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The University Club of Chicago’s stunning Cathedral Hall played host to one of the matches of the season so far earlier today as World No.3 Camille Serme overcame Egypt’s Hania El Hammamy in a thrilling 81-minute encounter to reach the quarter-finals of the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family.
El Hammamy had completed an incredible comeback from two games down when the pair met in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza in the quarter-finals of November’s CIB PSA Women’s World Championship, leaving Serme devastated. But in Chicago, the French star avenged that loss to take a nail-biting 11-7, 10-12, 7-11, 14-12, 11-9 victory.
“I knew it was going to be a battle,” said Serme.
“She is top 10 now, but she can beat anyone in the top 10, so I knew it was going to be hard. I was focused on what to do on court, what the right tactics were and trying to play the best that I could. At the end it could have gone either way.
“I tried to forget about the Pyramids, but I tried to remember what I did wrong and what she did well, to try and avoid her playing her best. It has always been amazing, the standard of women’s squash, but now it is the best it has ever been. The top 20, top 30, everyone is so good.”
Serme comes into this tournament off the back of beating World Champion Nour El Sherbini to win the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions last month, and she will go head-to-head with Egyptian once again after El Sherbini defeated Australia’s Donna Lobban in straight games.
El Sherbini is appearing at only her third tournament of the season due to a persistent knee injury and she struggled with her movement early, cutting a frustrated figure as Lobban took early control. The World No.4 showcased her immaculate racket skills though in the next three games as she closed out an 5-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 triumph.
“I am happy to be through, and maybe I was not like I am usually, but I am very happy to be through to the quarters,” four-time World Champion El Sherbini said.
“Having my coach and Raneem [El Welily] there, their support helped me a lot, and having them there tonight helped me through to win. They [Serme and El Hammamy[ had a very tough match, a long one. I am sure she is going to be ready tomorrow as if it was the first match of the tournament.”
World No.21 Rowan Elaraby is into her first ever Windy City Open quarter-final after she defeated England’s Lucy Turmel, and her last eight opponent will be World No.7 Sarah-Jane Perry, who ground out a 3-2 win after a scrappy match against Egypt’s Yathreb Adel.
Results – Women’s Third Round (Bottom Half): 2020 Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family
Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt Lucy Turmel (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-7, 11-1 (29m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt  Yathreb Adel (EGY) 3-2: 7-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5, 11-9 (84m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt  Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-2: 11-7, 10-12, 7-11, 14-12, 11-9 (81m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Donna Lobban (AUS) 3-1: 5-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 (33m)
Draw – Women’s Quarter-Finals: To Be Played March 2nd
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v  Olivia Blatchford Clyne (USA)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
Rowan Elaraby (EGY) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)