R3: Rowan 3-2 Zeina

[8] Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 3-2 Zeina Mickawy (EGY)  11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-7 (50m)

What a start of the day on the traditional court. Rowan was favourite on paper, playing a very good friend, who knows her game inside out, and who was reading her game regularly, adding pressure to Rowan’s shoulders, who didn’t need that bless her.

To be honest, I don’t think I ever saw Zeina playing that well ever. Yes, she had a little drop of energy at the end of games, as she often does, starting to go for too much and forcing it. But the way she dominated the second game, 5/1, 6/3, and the fourth, 4/0, 8/3, was superb of mixing shots and adding the height to her weapons.

We had some great rallies, but never too long, the games length are 7m, 11m, 8m, 10m and 7m. The last game is where Zeina reverted to her old habits, going for far too much, making 6 unforced errors, but most of them from the middle of the game.

Her association with Ahmed Shohayeb is really working for her, and I feel that on the other side, since Rowan is working with Engy Kheirallah is giving the confidence in her game/herself she needs. Interesting to see what the coming months will bring to both.

The win marks a third Platinum quarter-final of the season for the Egyptian, after getting to the last eight at the 2023 Hong Kong Squash Open before reaching the semi-finals of the 2024 Tournament of Champions.

Rowan : Of course, I am happy with the win but not about the way I did it.

Zeina is an amazing player, we’ve been playing since… forever, and obviously, she knows my game very well. She could read my shots and anticipated them before I even played them.

But I feel that I can’t find my personality on court. I am trying to rhyme my physical game with my skills. Nowadays, squash has become all physical, playing length game with volley straight drops. And that’s not how I want to play.

And maybe that’s why I’m lost? Because now, the physical side of things is more important than skills. And I can’t express my game the way I want it. I thought last match I had managed to do what I wanted, even if not perfectly, but then again today, apart from the first game where I think I expressed my game pretty well, I became more and more nervous because she was reading my game so well.

If anything, I’m proud of my character in the last two events and the improvement I’ve made on my mental side. That’s something I’ve been working on. If I’m having a bad day, or not playing well, everything goes wrong in my head. Now, it doesn’t matter how I play, it’s the win that matters. And that’s the positive I take from those two events, and I’m very proud of that.