Malaysia’s World No.48 Sivasangari Subramaniam caused the biggest upset on day one of the 2019-20 CIB PSA Women’s World Championship as she shocked United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy at Cairo’s Shooting Club 6th of October to claim her first ever win over a top 10 player.
The 20-year-old from Sungai Petani Kedah put in some noteworthy performances at the U.S. Open earlier this month – beating England’s Alison Waters and testing World No.7 Sarah-Jane Perry – but she outlined her credentials as one to watch in the future with an 9-11, 11-9, 6-11, 12-10, 11-6 triumph over Sobhy in 51 minutes.
Sobhy, whose father hails from Egypt, struggled from the beginning of the match and didn’t seem her usual self on court, but the World No.8 fought on to go 2-1 up and 6-1 up in the fourth. But her energy levels dropped and she finally succumbed to fatigue as Subramaniam put her through her paces to come back and win the tie-break, before finally getting the better of Sobhy in the decider to reach round two for the first time.
“It definitely means a lot to me getting the big win in my PSA career,” said Subramaniam afterwards.
“I’m really happy today and I gave it all I could. I was 6-1 down in the fourth and then I just tried to push myself because I was doing too many errors. I tried to hang in there and I ended up getting the win.
“I’m training under my coach, David Palmer, and he’s really working on my movement and squash tactics. I think it’s working, I’m happy with how I’m playing right now, so hopefully I can maintain and do better in the next round.”
That means Subramaniam is one win away from appearing on the iconic glass court in front of the stunning Great Pyramid of Giza – the only remaining ancient wonder of the world – which will be used from Saturday October 26 onwards. To get there, she must take on Dutchwoman Milou van der Heijden, who came from a game behind to beat Egypt’s Menna Nasser.
Elsewhere, defending champion Nour El Sherbini made her first appearance of the season after shaking off a knee injury to beat England’s Rachael Chadwick in straight games.
The World No.2 has missed out on appearing at the Oracle NetSuite Open and FS Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships in recent weeks due to the problem, but it took her just 25 minutes to overcome today’s opponent as she began her attempts to win the prestigious trophy for a fourth time after winning in 2015 and 2016, in addition to the 2018-19 event.
“I really missed the tour and the matches,” said El Sherbini, who will take on Canada’s Hollie Naughton in front of the Pyramids in round two.
“In the first game [my knee] was in my head a little bit, but I was running ok and it felt good. I didn’t have any problems and hopefully it is going to be like this the whole week.
“I’m really looking forward to playing in front of the Pyramids and this court is very special. You can play and see the Pyramids, so it is very special and I’m really looking forward to playing my next round there.”
World No.1 Raneem El Welily also began her attempts to win a second World Championship title after easing to an 11-3, 11-5, 11-4 victory over wildcard Sana Ibrahim.
El Welily became the first female squash player in history to win a trophy in front of the Pyramids when she won the Al Ahram Open in 2016, and will need to beat United States No.2 Olivia Blatchford Clyne in the next round if she is to compete in front of the landmark again this year.
“I’m looking forward to that [appearing in front of the Pyramids] but I’m just here now thinking about what I just did and what I should be doing to get to tomorrow’s match and hopefully I get through,” said Egypt’s El Welily afterwards.
“Sometimes there are nerves, sometimes I’m more motivated. It’s an emotional feeling [playing a World Championship on home soil] but I’m trying to keep positive and energised. These are exciting times for squash in Egypt, so I’m happy to be home.”
England No.1 Perry was another of the players to book her place in the last 32 as she overcame Jemyca Aribado, who became the first Filipino squash player in history to appear at the PSA Women’s World Championship.
“It’s amazing to see different countries coming into the sport and giving squash a go,” she said.
“It’s always interesting to play different players, it makes it a bit different and that’s something that’s special about the World Championships. There’s always that extra group of players that you’re not necessarily that familiar with. Although I’d seen her name on the Challenger Tour, I hadn’t actually seen her play before, which isn’t common.”
Perry – who beat the likes of legendary Malaysian Nicol David and France’s World No.4 Camille Serme during a breakthrough tournament last time she appeared in front of the Pyramids – will play 2007 World Champion Rachael Grinham in the last 32.
Elsewhere, South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller reached round two of this event for the first time after upsetting the higher-ranked Emily Whitlock, while Malaysia’s Aifa Azman and Hong Kong’s Ho Tze-Lok also caused upsets against Joey Chan and Mariam Metwally, respectively.
Round two begins on Friday October 25 at 12:45 (GMT+2), while the CIB Egyptian Squash Open – a men’s PSA Platinum tournament – gets under way tomorrow at the same venue, with play beginning at 12:00.