Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-1  Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 15-13, 9-11, 17-15, 11-6 (107m)
The fifth-longest PSA women’s match ever to start the evening.
I set you the scene: on my left, the Gohar clan, and on my left, the Hammamy clan. Not much love-lost on the court, but none much love-lost off-court either. Between the “Elhamdoulillah” coming from my right every time Hania was making an error (in the first game), then an Arabic comment from my left – as Nouran hit hard Hania with the ball at 10/10 in the 3rd resulting in a stroke for Nouran – that made Nouran’s brother jump out of his seat ready to act but stopped by his parents, it was a nice and relaxed atmosphere. Not.
As Hania publicly demanded that PSA look at Nouran’s movement after their match in the Worlds, the atmosphere was electric on court as well. Hania was volatile every time she talked to the ref – frustrated about the movement and what she feels as not being able to get to the ball at any time – while Nouran was stunned by the sudden hard line taken by the officials about her movement and making her feelings clearly known to the ref: “you want me to give the match on, I don’t understand” as she exited the court at the end of the 2nd game.
Roy Gingell bless him did an excellent job. Only little wobble, at the end of the 3rdn 15/14 to Nouran. But then again, by then, he might have had given about 6,454 decisions and handled 2 wild tigers on court:
A no let against Hania overturned to stroke, with Nouran then demanding for the same point a player review on a not-up, only to be reminded by Hania that she didn’t have any more reviews. Funny then at the start of the following game, Hania was conduct stroked for opening her mouth! Thank the Lord she opened it in the third…
Globally, I would say that the fact that Nouran felt attacked by the ref made fuelled her rage to win. Today, Hania played sublime squash, with a perfect game plan, absorbing Nouran’s power and counterdropping/counterattacking every single shot, volleying as much as possible.
The conditions being extremely hot, 32° outside the court, imagine inside, the ball was extremely bouncy, and Nouran was flying the whole match from way back to way front, picking up everything Hania was throwing at her. And that was a heck of a lot. Gina Kennedy mentioned the incredible Nouran’s athleticism. We had the proof tonight, and in my eyes that’s the key tonight.
As for the detail of the happenings.
First game is crucial, as Hania was leading “comfortably” in the opener, 9/6, 10/7 game, but despite 5 game ball, the Gazelle can’t close 30m game and it’s Nouran 15/13 on her second attempt. 10 winners for Nouran, 9 for Hania.
Excellent response from Hania in the second, even if Nouran leads 3/1 at the start, she zooms to 9/4 and levels 11/9 with a video review no let that prompted the “do you want to give the match away?” from the Terminator…
The third. A whole match on its own. 34m. Like in the first, Hania seems to be cruising, 4/1, 6/3, 8/5, only to be caught up, 8/8, 9/9. And she manages to set up a game ball at 10/9.
It will take 20m for the girls to close that game from that point. Reviews from both players, drastic overturned, video decision, a call per rally…. Tough doesn’t start to describe it. Again 5 game balls for the Gazelle. But again, it’s the Terminator on her 2nd attempt, 17/15.
The fourth is all about Nouran being completely in control of the T, as I mentioned, Hania being penalised for talking from 4/5 to 4/6. The game is “only” 17m, and although Hania pushed as much as she could, Nouran was in control, 9/4, 10/5. An error saves for the first match ball, but it’s Nouran to the final, 11/6.
To be able to close it out in four in 107 minutes, it’s good but I’d like to close it out sooner. It was tough physically but mentally as well.
I know the referees sweat more actually, we just want to win so much. Roy did a good job and there’s a lot of action happening on court and to back up from the World Championships and playing the way I did is something I’m super proud of.
The first game was crucial. I saw it was like 30 minutes and that is long for a first game but I knew it was crucial and I was thinking that even if I lost it I wanted it to be tough. I just wanted to send a message that I was not going to go away and I’m happy I could close it out.
I’ll do a lot of recovery now, thankfully my physio Mohamed Hussein is here and I think he’s in for a lot of work.
🗣 "I'm just happy I won it in four games, not five!"
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) June 1, 2023