Egyptian Raneem El Welily, world. No. 3 and recent CIMB Malaysian Open winner, can't wait to get back on the courts at Drexel University for the U.S. Open this October.
Just one week ago, El Welily dethroned reigning Malaysian Open queen and world No. 1, Nicol David, in the semifinals, in five games. El Welily triumphantly moved on to the finals ---the first all-Egyptian final in the Malaysian Open---and reclaimed the title for the second time in three years.
A jigsaw puzzle aficionado and sudoku wizard, El Welily has more on her mind than puzzles this squash season, as she hopes to play her best in this year's U.S. Open.
How has the U.S. Open changed since you first played in it?
The U.S. Open was great even on the first time I went there, I absolutely loved it. Very well organized, the organizers take such good care of the players. I enjoy being there so much. I love the venue, the introduction, the court, all the things put around the court, the activities are just awesome and the videos played on the screen. Everything is planned to the very last detail. So to watch a perfectly planned tour on a first time grow better and bigger year after year is just something unbelievable.
What are some personal goals for this year's U.S. Open?
Last year I lost in the quarters so I'm looking forward to this year's tournament trying to give my best and see how far it'll get me.
What are your thoughts on prize money parity?
The U.S. Open is the first tournament on our calendar to offer equal prize money. I have to say that I'm personally very happy about this and I'm very thankful to all the people that made this happen. I'm sure all the girls feel the same and feel very appreciated now that this has finally happened.
Best U.S. Open memory? Or most embarrassing memory?
My most embarrassing memory was last year when I ended a 3-2 nerve wracking match against my friend Omneya Abdel Kawy with a very lucky shot on match ball. I can still hear her scream after that shot.
Best U.S. Open match that you played?
The first time I went three years ago I lost to Rachael Grinham in five games after being 2-0 up. Even though I lost, I remember coming off court not one bit sad or disappointed. I had given everything I had till the very last rally, but Rachael was just super on that day.
Who are your squash idols?
My squash idols are Amr Shabana and Rachael Grinham
Favorite shot and why?
Is there any better feeling in the world than that feeling you get after hitting that perfect nick?