R3: Edgy Nele takes revenge on Rowan

[9/16] Nele Gilis (Bel) 3-1 [7] Rowan Elaraby (Egy)  9-11, 14-12, 11-4, 11-6 (58m)

What a transformation for Nele. How fitting it is that both her and her fiancé Paul Coll seem to mirror each other: first, working on their incredible fitness, then adding the skill layer. “I’ve been working on my short game for three years, but it’s all about implementing in the matches”.

As Ali Farag was sitting next to me – he came to watch and support Wadi Degla team player Rowan – aka Roro – Nele’s game is now officially complete. Perfect length, width, and now, superb and gutsy short shots.

Rowan was in and out today. Down 4/0 in each three first games, she clawed back, stringing a good run of points in both first and second.

5/5, 6/6, 7/7 in the first. Nele takes the lead, looking good, 9/7, but again, a run of 5 points for the Egyptian, and it’s 11/9 in 16 long minutes, Rowan having to win the point about 6 to 7 times…

The second, as I mention is again dominated by Nele to start with, the Egyptian looking extremely tired, only to see Rowan bursting back on, from 4/1 7/2 down to 7/7, 8/8. Nele will have two game balls at 10/8, but sublime squash coming repetitively from the Egyptian racquet, and Rowan gets her own chance to close the game, 11/10. A couple of errors from a now tired Rowan, and the Belgium eventually clinches the 15m crucial second 14/12.

The Egyptian takes a rest in the third, 11/4 for Nele in 9m, and it works for Rowan. In the fourth, she is finally leading at the start of the game, 3-1. Unfortunately, no more energy left in the tank, 7 points for Nele, in control and controlling the rallies, 8/3.

A huge COME ON from Roro at that point, after reading her opponent’s shot to close the rally, 4/8. A few good rallies will follow, the crowd hoping their girl will push for a decider, but it wasn’t to be, 11/6 in 10m for Nele.

Nele : I have definitely worked on my short game for the past three years, I know I can do it in training but it’s like transferring that into matches which is a very slow process. But I feel it’s finally coming together in matches as well.

Actually, I’m not super happy with my short game today because Rowan is such a skilful player, she can shoot from anywhere, so I was so edgy. Especially when I started the games very well, then she kind of give me the impression she’d given up, and then she would come back. That made me so edgy.

I’m very very happy I got through that match. It was very tough, and it was my first time to beat her. She chopped me at the US Open, I had a very bad day at the Office, and she was very good, so, I wanted to get revenge today.

And I actually think those backcourt were actually perfect.

I think it’s going to be my first time playing on the glass. Oh, hold on, no, I played Nour El Sherbini last year, I was a bit injured and I got chopped in like 15m, so I blanked it out. Yes, it’s my first time on the glass!!!