Day One Roundup

Wildcard Elnawasany causes upset as CIB Egyptian Open begins

The 2021 CIB Egyptian Open, PSA World Tour Platinum tournament got under way at the New Giza Sporting Club with wildcard Yahya Elnawasany causing the day’s biggest upset as he took out Pakistan’s Tayyab Aslam in four games.

World No.74 Elnawasany – from Cairo – will appear in the second round of a PSA Platinum event for the first time after he came back from a game down to win 9-11, 11-1, 11-4, 11-8 against World No.46 Aslam.

“I think my mum must be jumping up and down with joy,” Elnawasany said following the match.

“It’s crazy, I just came here to prove myself. Two or three weeks ago, I lost in the Wadi Degla tournament, I played two 5K tournaments and I was bad in both. The level was not that high, so to be honest, I was about to quit squash.

“I played here 2 years ago in Al-Ahram, but it was my first time and I was not really up for it. But this time, I am taking it for real, I had a great opportunity to play Tayyab and not a top seed, so I saw that as an opportunity and I had to take it.”

Elnawasany will play compatriot Mazen Hesham in round two and he will be joined in the last 32 by fellow Egyptian Youssef Soliman, who overturned a 2-0 deficit against Frenchman Auguste Dussourd to avoid a surprise defeat.

Soliman – who rose 10 places to break into the men’s top 20 this month – was in hot water after a slow start, but he fought back to take three games without reply, and he will take on World No.4 Tarek Momen next.

“Today I am not happy with my game at all,” said Soliman.

“When I found myself at 2-0 down I said ‘alright, here we go” and I just kept hitting the ball hard, trying to get into it. That’s part of the tournament sometimes to try and just find a way. I kept grinding, grinding, and eventually it worked.”

Spain’’s Iker Pajares is also through in five after avoiding a scare against Hong Kong’s Tsz Kwan Lau, while Mexico’s Cesar Salazar returned to the tour after a 10-month absence, requiring five games to see off the threat of Henry Leung.

In the women’s event, Switzerland’s Cindy Merlo has reached the last 32 of a Platinum event for the first time in her career following a hard-fought 3-2 win over local player Mayar Hany.

World No.49 Merlo came from behind twice to secure victory and her reward is a second round encounter with England’s Lucy Turmel.

“I keep coming to these tournaments and I never manage to win the first round,” Merlo said afterwards.

“So already, I was sort of emotional. I was thinking this could be happening, this could be possible, and at other times, it was ‘oh, there we go, as usual, it’s not going to work, I’m not playing well today’. I just had to keep fighting for myself, I am overwhelmed, I’m not sure what happened or how I won the match.”

Scotland’s Lisa Aitken also took part in an exciting five-game thriller as she finally got the better of World No.60 Sana Ibrahim with an 11-0 triumph in the decider.

“I hadn’t played a match for a while, so the fact it went to five gave me a bit of practice, and I’m happy with the way I played in that fifth game,” Aitken said.

“She might not have the most skilful attributes but actually everything else she does have makes her very dangerous. I really admire all the young Egyptians, they each possess weapons of their own.”