SF:  Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-1  Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 9-11, 11-7, 13-11, 11-4 (75m)
Not sure those two are going to spend Christmas break together…
Kidding but it didn’t seem there were much love lost between them. It’s understandable I guess. Nouran not a long time ago was as hungry to knock the top girls as Hania is, she knows how she’s got to make sure to keep her inline, while Hania is full of the confidence that comes with beating all the top players one after the other.
But I feel that today, the freshness of the legs played a role as Hania had spend nearly one hour more on court. You could argue that Nouran bless her has been struggling not only with an ankle injury, but also the left quad seemed to trouble her during the match – she had to ask for a three minute injury time at the end of the crucial third. We can assume she is not as prepared that she would have liked coming into this event….
What a battle. Again. Completely different from the style of match she played against Camille. If with Camille, it was a lot of crispy drop shots and lobs, with Nouran, it was heavy bullets, crosscourt kills and straight kills, a few defence lobs as well. It’s only in the 4th, when she felt her opponent was tiring, both mentally and physically, that Nouran found her best feathery drop shots.
Hania ‘stole’ the opener from her opponent – after the start of the match that was delayed first with court cleaning, then ball change – as Nouran was up from 4/1, 4/4, 9/6. In a straight 5 points run, Hania got the first game in 22m, 11/9.
A wobbly start for the Gazelle in the second, 4 errors in 6 points, giving a big boost of confidence to the Terminator, 9/3 up. Hat off to Hania who clawed back to 7/9 but a bit too late, and it’s 11/7 for Nouran, 11m.
A mammoth third, crucial, with Hania giving away 4 points of unforced errors, plus two strokes, against only 2 errors from Nouran. At 8/5, Nouran asked for an injury time, as I mentioned. But it didn’t prevent her from closing down the 20m game, 9/9, tin 10/9 first game ball to Nouran, Hania gets her own, 11/10, but Nouran’s attacks are just so sharp, it’s 13/11 at her 2nd attempt.
Hania was playing catch up in the 4th, 1/3, 3/6, but still in contention. But from that point on, it’s all Nouran, changing her game from hard hitting to feathery, with Hania not having the legs to go and pick them up anymore…
Gutsy performance from the world number one. Makes me think of her match in Blackball, she played in excruciating pain, she had to forfeit the next round but she still won that match, from memory, Hollie Naughton… Hania will be disappointed but she had a great run last week, and who knows, maybe next event, she won’t play Camille in the second round…
“I’m the last one to like matches that stop and start, I like to have a rhythm in the match.
“This week has been a little bit different, I’ve been having a different injury every day. Hamdullah, it’s not a severe one, but it doesn’t really help the mind. I’m really proud of myself with how I dealt with it.
“It’s down to the hard work that my team have done with me. The game of squash is not only about tactics and fitness, sometimes you have to deal with situations mentally and it’s all about the experience and the hard work that you put into training. I’m just very proud and I hope my team is proud as well.
“Hania is the player to beat right now. She’s very good in all aspects and I have so much respect for her. I knew it was going to be hard and tough out there, we both love to play a fast-paced game.
“With the little niggle in my leg, I had to adapt and change and it just went my way this time, but we will have great battles in the future, I’m 100 per cent sure.”