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Egypt come from behind to win Squash World Cup

Egypt have been crowned the SDAT WSF Squash World Cup Champions after coming from behind to beat Malaysia in front of a capacity crowd in Chennai’s Express Avenue Mall.

The SDAT WSF Squash World Cup, which had not been played since 2011, was brought back this year with a number of exciting changes, including gender-balanced teams of two men and two women, scoring games to seven, and sudden death tiebreaks when scores are 6-6.

2011 winners Egypt’s title defence got off to the worst possible start against the No.4 seeds, who they beat 3-1 in the Pool Stage of the tournament.

Malaysia’s second string woman Xin Ying Yee – who lost 3-2 to Kenzy Ayman in the Pool Stage – gave her team a 1-0 lead with a 3-0 win over Ayman, with the 19-year-old saving four game balls and converting her own match ball in the third game.

World No.21 Aly Abou Eleinen restored parity for the top seeds with a battling 3-0 win over World No.134 Darren Pragasam in the men’s first string match.

This meant that, if Fayrouz Aboelkheir could avenge her Pool Stage 3-2 defeat to Aira Azman, Egypt would have an unassailable lead due to points being won by first string players being worth double.

To the delight of the Egyptian team, Aboelkheir was calmness personified, playing more of the clinical squash that saw her shock Satomi Watanabe in the semi final to take a 2-0 lead against Azman.

The Malaysian came back brilliantly in the third game, though, saving World Cup ball to keep Malaysia in the contest with a 7-6 win in the third game.

The 17-year-old came close to the unthinkable in the fourth game, when she saved five World Cup balls to force another sudden death tiebreak, but could not hold on, with Aboelkheir sinking to her knees as a stroke decision in her favour meant that she and her teammates would put their names alongside 2011 winners and squash royalty Raneem El Welily, Ramy Ashour, Karim Darwish and Mohamed ElShorbagy.

Afterwards, Aboelkheir said: “It wasn’t an easy match! Last time with Aira it was [very tough] and she beat me 3-2. This time, I had to keep my focus. In the last match [against Azman] I had a really bad day and put the team in a difficult position, so now knew I had to play really well and I’m really proud of each and every one of us, we fought really hard to get this title.”

Before the final, the 5-6 place and the 7-8 place playoffs took place at the Indian Squash Academy.

In the 5-6 place playoff, Australia came from behind to beat Colombia to finish fifth and meet their seeding. Despite the defeat, Colombia beat their seeding by two places with a 6th-place finish.

In the 7-8 place playoff, No.7 seeds South Africa overcame No.6 seeds Hong Kong, China.

At the prize ceremony, the Egypt, Malaysia, India and Japan teams were presented with medals and trophies by M.K. Stalin, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, who congratulated all the teams who had competed and thanked the World Squash Federation (WSF) for choosing India to host the SDAT Squash World Cup.

WSF President Zena Wooldridge added her congratulations and thanked all the teams who had competed for an incredible week of squash, as well as everyone the Squash Rackets Federation of India for their work in hosting and organising the event. 

She added: “I think you’ll agree we’ve witnessed an outstanding week of squash in Chennai. The new format has produced some really exciting squash and I hope you’ve enjoyed the whole experience and hospitality here in Chennai.” 

Result: SDAT WSF Squash World Cup Final

[1] Egypt 2-1 [4] Malaysia

Kenzy Ayman lost to Xin Ying Yee 0-3: 4-7, 5-7, 6-7 (17m)

Aly Abou Eleinen beat Darren Pragasam 3-0: 7-3, 7-6, 7-4 (26m)

Fayrouz Aboelkheir beat Aira Azman 3-1: 7-4, 7-5, 6-7, 7-6 (25m)

Karim El Hammamy v Sai Hung Ong – match withdrawn

Result: 5-6 Playoff

[5] Australia 2-1 [8] Colombia

Alex Haydon lost to Catalina Pelaez 2-3: 7-5, 5-7, 5-7, 7-2, 4-7 (29m)

Joseph White beat Felipe Tovar 3-0: 7-2, 7-3, 7-6 (19m)

Jessica Turnbull beat Laura Tovar 3-1: 3-7, 7-1, 7-6, 7-3 (22m)

Nicholas Calvert v Alfonso Marroquin – match withdrawn

Result: 7-8 Playoff

[7] South Africa beat [6] Hong Kong, China

Hayley Ward beat Toby Tse 3-1: 7-6, 7-4, 4-7, 7-5 (29m)

Dewald van Niekerk beat Andes Ling 3-0: 7-2, 7-5, 7-3 (25m)

Lizelle Muller lost to Heylie Fung 0-3: 3-7, 6-7, 4-7 (20m)

Jean-Pierre Brits beat Chung Yat Long 3-1: 4-7, 7-4, 7-5, 7-3 (23m)

Final Standings: 2023 SDAT WSF Squash World Cup

1 – Egypt

2 – Malaysia

3 – India

3 – Japan

5 – Australia

6 – Colombia

7 – South Africa

8 – Hong Kong, China

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