QF: 7 match balls needed for Nour to oust Tinne…

[2] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-0 Tinne Gilis (Bel)  11-4, 11-7, 11-9 (39m)

I’m not going to say it again. How amazed I am every time I see Tinne play. How her game is evolving and improving. And I have the feeling that Greg Gaultier, coaching both of them, was probably thinking that he was doing a good job with both of them.

It’s such a pleasure to watch those two fair warriors on court. It’s clever squash, fast, no contact, no struggling with movement. Just pure and stunning squash. Ridiculous at times. So, so so clever.

A superb start for Nour, 6-0. Impressive. Accurate. Fast. That’s what it took to Tinne to adapt to the glasscourt conditions – she played her last match on the side court. And if Nour took the game comfortably, I could see the premises of what the Belgium was going to be able to produce with her sublime backhand volley drop shots.

The second is pure magic. Both girls attacking each their turns, finding their target around the four corners. A joy to watch. A huge rally at 6/6, that I feel took a lot of adrenalin from both, won by Tinne, but a return of serve winner for Nour, and she never looked back in that game, 11/7, 12m game.

To be fair, Tinne looked a bit tired at the start of the third, but then again so did Nour. Her brother Omar just had a baby boy, Ezz, who was in a critical state at some point and in hospital, so it was worrying times and she admits herself her brain was a bit all over the place.

At 3/3, Tinne twisted her ankle, and it took her mind off the game for a few seconds. That was enough for the Egyptian to rush to 10/3! And as often, Tinne, having nothing to worry about anymore, found some exquisite combinations, pushing a more and more tired Nour to the four corners.

7 match balls later, Tinne was now 9/10, looking fresh, Nour, not that much, talking time to receive the serve. But with a sublime return of serve that died in the right back corner, match over in 3s. Typical Nour’s style.

Tinne : To be fair, in Egypt, I was struggling on the outdoor courts so much it’s so humid, Europeans are not used to it at all. But today to be fair, I do like this glasscourt, I’m not going to go as far as to say I was comfortable, but I felt alright.

I felt fine, I could push myself physically where I normally struggle physically on the outdoor court, but once I get nervous or anxious, that’s where I find it difficult to breathe, and breathing hard in those conditions, it’s very hard to relax…

So half way to the third, that’s exactly what happened when I twisted my ankle, and found myself 10/3 down on or something, and I basically had lost the match.

So I told myself I’m just going to go for it, and that’s what’s annoying, that’s when I play my best squash!  A bit frustrating I didn’t do that from the beginning.

Obviously Greg didn’t do my game plan, it’s Johan, one of the coaches in the Prague Academy where I train now. I’m so excited to work and train with Greg, though!

But Nour, she is so impressive, she is world number one, I’m constantly under pressure, it’s so hard to stay consistent against her. She is so good, she is still a few steps away from me, I gave 100%, so I’m happy to end the season like this.

Nour : Maybe I lost a bit of concentration and wasn’t focusing on what I was supposed to do. She was just focusing on what she needed to do and was fighting until the last point. I’m a bit frustrated with what happened in the last game, but thankfully it didn’t go any further than this and I won it in the end. I don’t know what would have happened if I’d lost it.

You never stop learning, you keep learning and I’m definitely going to learn from this one. I’m going to review it with my coaches and talk about what was happening. I’m definitely going to learn from it!”

Yes, Greg was sitting and not able to coach either of us. I’m lucky I have my coaches here, they’ve been my lifelong coaches and they know me more than anyone.

All my coaches are working towards the same goal in the end and just having one of them in my corner gives me huge support.”

“My brother’s new baby, It’s amazing!. it’s big news for our families. My brother was my role model, my second father, I always looked up to him so I’m really happy for him. It’s a new experience for us and I hope to celebrate with the baby when we are back.”