R1: Salma 3/0 Rachael in a tough battle

[13] Salma Hany (EGY) 3-0 Rachel Arnold (MAS) 11-6, 11-9, 11-9 (26m)
First game saw a good start from the Egyptian, 3/0, only to be caught up 3/4, but finding perfect length to close it 10/4 11/6.

The rest of the match was very close indeed. Not much between them, and I was impressed with Rachel’s game today. Her movement is superb, she is fighting on every point, and her backhand counter trickle boast made a lot of damage, not to mention her backhand volley drop.

Salma was extremely focused on court, from start to finish and she needed to be. Any loose shot, any short length, and Rachel was on it, putting the favourite under enormous pressure. It was a great battle, fair I thought, both girls looking to play the ball and not going for cheap calls. Rachel, a bit unlucky not to take at least a game, her level of performance today should have given her at least one… Excellent mental performance from Salma, that could easily have been a banana skin…

She’s got a very tricky racquet preparation, very hard to read, short preparation….

It’s the first round of the worlds, so I was a bit nervous, but I like the court, it suits me. There are a lot of nerves, but at the same time there is a lot of excitement and a lot of adrenaline. It’s a good thing for us Egyptians to have this tournament here in our home country, and hopefully it will be a good tournament for everyone.

Rachel just won her last two events, I knew she was playing very well, and I had to be prepared for this match, I knew I had to stay focused from the first to the last rally. I knew she could come back at any time, and that’s exactly what she did in the second and third, she really pushed very hard.

But I just kept fighting, I am feeling good on court, I was enjoying the long rallies, and would have been ready to play one or two more games if I had to, I was ready for the battle.

I enjoyed having my parents and coaches here, and I’m looking forward to the next round. It’s the biggest women’s tournament, and it’s in my home country, so I have everyone around. The presence of both my parents gave me a huge push today, I’m happy with the way I played, I am taking it day by day, and enjoying the tournament…

I know it would be a tough first round, Rachel has been playing really well and she has won her last two events, so I had to be focused from the first rally and prepare really well for the tournament. Of course, I was a bit nervous because it was the first round of the World Championship, but I’m glad I managed to get through in three, and I’m very happy with my performance.

It would mean a lot to perform in front of the Pyramids, in front of all my friends and family. It’s going to give me a huge push to win that match tomorrow, so I can make it to that amazing venue over there.”