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23/03/2014
WOMEN'S WORLD OPEN 2014
 

England's Laura Massaro Wins Women's World Championship Title

Reports
  Final    Semi Finals    Quarter Finals    2nd Round   1st Round   Qualifying   Preview
 
WSA
30th Anniversary
WSA
30th Anniversary
Women's World Open 2014
15-23 March,
Penang, Malaysia
Round One
18/19 Mar
Round Two
20 Mar
Quarters
21 Mar
Semis
22 Mar
Final
23 Mar
[1] Nicol David (Mas)
11-9, 11-5, 11-8 (36m)
Emma Beddoes (Eng)
Nicol David
11-6, 11-3, 11-4 (24m)
Heba El Torky
Nicol David
9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 6-11, 11-4 (76m)
Camille Serme
Nicol David
4-11, 11-9, 11-6, 2-11, 11-9 (61m)
Nour El Sherbini
Nour El Sherbini
11-7, 6-11, 11-9, 5-11, 11-9 (68m)
Laura Massaro
[11] Annie Au (Hkg)
13-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-8 (46m)
[Q] Heba El Torky (Egy)
[14] Rachael Grinham (Aus)
4-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-7 (63m)
Nicolette Fernandes (Guy)
Nicolette Fernandes
14-12, 11-5, 11-3 (38m)
Camille Serme
[8] Camille Serme (Fra)
11-6, 12-10, 11-7 (44m)
[Q] Habiba Mohamed (Egy)
[4] Alison Waters Eng)
11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-2 (32m)
Joshana Chinappa (Ind)
Alison Waters
11-3, 11-9, 7-11, 11-3 (41m)
Nour El Sherbini
Nour El Sherbini
11-9, 8-11, 13-11, 11-6 (52m)
Joelle King
[12] Kasey Brown (Aus)
12-10, 12-10, 8-11, 11-5 (43m)
Nour El Sherbini (Egy)
[13] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 (44m)
[Q] Nour El Tayeb (Egy)
Omneya Abdel Kawy
11-8, 11-4, 11-4 (36m)
Joelle King
[5] Joelle King (Nzl)
11-3, 11-5, 11-8 (30m)
[Q] Tesni Evans (Wal)
Joey Chan (Hkg)
11-3, 11-9, 11-5 (26m)
[15] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng)
Sarah-Jane Perry
7-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 (61m)
Madeline Perry

Madeline Perry
10-12, 14-12, 11-3, 7-11, 11-7 (59m)
Raneem El Weleily
Raneem El Weleily
11-9, 11-7, 6-11, 11-7 (48m)
Laura Massaro
Sarah Kippax (Eng)
11-8, 13-11, 11-2 (37m)
[7] Madeline Perry (Irl)
[Q] Lisa Aitken (Eng)
11-2, 11-6, 11-5 (32m)
[10] Dipika Pallikal (Ind)
Dipika Pallikal
11-7, 11-7, 11-1 (26m)
Raneem El Weleily
[Q] Salma Hany (Egy)
11-9, 11-4, 11-4 (25m)
[3] Raneem El Weleily (Egy)
Donna Urquhart (Aus)
11-7, 11-6, 11-8 (32m)
[6] Low Wee Wern (Mas)
Low Wee Wern
11-8, 11-3, 11-9 (42m)
Sam Cornett
Low Wee Wern
12-14, 11-6, 6-11, 13-11, 11-7 (105m)
Laura Massaro
[Q] Sam Cornett (Can)
11-5, 11-7, 11-7 (32m)
[16] Line Hansen (Den)
[Q] Megan Craig (Nzl)
11-8, 11-4, 11-3 (23m)
[9] Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
Jenny Duncalf
11-9, 11-6, 11-4 (34m)
Laura Massaro
Vanessa Raj (Mas)
11-7, 11-4, 11-1 (25m)
[2] Laura Massaro (Eng)



RESULTS:
Penang CIMB Women's World  Championship,
Penang, Malaysia

17-Mar, Qualifying Finals:
 
Megan Craig (Nzl) bt Eun Chan Ahn (Kor) 11-8, 6-11, 12-14, 11-3, 11-7 (55m)
Heba El Torky (Egy) bt Deon Saffery (Wal) 11-6, 9-11, 11-8, 15-13 (61m)
Lisa Aitken (Eng) bt Siyoli Waters (Rsa) 11-5, 5-11, 11-8, 11-6 (45m)
Tesni Evans (Wal) bt Olga Ertlova (Cze) 11-8, 11-7, 12-10 (37m)
Habiba Mohamed
(Egy) bt Milou vd Heijden (Ned) 10-12, 13-11, 11-8, 11-6 (53m)
Salma Hany Ibrahim (Egy) bt Misaki Kobayashi (Jpn) 11-8, 11-9, 11-9 (43m)
Samantha Cornett (Can) bt Aparajitha Balamurukan (Ind) 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 (22m)
Nour El Tayeb (Egy) bt Lisa Camilleri (Aus) 12-10, 11-6, 11-5 (32m)


2nd qualifying round:
Eun Chan Ahn (KOR) bt Emily Whitlock (ENG) 10-12, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 (60m)
Megan Craig (NZL) bt Sarah Cardwell (AUS) 7-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-4 (48m)
Heba El Torky (EGY) bt Rachel Arnold (MAS) 11-1, 11-7, 11-8 (23m)
Deon Saffery (WAL) bt Tong Tsz-Wing (HKG) 12-14, 11-7, 11-2, 11-6 (47m)
Siyoli Waters (RSA) bt Lotte Eriksen (NOR) 12-10, 8-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7 (58m)
Lisa Aitken (ENG) bt Christine Nunn (AUS) 11-4, 11-7, 10-12, 11-4 (40m)
Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Celine Yeap (MAS) 11-6, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6 (34m)
Olga Ertlova (CZE) bt Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 12-10, 9-11, 11-4, 11-1 (39m)
Milou van der Heijden (NED) bt Pushppa Devi (MAS) 13-11, 11-8, 11-1 (21m)
Habiba Mohamed Ahmed Alymohmed (EGY) bt Delia Arnold (MAS) 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 11-4 (46m)
Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY) bt Teh Min Jie (MAS) 11-1, 11-6, 11-5 (21m)
Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) bt S Sivasangari (MAS) 11-5, 11-4, 11-6 (18m)
Aparajitha Balamurukan (IND) bt Kylie Lindsay (NZL) 11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 5-11, 11-5 (53m)
Samantha Cornett (CAN) bt Zulhijjah Binti Azan (MAS) 11-3, 11-2, 13-11 (26m)
Lisa Camilleri (AUS) bt Zoe Foo (MAS) 11-7, 11-3, 11-4 (22m)
Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Aika Azman (MAS) 11-3, 11-4, 11-6 (17m)

1st qualifying round:
Eun Chan Ahn
(KOR) bt Nur Aliah Anis (MAS) 11-4, 11-5, 11-6 (18m)
Rachel Arnold (MAS) bt Sara Chew Rou-Yi (MAS) 14-12, 11-3, 11-2 (20m)
Lotte Eriksen (NOR) bt Aifa Azman (MAS) 11-9, 11-5, 11-9 (27m)
Christine Nunn (AUS) bt Nazihah Hanis (MAS) 11-5, 11-9, 11-5 (25m)
Celine Yeap (MAS) bt Lim Jee Nee (MAS) 11-6, 11-8, 11-7 (25m)
Pushppa Devi (MAS) bt Lai Wen Li (MAS) 8-11, 11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 16-14 (43m)
Teh Min Jie (MAS) bt Zetty Zawannah (MAS) 11-8, 11-1, 11-6 (19m)
S Sivasangari (MAS) bt Karina Heredia Gonzalez (MEX) 11-5, 11-4, 11-1 (16m)
Aparajitha Balamurukan (IND) bt Andrea Lee (MAS) 8-11, 7-11, 11-2, 11-9, 11-9 (45m)
Zulhijjah Binti Azan (MAS) bt Satomi Watanabe (JPN) 11-8, 7-11, 6-11, 11-6, 13-11 (54m)
Zoe Foo (MAS) bt Teh Min Ern (MAS) 5-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-3, 11-8 (40m)
Aika Azman (MAS) bt Ooi Kah Yan (MAS) 11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6 (33m)

Qualifying finals line-up:
Eun Chan Ahn (KOR) v Megan Craig (NZL)
Heba El Torky (EGY) v Deon Saffery (WAL)
Siyoli Waters (RSA) v Lisa Aitken (ENG)
Tesni Evans (WAL) v Olga Ertlova (CZE)
Habiba Mohamed Ahmed Alymohmed (EGY) v Milou van der Heijden (NED)
Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) v Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY)
Samantha Cornett (CAN) v Aparajitha Balamurukan (IND)
Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v Lisa Camilleri (AUS)
Final   

England's Laura Massaro Wins Women's World Championship Title

World number two Laura Massaro fought off a courageous attack by teenage Egyptian giant-killer Nour El Sherbini in today's final of the Penang CIMB Women's World Squash Championship in Malaysia to become the first Englishwoman to win the world title for 15 years.

The 30-year-old from Preston's place in squash history is also assured as the first Englishwoman to hold both the British Open and World Championship titles simultaneously. Furthermore, following compatriot Nick Matthew's triumph in the men's championship in November, England can now boast both men's and women's world squash champions for the first time.

Massaro came into the climax of the Women's Squash Association (WSA) event at the SPICE Arena in Penang as the strong favourite after unseeded El Sherbini stunned Malaysian superstar Nicol David, the world No1 from Penang, in the semi-finals.

But the Lancashire lass (pictured above in action with El Sherbini) had to work extra hard before overcoming a resilient El Sherbini 11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-9, with the final point coming from a stroke.

Both players started on a nervous note, testing the court - but it was Massaro who managed to steal ahead to put herself in a comfortable position.

El Sherbini, the three-time world junior champion from Alexandria and the youngest player ever to reach the world final, bounced back to take the second game in style.

Massaro then went on to take the third, only for Sherbini to come back firing in the fourth, including taking seven straight points as the match went to a fifth game once again.

The young Egyptian had the early advantage in the decider, holding 4-0 and 6-2 leads - but the experienced Massaro demonstrated her fighting spirit and determination to pull level at eight-all.

She then had the advantage at 10-9, before finally earning the championship point as El Sherbini conceded a stroke.

The triumph makes Massaro only the third Englishwoman to lift the world title - since Martine le Moignan in 1989 and Cassie Jackman in 1999.

"To be honest I was really nervous," admitted the jubilant champion after the match. "I've never really felt this nervous even though I made the final of the 2012 worlds. It was probably because I didn't want the opportunity to slip away.

"I think knowing that I had to play Sherbini instead of Nicol in the final threw me off my game and it made me a lot more nervous because it was a really good opportunity for me.

"But it's been a really amazing win - and it's massive to have both the World and British Open titles.

"As for celebrations, unfortunately I have an early flight out so it'll just be dinner with the team and probably a few days off when I get back home," added Massaro.

Meanwhile El Sherbini, who was thrilled just to be in the final, admitted that she was just as nervous and had too many things running through her mind before the match.

"It's just so close isn't it? But I was just too nervous. I was thinking a lot before the match and I just didn't have that focus," said the teenager who missed out on the opportunity to become the only player in history to hold both the junior and senior world titles simultaneously.

WSA President Kasey Brown was delighted with the first staging of the Association's premier championship in Penang: "The final was a fitting climax to the event," said the world No14 from Australia. "High-quality and entertaining squash in front of a packed and vocal crowd, which entirely reflects the work of the organizing committee.

"With only a couple of months to prepare, Thomas Chan and his team have done an amazing job. Not only did they do Penang and Malaysia proud, they also left an impression on all the players that will not be forgotten anytime soon."

Official event website: www.simplythebest.my/
 

Semi Finals

El Sherbini Shocks David In Major World Championship Upset

Egyptian teenager Nour El Sherbini produced a stunning upset in today's semi-finals of the Penang CIMB Women's World Squash Championship in Malaysia by beating home heroine Nicol David, the world number one and seven-time champion, to became the first unseeded player to reach the premier Women's Squash Association (WSA) event final in more than 20 years.

El Sherbini, the 18-year-old world No27 from Alexandria who despatched Australian Kasey Brown, England's Alison Waters and New Zealander Joelle King - the 12th, 4th and 5th seeds, respectively - to make the semis, silenced the home crowd at the SPICE Arena in Penang with the 4-11, 11-9, 11-6, 2-11, 11-9 win in 61 minutes.

No one would have predicted such a scoreline as David was in typical sublime fashion, taking the first game in style.

But Sherbini (pictured above, right, in action with David) took the second, and alarm bells rang as the 30-year-old Penang superstar - bidding to extend her record to eight titles - lost the third.

The Penangite, egged on by a 2,000 strong crowd, rallied to take the fourth and force a decider.

But the Egyptian underdog, already the youngest ever semi-finalist, held her nerve from 9-6 and 10-9 up to seal a historic win.

El Sherbini will be only the second ever Egyptian, since Omneya Abdel Kawy in 2010, to make the world championship final.

"I'm just so happy - I never thought I could have won this match," said the jubilant Egyptian teenager.

"I always lose to Nicol 3/0 and it was never easy getting points off her. But I thought since I had nothing to lose, I just went out to enjoy my game," added three-time world junior champion El Sherbini, now in her sixth WSA World Tour final, but her first for more than a year.

"I feel so sorry for her ... and bad too for beating Nicol in front of her home crowd. But I think the pressure was on her.

"I'm also the second player from my country to make the final after Omneya so I'm really happy and I hope Egypt will be proud of me too," said Sherbini.

Defending champion and top seed David admitted that El Sherbini deserved the win.

"It's never easy losing in front of the fans here, but it was a bit of an up and down game for me and I just lacked the focus," said Nicol bravely.

"I just wasn't as sharp in the end but I did my best and gave it everything I could but it just wasn't my day. Fair play to Sherbini, she really deserved to win so all the best to her in the final."

There will be no all-Egyptian final, however, as England's world No2 Laura Massaro had earlier worn out Raneem El Welily, the world No3 from Cairo, 11-9, 11-7, 6-11, 11-7 in the other semi-final.

Massaro, the No2 seed from Preston in Lancashire (pictured above, right, in action with El Welily), is marking her second successive appearance in the world final - and the 29th Tour final of her career.

"Against Raneem it was more tough mentally because I didn't know whether she was going to hit a nick or the tin," said Massaro, the reigning British Open champion.

"But I felt that I was better physically and it definitely feels great to be in the final once more."

The final will represent only the second ever meeting between Massaro and El Sherbini - the Englishwoman having triumphed in their only earlier clash, in the Malaysian Open quarter-finals in September 2012.

Official event website: www.simplythebest.my/

 

Quarter Finals

Home Favourite Nicol David Survives Record-Breaking Penang Worlds

Home favourite Nicol David survived a mighty scare against France's Camille Serme in today's quarter-finals of the Penang CIMB Women's World Squash Championship - but the world number one did just enough to scrape through to the last four of the premier Women's Squash Association (WSA) event at the SPICE Arena in Penang, Malaysia.

The seven-time world champion and Penang's own star found herself on the back foot early on against world No6 Serme, but recovered to win 9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 6-11, 11-4 in 76 minutes.

David (pictured above in action with Serme) toiled in the first game as Serme gained the upper hand but regained her composure to move 2/1 ahead after winning the second and third games by identical scores.

But Serme - who has never beaten Nicol in 12 previous WSA meetings, and has never before taken more than two games off the Malaysian - proved that she was far from done by grittily taking the fourth.

Nicol however upped the pace in the decider as Serme ran out of ideas, sealing her sixth successive semi-final appearance at the worlds since 2008.

"You train for moments like this and you have to expect anything," said 30-year-old David. "Camille has beaten so many top players and she just came at me.

"I didn't want to go five, but sometimes it happens and I managed to dig deep and come through."

Malaysian interest in the 29th championships was whittled down to just Nicol, however, after world No7 Low Wee Wern squandered four match balls in the fourth game to lose 14-12, 6-11, 11-6, 11-13, 7-11 to world No2 Laura Massaro of England.

"It's a bit hard to lose in Penang," said the Malaysian and Penang number two. "But I really gave it everything I had," said Wee Wern after her fourth successive appearance in the quarter-finals.

"I had my chances in the fourth game, but Laura used all her experience and made the better play on the crucial points. That's something that I have to learn."

Massaro (pictured above with Wee Wern) meanwhile gave credit to Wee Wern for pushing her to the limits.

"This was definitely Wee Wern's best showing against me as she put me under so much pressure. It's a sign of how much she's improved - but I'm proud of myself for pulling through," said the England number one.

Massaro's victory took 105 minutes - making it not only the longest match of her career, but also the longest match on the WSA World Tour for three years, and the second longest match in the 35-year history of the world championships (the longest on record being in 1981, in the 'hand-in-hand-out' nine-points-per-game era).

Meanwhile, a further record was set when Egypt's unseeded Nour El Sherbini becoming the youngest ever semi-finalist at 18 - after upsetting world No5 Joelle King 11-9, 8-11, 13-11, 11-6.

World No3 Raneem El Welily then made it a first for Egypt after surviving a solid challenge from Ireland's experienced Madeline Perry, winning 10-12, 14-12, 11-3, 7-11, 11-7, to confirm two Egyptian semi-finalists for the first time.

"The pace of the match was really fast although I'm really happy to be in the semis," said 25-year-old El Welily, a semi-finalist for the second year in a row.

"It's also really great for Egypt, to have Sherbini in the top four too. She's the youngest ever in the worlds semis, and now it's a record for us to have two semi-finalists!

"But I definitely need to be more consistent, more relaxed and get a feel of the game in my next match," said Welily, who will meet Massaro next.

After her historic triumph, El Sherbini (pictured above in Penang action) told her Facebook fans: "So happy to be in Semi Final of the Women World Open for the first time in my career after beating Joelle 3/1 in the quarters - and to be the youngest ever to reach the World Championship semi finals.

"It was an amazing match and I am glad I managed to win it at the end," continued the Alexandria teenager who boasts three World Junior Championship titles. "Playing the Squash Queen and World no.1 Nicol David tomorrow in her hometown!"

Official event website: www.simplythebest.my/

 

2nd Round

Penang Pair Progress To World Quarter-Finals

Penang squash stars Nicol David and Low Wee Wern delighted the packed and partisan crowd watching today's second round action in the Penang CIMB Women's World Squash Championship when they despatched their opponents in straight games to reach the quarter-finals of the premier Women's Squash Association (WSA) event in Penang, Malaysia.

But it was Egypt's three-time world junior champion Nour El Sherbini who stole the show at the SPICE Arena.

The 18-year-old, who is ranked only No27 in the world from a career high of four following a lengthy injury layoff last year, was highly impressive as she doused the challenge of current world No4 Alison Waters.

Sherbini took charge in the middle and made the Englishwoman work the corners as she chalked up a shock 11-3, 11-9, 7-11, 11-3 win in 41 minutes.

"I'm very happy because this is the first time that I have beaten Alison, and this is also the first time that I have progressed to the quarter-finals of the worlds," said Sherbini, who will go on to meet world No5 Joelle King of New Zealand for a place in the semi-finals.

"It's a really good win for me and it's for my mother (Randa) who was so nervous watching me play. I'm definitely hoping to keep this run going."

Waters who celebrated her 30th birthday on Wednesday admitted that Sherbini was the better player on the day.

"Not the best way after my birthday but Sherbini played really well," said the Londoner. "She was confident and was controlling the T. The headstart she had was just too much for me."

Penang superstar and seven-time world champion Nicol David had no problems overcoming Egyptian qualifier Heba El Torky. Nicol romped to an 11-6, 11-3, 11-4 win in 24 minutes.

"Heba was probably nervous, but she came back pretty strong. Still I'm glad I managed to keep it pretty tight," said Nicol, who will next meet France's Camille Serme.

Malaysian No2 Low Wee Wern also came through, but not before surviving a third-set charge by Canadian No1 Samantha Cornett, the second qualifier to make the last 16.

World No7 Wee Wern (pictured above with Cornett) proved her worth as she delighted the crowd with the 11-8, 11-3, 11-9 win.

"I didn't know what to expect against Sam as I've never played and she gave everything she had in the third game," said Wee Wern.

"But I'm pleased with the result and I'm playing well. Hoping to go further tomorrow," added the young Penangite who will make her fourth straight quarter-final appearance since 2010.

She will however be in for a massive challenge, going up against world No2 Laura Massaro in the last eight. Massaro overpowered fellow Englishwoman and doubles partner Jenny Duncalf 11-9, 11-6, 11-4 in 34 minutes - denying the former world No2 a seventh successive appearance in the quarter-finals.

In the day's other results, Ireland's 37-year-old Madeline Perry defied age and logic as she battled hard from two games down to beat England's unrelated Sarah-Jane Perry 7-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9, 11-6.

"I'm still only 37, so I feel fine," joked Madeline. "But really, I'm not as tired because the rallies were not so long and I'm definitely looking forward to the quarter-finals."

Official event website: www.simplythebest.my/
 

1st Round Lower Half

Cornett Crashes Into World Championship Last 16

Canada's Samantha Cornett became the second qualifier to claim an unexpected place in the last 16 of the Penang CIMB Women's World Squash Championship when she upset Line Hansen, the 16th seed from Denmark, in today's second day of first round action in the premier Women's Squash Association (WSA) event at the SPICE Arena in Penang, Malaysia.

"The feeling is great, just great," said the world No38 from Ottawa after her shock 11-5, 11-7, 11-7 win in 32 minutes over the higher-ranked Hansen. "I don't know what else to say. I almost cried to be honest.

"I've never really thought about making the top 16 and I didn't have the best results prior either.

"I know I felt confident and comfortable as the match went on. But I'll probably have to change my flight now because I'm supposed to fly home on Friday," added Cornett, now North America's sole representative in the last 16 round.

The 23-year-old will now face local star Low Wee Wern, the No6 seed from Penang who will join fellow Penangite Nicol David in the second round after seeing off Australian Donna Urquhart.

Urged on by the partisan crowd, Wee Wern - who has struggled for some form lately - was slow off the blocks but returned strongly for an 11-7, 11-6, 11-8 win.

Urquhart who was once ranked as high as No13 in the world, only really came into the match in the third game, as she held an 8-7 lead over the Malaysian.

Wee Wern, who turns 24 in July, however regained her composure for four straight points before sealing her ticket into the top 16.

"The score seemed easy but it was never easy with Donna. We've had some close matches in the past and I had to be really on my toes at all times," said Wee Wern.

"I was actually trying to go for a 3/0 win instead of staying on court longer because I wanted to be as fresh as I could for the next round.

"There were some good rallies too and I'm really pleased with the result. Definitely the best start to the worlds."

There was however no such joy for Malaysian junior Vanessa Raj who just seemed to enjoy the occasion despite losing to world No2 Laura Massaro.

The 18-year-old Vanessa, also from Penang, received a wildcard to compete in the main draw and gave a creditable performance despite losing 7-11, 4-11, 1-11 to the second-seeded Englishwoman.

Massaro will go on to meet England team-mate Jenny Duncalf in the second round. Duncalf, the former world No2 who played alongside Massaro when England won the 2001 World Junior Team Championships in the same arena, was sublime as she eliminated Kiwi qualifier Megan Craig 11-8, 11-4, 11-3.

Egypt's third seed Raneem El Welily; seventh seed Madeline Perry, from Ireland; India's 10th seed Dipika Pallikal; and 15th seed Sarah-Jane Perry from England all made the second round in straight games.

The Perry pair (no relation) will meet each other for a place in the quarter-finals.

Official event website: www.simplythebest.my/

 

1st Round Top Half
 

Thousands Cheer Penang Star Nicol David Onto Opening World Success

After a sparkling opening ceremony for the Penang CIMB Women's World Squash Championship which attracted a huge crowd of over 3,000 spectators, Penang's world number one Nicol David provided the perfect response with a straight games win in her opening match in the premier Women's Squash Association (WSA) event at the SPICE Arena in Penang, Malaysia

Despite a cold start against Emma Beddoes, the world No22 from England, the seven-time world champion didn't disappoint - stepping up her game to win 11-9, 11-5, 11-8.

"It's amazing to have so many people here on the first round of the worlds," said defending champion David (pictured above in action with Beddoes) with her eye on a record eighth title. "It's really thanks to the crowd that I managed to pull through."

Meanwhile the day's action was off to an explosive start with three seeds getting knocked out in the first round.

Hong Kong's 11th seed Annie Au, 12th seed Kasey Brown of Australia and 14th seed Rachael Grinham, also of Australia, were all early victims.

Au came into the tournament high on confidence following a final appearance at the Cleveland Classic last month, in which she defeated England's top three players - Laura Massaro, Alison Waters and Jenny Duncalf.

But she was not prepared for feisty Egyptian qualifier Heba El Torky who played the match of her life, staying calm and focused for a 13-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-8 win.

The 23-year-old Heba, who has already won two Tour titles this year, will be Nicol's next opponent.

"I'm extremely happy ... words can't even describe how I feel right now," said the Alexandria-based El Torky. "I've never got through to the main draw of the worlds in the past and now to be in the top 16 is really unbelievable. It's definitely my best performance so far.

"The key was really staying came and listening to the advice of my coach. I tend to hit hard and without focus so staying calm really helped me through."

But while El Torky was in control of her match, Guyana's Nicolette Fernandes had to resort to her animal instincts to fight back from two games down before beating Grinham, the only other former world champion in the fray who made her debut in the event 20 years ago!

The world No.20 Fernandes dug deep before coming away with a 4-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-7 win over the 37-year-old Grinham.

"The key to winning was really me telling myself to be a lion on the court," said the 30-year-old Fernandes. "I was too passive at the start and I know I needed to get on it more and be an animal, growl more in order to win.

"But I'm really just relieved to win because it's not easy to come back from two down."

Fernandes will go on to meet France's world No6 Camille Serme in the second round. Serme earned a hard-fought 11-6, 12-10, 11-7 win over 14-year-old qualifier Habiba Mohamed Ahmed Alymohmed of Egypt.

The third upset saw three-time world junior champion Nour El Sherbini - playing in only her fourth tournament since a lengthy injury layoff - beat WSA president Brown 12-10, 12-10, 8-11, 11-5.

There were also wins for fourth seed Alison Waters of England, fifth seed Joelle King of New Zealand and 13th seed Omneya Abdel Kawy of Egypt.

Earlier, the 3,000 spectators, probably one of the biggest for squash in recent times, were treated to a grand opening ceremony with fireworks, 3D mapping projection and vertical walkway.

The Malaysian crowd will still have more to cheer with world No7 Low Wee Wern due to take the courts against Australia's Donna Urquhart on Wednesday.


Official event website:
www.simplythebest.my/
 

Qualifying

Egyptian Quartet Storms Into World Championship Main Draw

Led by 14-year-old sensation Habiba Mohamed Ahmed Alymohmed, four Egyptians stormed into the main draw of the Penang CIMB Women's World Squash Championship after successes in today's qualifying finals of the premier Women's Squash Association (WSA) event at the Nicol David International Squash Centre in Penang, Malaysia.

A day after dumping higher-ranked Malaysian No3 Delia Arnold in the second qualifying round, teenager Mohamed was in good shape as she defeated Holland's Milou van der Heijden of the Netherlands in four games.

The four-time British Junior Open champion dropped the first game against the 23-year-old Dutch national champion, ranked 51 in the world, but recovered strongly to win 10-12, 13-11, 11-8, 11-6.

And the reward for Habiba - who has been enjoying an outstanding week of squash, further demonstrating her ability on the world stage - will be a meeting in the main draw with world No6 Camille Serme of France.

"My performance today was not really up to par even though it was not as tough as facing Delia," said the Alexandria-based Habiba. "I was not really concentrating at first and that made me lose the first game but I recovered well.

"I'm really happy to win because it was my target to make the main draw and I managed to achieve that. Right now I just want to soak in the experience, and if I beat anyone else, it's a huge bonus for me," added Habiba.

Three more Egyptians - all young and talented players, Nour El Tayeb, Heba El Torky and Salma Hany Ibrahim - also came through their final qualifying matches.

17-year-old Salma took 43 minutes to end the hopes of Japanese No1 Misaki Kobayashi, who was fiercely backed by the home crowd, winning 11-8, 11-9, 11-9.

Second qualifying seed El Tayeb also didn't sweat too much in beating Australia's Lisa Camilleri 12-10, 11-6, 11-5 - although El Torky had to slog before overcoming Welsh opponent Deon Saffery 11-6, 9-11, 11-8, 15-13 in 61 minutes.

Another significant result saw New Zealand's 21-year-old Megan Craig end the challenge of South Korea's Eun Chan Ahn in five games.

Craig who is set to follow in the footsteps of compatriot and world No5 Joelle King won 11-8, 6-11, 12-14, 11-3, 11-7, and will go on to meet ninth seed Jenny Duncalf of England in the first round of the main draw.

"It was tiring after beating Emily (Whitlock) yesterday and I felt it in my legs," said Ahn, bidding to become the first Korean to make the event's main draw. "Despite leading 2/1, my legs were unable to push on and it's sad because I would have wanted to be in the main draw too."

The others who also made it through to the main draw are Canada's Samantha Cornett, Wales number one Tesni Evans and England's Lisa Aitken.

Meanwhile the home crowd will finally get to see world No1 and defending champion Nicol David in action.

The seven-time world champion will take to the glass court at 9.30pm after the opening ceremony at the SPICE Arena. She will face England's Emma Beddoes.

Low Wee Wern, the world No7 and another Penang favourite, will be in action on Wednesday, against Australia's Donna Urquhart.

Official event website: www.simplythebest.my/
 

Habiba Stuns Top Local Hope To Make Penang Qualifying Finals

Egyptian teen sensation Habiba Mohamed Ahmed Alymohmed despatched top local hope Delia Arnold in today's second day of qualifying action in the Penang CIMB Women's World Squash Championship to claim an unexpected place in the qualifying finals of the premier Women's Squash Association (WSA) event at the Nicol David International Squash Centre in Penang, Malaysia.

Still only 14 years old and already a four-time British Junior Open champion, Mohamed gave the strong home crowd something to ponder upon as she scored a convincing 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 11-4 win over the qualifying draw's highest-ranked Malaysian in 46 minutes.

It was a pulsating match which kept the crowd on their toes - but it was also a big blow to the recently-married Delia, ranked 37 in the world, as she struggles with her form.

But Habiba, the world No54, certainly deserves the plaudits as she seeks to follow in the footsteps of compatriots Raneem El Welily and Nour El Sherbini who have made the mark on the senior stage.

"It was really exciting to beat a great player like Delia," said Habiba. "My main was to make the main draw and I am now one step closer. If I can get that far it's really good enough for me."

Habiba will go on to meet Dutchwoman Milou van der Heijden for a place in the main draw. The world No.51 from Eindhoven got the better of Malaysian Pushppa Devi, winning 13-11, 11-8, 11-1 in 21 minutes.

There were a further two notable upsets - none more so than the 10-12, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 victory in 60 minutes achieved by unheralded South Korean Eun Chan Ahn over England's Emily Whitlock, the world No25 and top seed in the qualifying draw.

The Seoul-born 28-year-old made an impressive WSA World Tour comeback earlier this month in the Malaysian Tour Squash Circuit 1 after a four-month absence - winning the title as the No8 seed!

Furthermore, 19-year-old Aparajitha Balamurukan of India got the better of experienced world No.48 Kylie Lindsay when she beat the 30-year-old from New Zealand 11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 5-11, 11-5. Ranked 104 in the world, Balamurukan becomes the lowest-ranked player through to the qualifying finals.

Qualifying second seed Nour El Tayeb however had no such problems as the Egyptian brushed aside the challenge of Malaysian junior Aika Azman with an 11-3, 11-4, 11-6 win in 17 minutes.

"Not my best performance, but it was good experience for me," said 17-year-old Aika. "It was also nice that us juniors got a taste of what the world championships felt like."

It was a bad day for the hosts, with all nine Malaysians in contention bowing out.

Penang lass Celine Yeap gave the best fight but was still no match for Tesni Evans, losing 6-11, 5-11, 11-9, 6-11 to her Welsh opponent.

The first round of the main draw will start on Tuesday at the Subterranean Penang International Conference & Exhibition Centre (SPICE Arena).

Official event website: www.simplythebest.my/

 

Malaysian Octet Survive First World Championship Qualifiers In Penang

Led by Asian Youth Games gold medallists Rachel Arnold and Celine Yeap, eight Malaysians survived today's first qualifying round of the Penang CIMB Women's World Squash Championship, the $120,000 Women's Squash Association (WSA) event at the Nicol David International Squash Centre in Penang, Malaysia.

Arnold, who turns 18 in April, put in a solid performance to see off a gutsy challenge from compatriot Sara Chew Rou-Yi.

Rachel, the younger sister of Malaysian No.3 Delia Arnold, won her match 14-12, 11-3, 11-2 in 20 minutes.

"This is the biggest event for me this year and my career as well so I was a little nervous in the beginning," said the world No.70.

"I struggled a little but I managed to bring myself back in the second game and I pretty much settled down after that.

"I will be facing Egypt's Heba El Torky next, so it's not the best draw for me. But I will try my best and hopefully aim for a shot at making the main draw," added Rachel.

The 23-year-old El Torky, who is the world No.31 and third seed in the qualifiers, received a first round bye.

Local lass Celine, who along with Rachel played a crucial role in winning the team gold for Malaysia at the AYG last August, also looked sharp as she edged out another Penangite, Lim Jee Nee, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7 in 25 minutes.

Yeap who is ranked No.115 in the world will go on to meet world No.35 Tesni Evans of Wales next.

The other Malaysians who made it past the first round include British Junior U15 champion S Sivasangari, Aika Azman, Zulhijjah Binti Azan, Zoe Foo, Teh Min Jie and Pushppa Devi.

Foo had to fight back from two games down to overcome compatriot Teh Min Ern 5-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-3, 11-8.

India's Aparajitha Balamurukan also staged a might comeback, recovering from a 0/2 deficit to see off Malaysia's Andrea Lee 8-11, 7-11, 11-2, 11-9, 11-9 in 45 minutes.

The highlight of the day was certainly the performance of 15-year-old Satomi Watanabe who nearly upstaged the more experienced Zulhijjah Azan before going down in five games.

Watanabe, who hails from Japan but trains in Penang, was a handful for 23-year-old world No.64 Zulhijjah, before eventually losing 11-8, 7-11, 6-11, 11-6, 13-11 in 54 minutes.

Top seed Emily Whitlock of England and second seed Nour El Tayeb of Egypt both received first round byes.
 

Preview

Brown Bidding To Extend Australian Record In Penang

Former world No5 Kasey Brown is leading the Australian attack in next week's Penang CIMB Women's World Squash Championship in Malaysia and hoping to extend the country's record of seven winners of the premier event on the Women's Squash Association (WSA) World Tour.

The $120,000 championship is being staged in Penang for the first time in its 35-year history. After qualifying at the Nicol David International Squash Centre, the first round gets underway on an all-glass showcourt at the SPICE Arena on Tuesday (18 March), leading to the final on Sunday 23 March.

Australia's legendary Heather McKay became the inaugural women's world champion in 1979, and was followed by a distinguished line of fellow Australian winners including Rhonda Thorne, Vicki Cardwell, three-time champion Michelle Martin, Carol Owens, five times champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Rachael Grinham.

"I feel my form has been good leading into the World Championships but the level of the WSA players is increasing so rapidly, which is great for the sport," said Brown (pictured above) as she prepared to travel to Penang.

"The competition is tough so it will be a very exciting event. Squash is a constant learning process and is why the game is so great.

"Every game you play gives you a little more insight into what you need to do to improve and you have to take that information and apply it to your training and upcoming matches."

Brown, the No12 seed, will face Egypt's Nour El Sherbini in the World Championship's first round.

El Sherbini is unseeded for this event, but in their two meetings last year the Egyptian triumphed over the Australian.

Brown's three first-round losses this year stands in stark contrast to her barnstorming start to 2013, when she made the final of the Tournament of Champions and the semis at the Greenwich Open.

It's not that her form has dropped off. It's more a reflection of the extraordinary depth in women's squash now.

"You can't just look at the top five because there are so many dangerous players on the women's tour," said the 28-year-old, currently ranked 14 in the world.

"It's about being consistent and that is why the top five are ranked where they are."

It's been an interesting journey for the girl from Taree in New South Wales who now calls Greenwich in the United States home.

She fell in love with the sport helping her mum out at the local squash court she managed, and quickly progressed through the Australian junior and senior rankings.

In January, Brown was elected President of the Women's Squash Association, a role she's really looking forward to.

Brown, winner of three medals including gold in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, was a logical choice for the role. She's shown in the past she's prepared to stand up for herself and for women's squash generally, and is setting some pretty important goals for her term in the top job.

"I've learnt a lot since being elected as the President of WSA and have been overwhelmed by the amount of support the association has received," Brown said.

"It is challenging but everyone has the sport's best interest at heart and wants to see the tour and squash as a whole grow and evolve. My aim is to grow the tour and the sport and see players rewarded more for all of the hard work they put in.

"WSA aims to work closely with all Associations to increase the profile of the sport and I'd love to see the sport be granted a place in the Olympics."

Two other Australians have made the main draw in Penang: Queensland's former world number one Rachael Grinham and Donna Urquhart from New South Wales - ranked 15 and 26, respectively, in the world.

Next week marks a significant milestone for Grinham: it's 20 years this year since she contested her first World Championship.

Matches from the first round will be streamed live via the official event website www.simplythebest.my/
 

Whitlock & El Tayeb Head World Championship Qualifying Draw

Players from 16 nations - covering five continents - will be fighting for the eight qualifying slots in next week's Penang CIMB Women's World Squash Championship in Penang, Malaysia, according to the draw released today by the Women's Squash Association (WSA).

Qualifying in the $120,000 event gets underway at the Nicol David International Squash Centre this Saturday before main draw action moves to the SPICE Arena from Tuesday (18 March) when play will be conducted on an all-glass showcourt through to the final on Sunday 23 March.

England's Emily Whitlock (pictured above) is the top seed in the qualifying competition. The 20-year-old world No25 from Colwyn Bay in Wales is bidding to make her World Championship debut. After a bye in the first round, Whitlock takes on the winner of the match between local hope Nur Aliah Anis and Korea's Eun Chan Ahn, winner of the Malaysian Tour Squash Circuit 1 earlier in the month.

Egypt's Nour El Tayeb is the highest-ranked player in the qualifying draw. The 21-year-old world No18 from Cairo also has a bye in the opening round before beginning her world championship campaign against either of the Malaysian teenagers Aika Azman or Ooi Kah Yan.

A successful qualifying campaign in Penang will see El Tayeb (pictured above) make a fifth successive appearance in the event's first round since 2009.

Penang Powerhouse David Set For Eighth
World Title At Home

After an unprecedented 25-match unbeaten run in the event since 2007, world number one Nicol David is set to begin her bid for a record eighth title in the Penang Women's World Squash Championship when she faces England's Emma Beddoes in the first round of the premier WSA World Tour event which is being staged in Penang, Malaysia, from 15-23 March.

Boasting a $120,000 prize-fund, the joint Women's Squash Association (WSA) and World Squash Federation (WSF) championship opens at the Nicol David International Squash Centre before moving onto an all-glass showcourt at the 10,000-seater Penang International Sports Arena.

Success in the event will fulfil a lifelong dream for the Malaysian squash queen to win a senior world title in front of a home crowd in Penang.

Today's draw in Penang lined home favourite David up against world No23 Beddoes for their first meeting for more than three years. A likely second round meeting with Asian rival Annie Au, the No11 seed from Hong Kong, could lead to the predicted quarter-final clash with eighth seed Camille Serme, the world No8 from France whom David has faced five times in the past seven months!

David is drawn in the same half as England's world No4 Alison Waters - and is expected to face world No2 Laura Massaro, also from England, in a repeat of the 2012 final.

David will be supported in the event by fellow Penangite Low Wee Wern, the sixth seed who begins her campaign against Australia's Donna Urquhart.

Tour veteran Rachael Grinham will be celebrating a notable milestone in Penang after making her World Championship debut 20 years ago in the 1994 championship in Guernsey. The 37-year-old 14th seed and former world number one from Australia - winner of the title in 2007 - takes on Guyana's world No19 Nicolette Fernandes in the first round.

For all the latest WSA Tour news: www.wsaworldtour.com