France’s World No.5 Camille Serme ended a seven-match losing streak against World No.1 Raneem El Welily earlier today at New York’s Grand Central Terminal to book her place in the semi-finals of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, PSA World Tour Platinum event.
Serme hadn’t beaten El Welily over a best-of-five games format since January 2013 and had only prevailed in three of their previous 20 encounters, surrendering a two-game lead the last time they met in the title decider of June’s CIB PSA World Tour Finals.
But, under the chandeliers of Grand Central’s stunning Vanderbilt Hall, the 30-year-old put in a composed, resilient performance to withstand El Welily’s shot-making efforts as Serme came back from 2-1 down to win 13-15, 11-4, 7-11, 11-5, 11-6.
“It’s funny because today I was the challenger and she had the pressure,” said an emotional Serme afterwards.
“It’s kind of easier to play your best squash because you think you have nothing to lose. You play free and I proved to myself that I can play those shots as well as they can do.
“It’s the kind of match you want to enjoy, I’m playing the World No.1 here in Grand Central, it’s going to be a great match. Raneem is the fairest player on tour so you know it’s going to be a clean and good match. I just enjoyed it so much and it’s not that often I beat Raneem, I think it’s only the fourth time in my career.”
2017 Tournament of Champions winner Serme will line up against another Egyptian, World No.3 Nouran Gohar, in the semi-finals after Gohar overcame England’s Alison Waters in straight games.
Meanwhile, 2018 runner-up Nour El Tayeb saw her tournament come to an end after a surprise defeat to World No.14 Salma Hany in their third round encounter.
El Tayeb had won all four of their previous meetings but looked out of sorts despite winning the opening game as Hany executed her game plan to perfection, The 23-year-old hit good lines and dominated the ’T’ to take away attacking opportunities from the World No.4 and she was rewarded with an 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9 victory to claim her first win over a player ranked inside the world’s top five.
“Nour is an amazing player and obviously she has been chopping me the last few times,” said Hany afterwards.
“Everyone knows that Nour can hit any shot from anywhere on the court, so I was just trying to minimise her options as much as I could. I didn’t feel like I did much wrong in the first, maybe I levelled up my accuracy a little and I stuck to the plan. She is such a fighter and kept coming back stronger and stronger in the fourth, but I’m glad I managed to get the win.”
Hany will clash with New Zealand’s Joelle King in the last eight, with King coming through to win in four games against India’s Joshna Chinappa.
US hopes were extinguished in the women’s event as US No.2 Olivia Blatchford Clyne went down to defending champion Nour El Sherbini, while Sabrina Sobhy saw her run come to an end against England’s Sarah-Jane Perry. El Sherbini and Perry will clash in the quarter-finals, with Perry aiming to extend a three-match winning run over the World No.2.
Results – Women’s Third Round (Bottom Half): 2020 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions
 Salma Hany (EGY) bt  Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-1: 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9 (41m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt  Joshna Chinappa (IND) 3-1: 9-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-3 (48m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Sabrina Sobhy (USA) 3-1: 11-13, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9 (42m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Olivia Blatchford Clyne (USA) 3-1: 14-12, 11-8, 6-11, 16-14 (53m)
Results – Women’s Quarter-Finals (Top Half): 2020 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt  Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-2: 13-15, 11-4, 7-11, 11-5, 11-6 (59m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt  Alison Waters (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-7 (39m)
Draw – Women’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half): To Be Played January 15th
 Salma Hany (EGY) v  Joelle King (NZL)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)
Draw – Women’s Semi-Finals (Top Half): To Be Played January 16th
 Camille Serme (FRA) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)