WF : Gohar dethrones Sherbini in thriller

Nouran Gohar saves three match balls in the decider to become the new women’s champion

[2] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-2 [1] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 11-7, 11-4, 5-11, 7-11, 12-10 (64m)

We saw two great matches tonight, but the suspense was at the girls Party!

If you take out the pools of the CIB World Series, Nouran hadn’t beaten Nour in a best of 5 since April 2019 in the El Gouna quarters, 12/10 in the 5th, 74m. Piece of cake.

This season to be honest, Nour looked unbeatable. Except… When she spoke to me after her first round here, she admitted openly she was really tired. The matches, the travelling, the lack of quality training time. And I was to be honest surprised how well she played all week as I heard then in her voices how exhausted she was, both mentally and physical.

And Nouran felt the little wobble at the start. Just a little fraction delay to get on the ball. That was enough for the Terminator to rush into the breach in the armour. It’s not like Nour went tin mad or made any tactical errors but Nouran was hitting extremely hard, for two games, 11 and 10m, 9/5 11/7 then 9/2 11/4. Incredible result for Nouran that I think surprised her a bit!

The third, she took a little breathing time, and Nour quickly came back to 1/2, in 6m. Boooomm.

The fourth is interesting. Nour was up 4/1, finding her favourite position high up in the court, and making the court very big for Nouran. A big push for the Terminator, 4/4, 6/6, but 4 unforced errors in 7 points, and Nour is back level in 14m, 11/7.

Strange. It was like Nouran completely stopped doing what got her to 2/0. She stopped her firing in the back corners that put so much pressure on Nour, she was not finding her shots at the front, and to be honest, it was like her whole choice of shots went south!

The last one, I’m not sure how both camps survived without at least a heart attack. Nour up 3/1, thanks to 2 errors Nouran. Then the Terminator goes zooooom 4 points, 5/3. Nour is still attacking and seems to be going strong, 5/5. 7/5 Nour. 7/7. A few stunning rallies, exquisite winners and that’s it, match balls 10/7. Boiiinnnnng.

A volley drop shot, a backhand redrop , and a tin, gone the three match balls. The crowd is going wild, the camps are near apoplexy. 10/10. And incredibly, Nouran just keep the momentum going within second, stroke and a backhand crosscourt that bounces in the nick. 16m last game.

Nouran is the CIB Egyptian Open Champion. And then I remember to breathe.

Nouran : Is it over? I felt like I was spending the whole night on the court! I mean, I am enjoying these matches now. At the beginning, it was tough to lose but now I am enjoying it.

I feel like I am growing every match and Nour did everything in this game. I just have to catch up with what she is doing. Having the rivalry with her right now is something big which I am really proud of.

Playing the finals of all the big events is something I am really proud of and to win it today is something extra special for sure. I can’t actually believe it is the first time I have beaten her in a final, in front of the Pyramids, in front of my friends and family, in front of the home crowd. Nothing can beat this, actually.

I am very proud of it. Nour was always the youngster, playing with the older generations. We never really played as juniors, the first time we played was on the PSA and she was always in the top five with Raneem and Omneya. To be her rival right now is something that I am really proud of and I can’t wait for more matches together!

Nour : I was just very tired today and it’s all credit to her. She is so good, she is very fit, and you cannot play her when you are not 100% yani. You have to be playing your best squash to be able to beat her.

I wasn’t playing my best squash, but I tried my best. I changed my plan, tried to stick in there till the end, but it wasn’t mine this time.

It was the first time they came to see  me play, I’m sorry it didn’t turn up the way I wanted for them, la Banque du Caire. They are very supportive and I am very very lucky to be part of their team. It’s really different to be the only one sponsored by them, it’s a bit of a change, not all the time CIB, it’s another bank and it’s a big one. I’m sure they are going to try and put up a big platinum event one day!

Of course Zed with Mr Naguib Sawiris, Haitham Abdelazim Ora CEO, it’s such a pleasure to be part of their team and family. Tecnifibre, Alexandria Sporting Club, my parents, my brother Omar, and my sister in law, my team, they came today to watch me play, they support me and they mean everything to me…

Omar : I’m proud of Nouran’s attitude today. A couple of years back, she couldn’t have handled this. Now, she is handling the pressure, in front of the Pyramids, in front of all those people, this crowd, in one of the biggest tournaments in the world. Especially for Egyptians, it’s heavy on everyone’s head.

She planned the match very carefully, she didn’t give up when she was 3 match balls down. She has learnt a lot of lessons today, it’s not just the title.

I’m proud of how she is improving mentally, the fact she now can smile with the audience, she is going somewhere, to bigger places…