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Wednesday March 28, 2012

Tennis lover Sherbini draws comparisons with Malaysian squash queen Nicol

KUALA LUMPUR: Nour El Sherbini still can’t figure out what made her take up squash.

Sherbini is a self-confessed tennis lover and readily admits that she admires Swiss star Roger Federer.

But tennis is not huge in Egypt and, at the age of six, she followed her brother and cousin to the squash courts and eventually picked up the sport.

In 2009, Sherbini created history when she became the youngest ever female to win the women’s world juniors title – at the tender age of just 13 years old.

She loves FedEx: Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini in action during the second qualifying round of the CIMB Nicol David KL Open Tuesday. —ROHAIZAT MD DARUS/The Star

“I really love tennis. Given a choice, I would have opted for tennis ... not squash. I just don’t know why I love tennis so much,” said Sherbini. “Tennis is not big in Egypt and my brother and cousin both play squash.

“I just picked it up when I was six after watching them play and somehow just felt comfortable with it.

“Now that I’ve won a world juniors title, everything seems to be falling in place and I have no regrets now for choosing to follow the life of a squash player.”

The 16-year-old Sherbini has since gone on to build a reputation as one of the future stars of the sport, with several quarters even comparing her to Malaysian squash queen Nicol David.

Yesterday, the powerfully-built Sherbini displayed the same type of grit and tenacity so typical of Nicol as she claimed a major upset in the form of world No. 12 Joelle King to reach the main draw of the CIMB Nicol David KL Open.

Despite being 2-1 down and trailing 8-10 in the fourth set, Sherbini staged a memorable fightback to win 11-5, 10-12, 4-11, 12-10, 11-8 in exactly two hours.

That fighting display has earned her a clash with world No. 2 Jenny Duncalf in the first round of the main draw today.

“At 8-10 down in the fourth set, I had no pressure so I just kept going and pushed Joelle hard,” said Sherbini.

“It’ll be a massive match against Jenny because she’s number two in the world and I’ve played her before and I just want to enjoy my game.”

Meanwhile, it was a disappointing day for Malaysia as none of the 17 entries in the qualifiers made it to the main draw.

In the men’s event, Kamran Khan and Mohd Asyraf Azan went down fighting to Englishman Adrian Waller and Hong Kong’s Leo Au respectively.

Another Malaysian, young Gurshan Singh, who received a free ride in the first qualifying round, also gave a good fight to Matthew Karwalski before succumbing 5-11, 7-11, 5-11.

In the women’s event, national No. 3 Delia Arnold suffered a blow to her head against Aussie Donna Urquhart and eventually lost focus to go down 11-13, 3-11, 11-3, 6-11 in 52 minutes.


Second qualifying round

Men: Abdullah Al Muzayen (Kuw) bt Zac Alexander (Aus) 11-9, 9-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-2; Adrian Waller (Eng) bt Kamran Khan (Mas) 11-1, 11-6, 11-8; Matthew Karwalski (Aus) bt Gurshan Singh (Mas) 11-5, 11-7, 11-5; Leo Au (Hkg) bt Mohd Asyraf Azan (Mas) 11-9, 11-7, 13-11.

Women: Nour El Sherbini (Egy) bt Joelle King (Nzl) 11-5, 10-12, 4-11, 12-10, 11-8; Donna Urquhart (Aus) bt Delia Arnold (Mas) 13-11, 11-3, 3-11, 11-6; Heba El Torky (Egy) bt Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl) 11-7, 7-11, 11-6, 12-10; Dipika Pallikal (Ind) bt Nour El Tayeb (Egy) 12-10, 5-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6.

Today’s fixtures

First round

(Matches start at 4pm)

Men: Karim Darwish (Egy) vs Gregoire Marche (Fra), Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) vs Leo Au (Hkg), Max Lee (Hkg) vs Adrian Waller (Eng), Ivan Yuen (Mas) vs Adrian Grant (Eng), Omar Mosaad (Egy) vs Tarek Momen (Egy), Saurav Ghosal (Ind) vs Abdullah Al Muzayen (Kuw), Ong Beng Hee (Mas) vs Matthew Karwalski (Aus), Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas) vs Mohd Azlan Iskandar (Mas).

Women: Nicol David (Mas) vs Donna Urquhart (Aus), Kasey Brown (Aus) vs Dipika Pallikal (Ind), Madeline Perry (Irl) vs Camille Serme (Fra), Raneem El Weleily (Egy) vs Low Wee Wern (Mas), Annie Au (Hkg) vs Natalie Grinham (Hol), Samantha Teran (Mex) vs Laura Massaro (Eng), Heba El Torky (Egy) vs Rachael Grinham (Aus), Nour El Sherbini (Egy) vs Jenny Duncalf (Eng).

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