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Sunday, 19 January 2020

Back to the Pyramids

The world’s leading female players will descend on the Pyramids of Giza next week for the CIB PSA Women’s World Championship, Inas Mazhar reports

Inas Mazhar , Tuesday 22 Oct 2019
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It has been a long time since the Pyramids plateau at Giza has been a venue for a squash championship. The late 1990s and early 2000s saw annual men’s and women’s international championships under the name Al-Ahram Open. Some wonderful matches took place at such a spectacular venue.

Now, after almost more than a decade, the glass court will once again be installed in that historic site as it hosts the 35th edition of the Women’s World Championship, with 64 of the world’s best female players taking part in the seven-day event.

Last month, the draws were held for the CIB PSA Women’s World Championships and the CIB Egyptian Squash Open PSA Platinum event at a press conference held live in Egypt.

The 2019-20 CIB PSA Women’s World Championship is the world’s most prestigious women’s squash tournament and will be held in front of the iconic Great Pyramid of Giza – the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – from 24 October to 1 November.

Competing will be the likes of Egyptian world No 1 Raneem Al-Welili, reigning world champion Nour Al-Sherbini, French world No 3 Camille Serme and British Open champion Nouran Gohar, all set to feature at the Pyramids which will host a World Championship for the first time since 2006.

The men’s CIB Egyptian Squash Open will be held alongside the CIB PSA Women’s World Championship, from 25 October to 1 November. The men’s tournament would be a great opportunity for the world’s top players to warm up for the PSA Men’s World Championship which is scheduled to be held in Doha, Qatar, from 8-15 November.

The past editions of the PSA Women’s World Championship have seen some thrilling clashes among the world’s elite players. The PSA has therefore took a look back at some classic encounters from over the years. Interestingly, most of the semi-finals and finals have involved Egyptians and in most cases it was either an all-Egyptian final or an Egyptian against a European, testimony to how dominant Egypt has become in world squash.

The 2018-2019 Women’s World Championship semi-finals involved Al-Welili vs Nour Al-Tayeb and Serme vs Al-Sherbini. Both of the semi-finals from the 2018-2019 PSA World Championships were five-game epics, lasting around an hour.

The first clash saw Al-Welili take on Al-Tayeb, with the world No 1 aiming to make a second straight final. The second semi-final saw Serme take on Al-Sherbini. The Frenchwoman was aiming to reach her first world championship final, while the ‘Warrior Princess’ was on course for a third title.

The 2017 Women’s World Championship semi-final was also an all-Egyptian game between Al-Tayeb and Al-Sherbini in Manchester.

Al-Sherbini was aiming to reach her fourth final with the goal of claiming her third title, while Al-Tayeb was looking to secure her place in a world championship final for the first time.

Al-Sherbini came into the 2016 final as the defending champion and the world No 1. She also featured in the 2015 Women’s World Championship final against Laura Massaro which was a rematch of the 2013 final. Massaro and Al-Sherbini faced off, with the Egyptian looking for revenge over the former world No 1.

Malaysia’s Nicol David and Al-Welili battled it out in 2014. David came into the 2014 final looking for a record eighth world championship title while Al-Welili was looking to become the first Egyptian to win the world crown.

The 2013 Women’s World Championship final featured Massaro vs Al-Sherbini. Both women came into this world championship final looking for their first crown. For Al-Sherbini, she had the pressure of Egypt waiting for their first female champion.

 

*A version of this article appears in print in the 24 October, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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