Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-2  Amanda Sobhy (USA) 8-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-8, 12-10 (64m)
What a fight. What amazing athletes on there. Both mentally very implicated in the match. With it looked like Amanda fully in control, very up on the T, and volleying as ever sublimely. But on those traditional court, you can retrieve just a bit more than on a glass, and those tenth of seconds you save as the ball is just a bit slower, well, Nele utilised them to her advantage fully.
Maybe a bit of relaxation for Amanda in view of the finishing post? Or maybe Nele saying to herself, to the world: no, not today. “if Amanda would have won today, it would have been with me being carried out of the court. I wanted it that bad” commented the Belgium number one.
Amanda had two match balls in that 5th, 10/8, but couldn’t close it – things she is normally so good at, and pretty fast – and it’s the underdog who advances next round, 12/10.
I’ve been working with a mental coach. We talked yesterday and this morning and we decided that enough was enough. That it had to be it. It had to be today. Because I was so close so many times.
So finally. I don’t feel relieved, no. It’s more a “finally”. Like if I was rewarded for all that hard work for years.
I made sure that I was playing at a fast pace, as I know that if I gave her time on the ball, if I played slow or mid pace, she would destroy me. So I volleyed as much as I could and twisted and turned her.
When I was down match balls, I said to myself, shot by shot, make every shot count, think about the next shot, give it everything on every shot, and if she wants to beat me, she’ll have to play a roller – not that she couldn’t!!!
A year ago, I would have been nervous for a match like this. But during the Lockdown, I thought a lot about my father who passed away about 10 years ago, but who is still a huge part of my life. And he would have wanted me to enjoy my life. It was like a mirror was placed in front of my face and asked me “so, why are you stressed? You are living your dream. Start enjoying it”.
I just did…