Rachel stuns world No 7 Rowan in Cairo

KUALA LUMPUR: Women’s national No 3 Rachel Arnold marked a return to Professional Squash Association (PSA) Tour action in style by storming into the third round of the Egyptian Open.

The world No 34, whose last PSA tournament was the El Gouna International in June, was in top form as she stunned world No 7 Rowan Elaraby of Egypt 12-10, 8-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-2 in the second round in Cairo on Tuesday.

Rachel, who had performed above expectations to clinch the women’s doubles bronze with Aifa Azman at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last month, started strongly as she nicked the first game 12-10 before pushing on for a 2-1 lead.

Seventh seed Rowan, however, pegged her back by taking the fourth game 11-8 to force a deciding rubber.

But Rachel, who had beaten local wildcard Nour Heikal 18-16, 10-12, 11-3, 11-2 in the first round, upped her tempo in the fifth and comfortably took the game 11-2 to seal victory after 51 minutes.

It is certainly a huge achievement for Rachel as she claimed her biggest career scalp to date yet.

She now holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Rowan, having last beaten her in the semi-finals of the Malaysian Open in 2019.

The Kuala Lumpur-born moves on to face Wales’ Tesni Evans in the third round.

And she will be quietly confident with her chances, having recently beaten the world No 18 at the Commonwealth Games.

“Its good to be back competing on the PSA, but I felt a little nervous in the first round,” said Rachel.

“But against Rowan I knew I had nothing to lose so I just went in there and gave it everything I had.

“And it definitely feels great to win because Rowan is a top player but I felt a bit more comfortable on court today (Tuesday).

“This is a big event so getting past the first two rounds makes me really happy, and I’m looking forward to the third round.”

In the men’s event, national No 1 Ng Eain Yow came up short as he went down 11-7, 11-7, 5-11, 11-9 to Egyptian world No 9 Marwan Elshorbagy.


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