was outplaying me completely, she was 100 per cent the better
squash player," said an emotional Blatchford, with whom Sobhy is close
"I was five match balls down so I thought I would do some different
things, I just sent her the wrong way and, when she moved, she went
down. I’m praying for her, all I can do now is be the best teammate I
can for her now and take her strength by doing my best tomorrow.
"I know I don’t deserve to be out there tomorrow, she does, so the best
thing I can do is honour her by giving my best on court tomorrow. I need
to really show up tomorrow for Amanda."
Blatchford will appear in her biggest ever PSA W70 final against
legendary Malaysian Nicol David, who recovered from a game down to beat
England’s Alison Waters - reaching her 101st Tour final in the process.
Waters controlled the early stages of the match after a slow start from
David, but the eight-time World Champion soon found her rhythm, and she
took the last three games in succession to wrap up an 8-11, 11-9, 11-6,
11-2 triumph - sealing a place in her first Tour final since the 2015
Hong Kong Open.
"I was just a bit reactive in some parts of the match and she was
free-flowing," David said.
"I wasn’t fully comfortable hitting my shots or finding my lines. I
managed to settle into the game and started hitting my targets well and
putting her under pressure. I was really pleased to enforce my game and
pull it through to win 3-1.
"I’m glad to get to the finals here, it’s been such a special
tournament, I’m just really enjoying it. I’ll give it a good go. When
you’re in a final, you’re both there to just go for it and I’ll be doing
US No.1 Amanda Sobhy will take on US No.2 Olivia Blatchford for a place
in the final of the inaugural Ciudad de Floridablanca, PSA W70
tournament after they moved past World No.19 Tesni Evans and World No.15
Emily Whitlock, respectively, at the Parque el Santisimo.
Sobhy, the World No.6, earned her semi-final berth courtesy of a
dominant 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 win over Evans to reach her first PSA World
Tour semi-final since October’s U.S. Open.
“I knew that the last couple of times Tesni and I have played, it has
been tough and I know she’s in good form,” said Sobhy.
“I tried to implement my fast pace from the beginning and I tried to
hold and stop and start her because she’s really good when she gets into
“If you play at a medium pace then she’s deadly. I tried to take that
away from her and I’m really pleased that I was able to execute it in
three games and that I was able to move well and still be breathing
after the match.”
Blatchford will appear in the biggest semi-final of her career after a
hip injury to Whitlock forced the Englishwoman to retire.
The scores were locked at one-game apiece until Whitlock pulled up
mid-way through the third game. Despite battling through the pain
barrier to see out the game, Whitlock was forced to shake hands before
the fourth game could get under way, sealing Blatchford’s spot in her
biggest ever PSA World Tour semi-final.
Sobhy and Blatchford will meet for the second tournament in a row after
Sobhy triumphed in round two of last month’s Windy City Open - and
Blatchford is anticipating an exciting match between the two friends.
“All-in-all it’s a massive step in the right direction for my career,"
"I felt really confident going into it and, while it’s not the way I
wanted to win, it’s a step forward.
"We [Blatchford and Sobhy] know each-other very well, inside and out.
She’s a teammate, a friend and she’s my roommate here. I have great
respect for her and her game. Hopefully tomorrow will see two girls
trying to go at it no matter how well they know each-other’s games."
Meanwhile, legendary Malaysian Nicol David moved to within one win of
her first PSA World Tour final since the 2015 Hong Kong Open after she
defeated World No.17 Joey Chan in straight games.
David rose to wins on the tie-break in games one and two, before
dropping just three points in the third to wrap up a 12-10, 12-10, 11-3
“I felt good at the start and I think it was a good match,” said David.
“I’m really excited to play in the semis here in Colombia. It’s such a
great venue, I’ve been feeling good and I’m going to give it all I’ve
Standing between David and a place in a 101st Tour final is England’s
World No.10 Alison Waters, who defeated compatriot Victoria Lust in a
brutal five-game thriller to reach her biggest semi-final since 2015.
The match saw both players put together spells of dominance and
error-strewn periods in equal measure, with Waters overturning two games
balls in a tense decider to record an 11-7, 16-18, 11-7, 7-11, 15-13
“You train hard in these situations and I was confident in those last
couple of points,” said Waters.
“I’ve had some good results recently, I lost to [World No.2] Camille [Serme]
in the final of the Cleveland Classic and in Chicago [the Windy City
Open], but I’ve been playing well and I’m really pleased to be in the
semi-finals. It was a tough match tonight, but I’m looking forward to
Top seeds Amanda Sobhy and Nicol David both moved through to the last
eight of the inaugural Ciudad de Floridablanca, PSA W70 tournament after
claiming respective wins over England’s Millie Tomlinson and Mexico’s
Samantha Teran on the opening day of action.
Coinciding with the 2017 International Women’s Day, the first round saw
three matches take place at the stunning Parque el Santisimo, with Sobhy
putting in a fine display to see off Tomlinson in just 23 minutes by an
11-6, 11-1, 11-2 margin of victory.
Due to prolonged rainfall, the matches were delayed by an hour, and
Sobhy admitted it was important to remain focused despite the delay,
saying: "I prepared myself figuring that there would be a delay, and
it’s just something you can’t control, it’s just a funny situation.
"The only thing you can do is laugh about it, stay relaxed and try to be
as focused as you can be when you get on.
"I feel like a kid in a candy shop here, the venue is awesome. It’s an
amazing venue regardless of the weather and I’m so thankful that the
mayor of Floridablanca [Hector Mantilla] and Squash Colombia have been
able to put this event on for us."
Malaysia’s eight-time World Champion David also put in a strong showing,
beating training partner and close friend Samantha Teran in straight
The duo, who both train under the legendary coach Liz Irving, played out
the last match of the evening at the Parque el Santisimo, with David
taking it 11-2, 11-7, 11-3 to set up a quarter-final meeting with number
seven seed Joey Chan.
"It’s always difficult to play a good friend of yours, but I knew I had
to go in really strong," said David.
"I know she’s been playing pretty well, so I came into the match pretty
focused to make sure that I took control straight away. Today I really
kept on top of my task. I knew I had to be sharp today, so I was pleased
to perform the way I did.
"It gives you so much energy on court when you play here with the
Santisimo giving you its blessing. It’s remarkable how they have put
this court up here and you can’t really replicate this feeling."
England’s Emily Whitlock was the other victor at the Parque el Santisimo
and she defeated tournament wildcard and home hero Catalina Pelaez 3-0.
Pelaez, who suffered with knee tendonitis for much of last year, asked
questions of Whitlock at the outset of the second and third games, but
ultimately fell to a clinical display from the Englishwoman.
“I really enjoyed playing Catalina," Whitlock said.
"I know she has had a knee injury, I just hope she can get that fixed
soon and start playing at her very best.”
The rest of the matches took place on the traditional courts at the Club
Campestre Bucaramanga, with United States No.2 Olivia Blatchford causing
the day’s big upset against Hong Kong’s Annie Au.
“I tried really hard and that’s why I do all this fitness work because,
when I have these games, I know that I can go for it 100 per cent," said
Blatchford, who will take on Whitlock in the next round.
“I wanted to get a good start, which I did, but she came back and she is
really clever, so my goal was to make it physical and up the pace. I
managed to do that, so I can’t wait to get on the glass court now, I’m
Elsewhere, Welsh World No.19 Tesni Evans beat Egypt’s Heba El Torky to
set up a meeting with Sobhy, while World No.10 Alison Waters and World
No.16 Victoria Lust also claimed wins against Salma Hany Ibrahim and
Coline Aumard, respectively.
Waters and Lust will go head-to-head in the next round.
Top qualifying seeds Coline Aumard and Millie Tomlinson advanced to the
main draw of the inaugural Ciudad de Floridablanca, PSA W70 tournament
after they defeated home opposition in Laura Tovar and Karol Gonzalez,
Aumard, the French World No.32, was in fine form to record a straight
games win over Bogota-based World No.200 Tovar, with an 11-4, 11-5, 11-3
win seeing the 26-year-old secure her place in the main draw of the most
lucrative women’s squash tournament ever to take place in South America.
Aumard’s reward is a meeting with England’s World No.16 Victoria Lust,
against whom she will be aiming to end a four-match winless streak.
Meanwhile, Tomlinson earned her main draw berth after a similarly
impressive showing against local player Karol Gonzalez, claiming an
11-4, 11-7, 11-2 victory to set up a main draw meeting with tournament
top seed Amanda Sobhy in round one.
The other two players to emerge victorious from the qualification stage
were experienced Mexican Samantha Teran and Canada’s Hollie Naughton,
with the pair recording respective wins over Haley Mendez and Diana
Teran, the 35-year-old World No.49, will take on number two seed Nicol
David for a place in the quarter-finals of the main draw, while Naughton
will line up against Hong Kong’s Joey Chan in the opening round.
The main draw of the Ciudad de Floridablanca takes place between March
8-11 and it is the first standalone women’s tournament outside of a
World Championship to be broadcast live on SQUASHTV and Eurosport Player
- while the opening day of the tournament coincides with International
United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy is looking forward to showcasing women’s
squash at the upcoming Ciudad de Floridablanca, the first round of which
coincides with the 2017 International Women’s Day on March 8.
Taking place on a specially constructed all-glass show court on the
stunning Parque el Santisimo in Colombia, the Ciudad de Floridablanca is
the most lucrative women’s South American squash tournament of all time
with $70,000 up for grabs, and sees Sobhy seeded first in the 16-woman
Sobhy, who takes on a qualifier in round one, is excited to take part in
the tournament, and the charismatic World No.6 hopes that the tournament
beginning on International Women’s Day will help to encourage women to
get involved in the sport.
"The fact that the first round of the tournament coincides with
International Women's Day is brilliant because it showcases women's
squash, which will increase the visibility of the sport in this region
of the world and encourage more females to get on court," said Sobhy.
"Squash is such an amazing sport that we want to continue to grow. The
goal is to get as many people involved and females to play, so it is
such a benefit to start the tournament on International Women's Day."
The official campaign for the 2017 International Women’s Day is to #BeBoldForChange,
which is calling on the masses to help forge a more inclusive, gender
Since the historic merger between the Professional Squash Association (PSA)
and Women’s Squash Association (WSA) on January 1, 2015, the number of
World Series tournaments offering equal prize money has increased to
five - including the PSA Dubai World Series Finals - while the 2017
Men’s and Women’s PSA World Championships will be held side-by-side in
December, with equal prize money on offer.
And Sobhy is fully behind the steps being made to achieve gender
equality across the professional ranks, saying: "Gender equality is
unbelievably important nowadays because women are working just as hard
as men, so why do women have to settle for anything less?
"This movement for gender equality is a major topic of issue in the
world at the moment, so to have squash tournaments and promoters push
for equal prize money between the women and men is fantastic to see.
"The trend for equality is growing among tournaments with multiple World
Series events having equal prize money and the World Championships in
Manchester offering equal prize money, so it's great to be associated
with an organisation that promotes this movement."
Sobhy will be appearing in Colombia for the first time in her career and
is seeded to meet Malaysia’s eight-time World Champion Nicol David in a
blockbuster final on March 11.
The 23-year-old is eagerly anticipating the tournament as she looks to
claim her first PSA World Tour title since September 2015.
"I have been wanting to go to Colombia ever since I was a junior in
squash because I've heard so many great things about the country, so I
cannot tell you how excited I am to play in the Ciudad de Floridablanca,"
"Thank you to the promoters and Squash Colombia for making this event
happen. They have had a few men's tournaments in Colombia before, so it
is amazing to see that they are now having such a lucrative women's
PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough said: "The fact that the Ciudad de
Floridablanca is the first standalone women’s tournament outside of a
World Championship to be broadcast live on SQUASHTV and Eurosport Player
is a huge boost for the women’s game.
"We are also delighted that the Ciudad de Floridablanca will take place
on International Women’s Day and feel that the campaign’s goal for a
gender equal world is in line with our efforts to enhance the standing
and earning opportunities of the women’s game.
"Since the merger with the WSA over two years ago, the PSA have made
great strides in reducing gender inequality and we remain committed to
The Ciudad de Floridablanca take place between March 8-11 and fans can
get involved in the conversation by using the official tournament