SF: Nele on Cloud Gouna to oust Nour in 3

Nele Gilis (Bel) 3-0 [2] Nour El Sherbini (Egy)  11-8, 11-9, 11-5 (45m)

There are moments in a writer’s life where you just are speechless. Keyboardless I guess more like.

I was right behind Paul and let me tell you, how the chair survived the treatment the Kiwi gave it is a complete mystery. He was bending it, stretching it, poor thing….

Joke apart, it was a master class from the Belgian, first ever Belgian girl to reach a Platinium final I’m told.

They will tell you the second game was crucial. Yes it was. But not as much as the first one in my opinion. Nour needed that first game to relax and impose her game. Nothing between the players, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6. But from 7/8 down, Nele seemed to find all the winners she had been working on for years. Nick, nick, and nick again. Nour was doing what she could to contain the Belgium but she was just outplayed at the end of that opener, 11/8 in 13m.

On a boiling hot court, it’s 32° outside, imagine inside the aquarium with the lights on, Nour’s incredible paced shots were just coming off, like Diego in the previous game. Meanwhile, because Nele’s accuracy at the back of the court and width was so amazing, her attacking shots didn’t need to be too close to the tin, lowering the percentage of her game.

But a superb response from Nour in the second, from 2/2, up 5/2, 8/5. But again, like in the previous game, Nele out of nowhere just finds the perfect balance to force error after error from Nour. From 4/8 to 10/8 in one hand, courtesy of 3 errors from the Alexandrian.

An error from the Belgium saves that one, 9/10. The crowd is holding its breath. But another error from the Egyptian, and Nele walks out 11/9 in 15m game, the longest of the match.

The third is a no show from Nour, who although she stayed and fought 12m on there, made four errors in a row at the start of the game, and two more in the middle, allowing Nele a huge game, 9/3.

A lovely clever push from the World Champion, playing her best squash of the match, but it’s too little too late, and it’s 11/5 for Nele, who breaks down in tears. Not sure Paul’s eyes were very dry either…

Nele : I think it was a bit of a mix. I was very relaxed and had nothing to lose and Nour not being at her best, but you still have to take those opportunities when they arise. I’ve been visualising for the last 24 hours and not once did I think it would be 3-0. It’s a bit surreal and I’m beyond happy.

I just had to force myself to volley and stay in front of her and be confident on my shots that I’ve been practising for years and just do it because if I don’t, I’m never going to win, so I might as well have a crack and see how goes and thankfully I did that.

I’m just going to stretch, relax, get some food in. I’ll try and just enjoy today and then from tomorrow morning I’ll be switched on and I’ll be ready for tomorrow night.