Joelle King wins drama-filled clash in Egypt

By Kelvin McDonald
Source / Squash NZ

Joelle King (Ngāti Porou) has won a drama-filled second-round clash against Egyptian 20-year-old Farida Mohamed at a PSA World Tour tournament in Cairo overnight.

After a bye in the first round, King finally got the better of world no. 22 Mohamed following her opponent’s retirement in the fifth game through ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­injury.

King, the world no. 6, had fallen to Mohamed in both of their previous two meetings on the world tour, with Mohamed prevailing after five gruelling games on both occasions.

Both of those matches took place at Egypt's Black Ball Sporting Club – once in 2020 and again in 2021 – but the latest chapter of their annual battles at this tournament belongs to King after the Kiwi battled to an 11-8, 6-11, 11-8, 11-13, 9-3 victory.

King took the opening game after finding a consistent line and length and she profited off a series of errors from her opponent, who took a while to settle.

The New Zealander started the second well too as she took a 5-2 lead, but from that point it was all about Mohamed, who stepped up the court and attacked to win nine of the next 10 points on offer, levelling the scores in the process.

King recovered to take the third until, at 5-3 up in the fourth, she was caught in the face by Mohamed’s racket on the follow-through. The 33-year-old required treatment from the physio and returned to court after a 15-minute break.

The pair played two further rallies, at which point Mohamed suffered a knee injury when returning a backhand drive and crumpled to the floor. A 10-minute break then ensued as Mohamed received treatment for her injury, but the Egyptian returned to court and fought on through the pain barrier.

It took King a while to get going again as Mohamed defied the odds to force a decider, but she broke down during the fifth game and was forced to concede the match, handing King a place in the last 16, where she will face Belgium’s Nele Gilis.

“I don’t really know how to feel after that. It’s a bit of a weird one to win a match that had so much disruption. Obviously, I hope she’s ok, because she was really struggling with her knee, there was a lot happening. I’m just pleased to be playing tomorrow, to live another day and another match. Hopefully, it’ll be free-flowing tomorrow," King said.

“It’s been a long time since I played Nele (Gilis), I’m excited. I enjoy playing different players. Sometimes in tournaments, you play the same people a lot so it’s nice to have a different challenge. Obviously, she brings a lot of physicality to the court, hopefully, tonight I can recover from today and come and play my best squash.”