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Egypt lead the way in Brooklyn

Egypt’s Salma Hana Ibrahim in action. (AFP)
LONDON: The opening day of action at the 2017 Carol Weymuller Squash Open in Brooklyn saw an Egyptian clean sweep as qualifier Mariam Metwally and the ever-improving Salma Hana Ibrahim upset the seedings and the odds to down former World No.3 Alison Waters of England and top ranked Indian Joshna Chinappa, respectively.
Having come through two tough qualification encounters just to reach the main draw, including a five-game battle with Danielle Letourneau, Metwally looked to be up against it as she took on 2014 tournament winner Waters, who sits 15 positions above her on the PSA World Rankings at No. 8.
But the 20-year-old Egyptian started strong to sneak an opening game tie-break and repeated the feat in the third to once again open up an advantage over Waters. The Englishwoman responded in style again in the fourth but it was Metwally, coming back from 6-3 down, who managed to take it to set up a quarter-final showdown with Ibrahim, who also defied the odds to record her first ever win over Chinappa.
The duo had met six times previously, with Chinappa enjoying a 100 percent winning record, and she looked to be on her way to win No. 7 as she began the first game with a 9-1 advantage.
Ibrahim, who impressed at the recent US Open to defeat Sarah-Jane Perry and record her first round one win on a World Series glass court, managed to get into a rhythm to narrow the deficit only to lose 11-9. With little to separate them the next two games went to the wire, with Ibrahim winning the fist 13-11 before Chinappa restored her lead courtesy of a 16-14 third game.
But Ibrahim managed to come back again to take the fourth and come through 12-10 in a mammoth fifth game.
“I’m so relieved,” said Ibrahim. “I wasn’t sure how my body would carry me. In the fifth game when I was 9-5 and 10-8 down, I remembered my match with Laura when I was 9-6 down and I kept believing that something might happen. She might hit the tin and I might get lucky in a few points.
“That’s what I did when Joshna was 10-8 up. My mind wasn’t thinking and I just played and kept believing I could still make and I did. I have to play Mariam next and she is my childhood compatriot from 9-years-old but I’m just glad I’m playing one more day.”
The other matches on day one saw top seed and World No. 1 Nour El-Sherbini and recent US Open Champion Nour El-Tayeb come through their first round encounters in straight-games to set up a compelling last eight battle.
“I was very nervous before this match with huge expectations after last week,” said El Tayeb, who beat Dutch player Milou van der Heijden. “I had to tell myself that it was just another match. I was very excited and nervous to play another match and I’m just trying to enjoy playing and put the results aside.”