New Zealand's World No.5 Joelle King and Wales' World No.9 Tesni Evans will go head-to-head in tonight's Manchester Open final, held at the National Squash Centre.
The Manchester Open – a women’s only tournament – is supported by Manchester City Council and follows the successful staging of the award-winning AJ Bell PSA World Championships in the city in December 2017, where equal prize money was on offer across both the men’s and women’s events for the first time in the tournament’s history.
King overcame United States' No.1 Amanda Sobhy in the semi-finals last night, while Evans upset the seedings to come from 2-0 down against Egypt's World No.3 Nour El Tayeb to reach the biggest PSA final of her career and the Welshwoman admitted she felt as though she was playing the best squash of her career.
“It’s been a pretty good week so far,” said 26-year-old Evans. “I’ve probably played some of the best squash of my career this week.
“I’m feeling really good, I’ve had some pretty tough matches the last couple of rounds but overall, making the final, I’m really happy with how I’ve played.”
King has also enjoyed a formidable week and seems to be back to her best after winning her biggest title at the Hong Kong Open in November this season.
“I think it’s been an interesting week for me,” said 30-year-old King.
“After a few tournaments where I kind of feel like I didn’t do myself justice, I have tried the last couple of tournaments to just try and stay fresh and really just give it everything while I’m there and then try and move onto the next tournament.
“I’ve been really pleased with my mental performances, even when I’ve had lapses throughout the match that I was able to finish the business end off pretty well.”
The two players are no strangers heading into tonight’s final, with the two being close friends on tour and even sharing a room together at this week’s tournament.
“We are really close,” said Evans on her friendship with King.
“Even though I’m a little lower in age, she is someone I have looked up to with the way she plays and stuff and so for me to share a final with her is really special.
“Hopefully we will have a good match and she won’t make me do her washing again because I’ve done it once and that’s it!”
King added: “We know exactly how each other work. I did try and kick her out of the room last night! We settled on sharing and we both go out there to try and play our best squash.
“Obviously we both want to win and do well, but I think it’s nice that we can come off court and be happy for the other whenever they do well, so it will be a good battle.”
The two players have a close head-to-head record with King narrowly ahead with three wins, to Evans’ two. However, the Welshwoman insisted that it will be a tough battle tonight in Manchester.
“There is probably a little less pressure on myself with me being the lower ranked player,” said Evans. “But Joelle knows that we have had some good battles and I know she is going to be very up for it and will probably put some of that pressure back on me.
“We’ve both had some good wins against each other and we are probably feeling pretty similar about it and we will see who can handle it better tonight.”
Meanwhile, King admitted that with the season nearing its conclusion, she wants to end it on a high.
“It’s a funny thing, you go all week and play each round and then the final feels like a whole other tournament really.
“I’m really excited for tonight and it would mean the world if I could win tonight.”
The Manchester Open final take place today at the National Squash Centre at 19:00 local time (UTC+1) and the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV, Eurosport Player and multiple broadcasters around the world.