Report courtesy of the Women’s Squash Association.
The world’s top two squash players will contest the final of the Women’s Cleveland Classic after Malaysia’s world number one Nicol David and Egypt’s Raneem El Welily, the world No. 2, prevailed in contrasting semifinals of the WSA International 50 event celebrating its fifth year at Cleveland Racquet Club in Cleveland, Ohio.
In their twenty-first WSA World Tour clash this millennium, David dispatched unseeded Egyptian Omneya Abdel Kawy 11-8, 11-2, 11-7 in twenty-seven minutes in the thirty-one-year-old from Penang’s third successive straight games win in the championship.
Ranked nine in the world—her highest ranking for more than three years—Abdel Kawy is enjoying one of the best runs of her career. But the twenty-nine-year-old from Cairo had no answer to David’s dominant play.
“Have to trust it will come together if you stick to it,” said the Malaysian super star who this month celebrated her 106th month at the top of the world rankings, becoming the longest-reigning world number one of all-time.
“These guys are so tough,” added David. “They’re always out to get you!”
The seedings suggested an upset in the other semi—but the latest rankings predicted the outcome. El Welily, the third seed ranked two in the world, took on England’s Laura Massaro, the No. 2 seed and the former world No. 2 in a match which truly went the full distance.
It was a match of constantly-changing leads—El Welily having three game-balls in the first game which Massaro won; the Egyptian cruising to a second game win; and the Englishwoman fighting back from 5-8 down in the third to take it after a lengthy tie-break and move 2-1 ahead.
And after El Welily drew level following the fourth game, it was Massaro who reached match-ball first in the decider at 10-7—but the Egyptian who dug deep to save those three match-balls before finally prevailing 11-13, 11-7, 13-15, 11-9, 12-10 to earn her place in the final.
“I don’t feel confident hitting the ball early, but I had to do that today!” admitted twenty-six-year-old El Welily later. “Kawy told me I had to!”
Massaro told her Twitter followers later: “Wow disappointed is an understatement! I lost 12-10 in the fifth to Raneem having had three match balls. Great match by both of us! #progress”
The triumph takes El Welily into her third successive WSA Tour final, and immediately follows her surprise title success in last month’s JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York.
The milestone marks the twenty-third Tour final of the Egyptian’s career—but the earlier semifinal success takes David into her ninety-eighth final, where she will be looking for her seventy-ninth title!
Watch the final streamed live at 6:15PM EST between Nicol David and Raneem El Welily. Click the following link and follow the instructions: Cleveland Classic Squash Final 2015.