Nouran and Mohamed triumph : the reports

Finals Reports, by Framboise Gommendy

Nouran was not to be denied

[7] Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-0 [4] Camille Serme (FRA)  11-3, 11-8, 11-3 (30m)

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Twenty one years old. Her second British Open final – first one when she just turned 18. And her first title. And quel panache!!!

“It like being in a washing machine,” confessed Camille. Yes, I was more thinking about a 15 round bout with Rocky Balboa, but a washing machine will do fine.

7 minites, 9m, 8m. Length of the three games. 10 unforced errors in two games for Camille, 3 for Nouran, none in the third for the Egyptian. For the winners now, 4, 5 and 10 for Nouran in each game, 1, 6 and 3 for the French woman.

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Nouran overpowered Camille, like she did to Raneem and Nour El Tayeb. The French never found a way to contain the blistering energy coming from the CIB player today. Forced to make error upon error, she lost confidence in her squash, and could only see her opponent getting stronger and more assertive – if that’s possible.

“Back to the drawing board,” concluded Camille, who is already planning her training session to match Nouran at the Power Game. Can’t wait for next season …

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Camille

“I tried my best, but she was just too good today.

“Even if the rallies are short the intensity is very high. I can only describe it as being in a washing machine. You try and take it, and take it but I just couldn’t impose my game at all and I found myself on the back foot constantly.

“I was trying to get a better length, but she was scotching me to the back wall and when I managed to create some opportunities I made the error.

“As Philippe commented, she really brings a new aspect to the women’s game. And she really showed me today what I have to work on. Which was in the pipeline anyway, but we have all summer to work on it now…”

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Nouran :

“I can’t really describe it actually. I am out of words. It means so so much to me, especially that it is the British Open. When you have had tough times, it makes it extra special so yeah, I am over the moon right now.

“When I won the Hong Kong Open, my mother was there as well. I think she might be my lucky charm, and there is also someone who is not always with me, but he is the main reason for what I have. My dad is the reason why I play squash because he loves it so much.

“I was very wary of Camille, she has been playing so well this season, and she has so much experience as well, she know how to deal with every situation.

“I feel very comfortable on this court, I want to take it home! When I lost the last two years, it was on normal courts so can I please play just on the glass here so I can do this again!

“I feel very comfortable here. The environment, the city itself, it feels a bit like home. It is very cosy here and it really helps me to feel good on court. To have the accuracy you have to be both relaxed and focused. I feel this attitude and environment really helped me.

“This morning after my hit, I started crying. I never did that before. Even in Hong Kong I didn’t do that. I think I was very young so maybe I couldn’t really comprehend how much it meant to me to be in the final of a major event. My mum kept telling me to enjoy the occasion and to relax. She told me to take the chance and if I played my best then I would take the win!

“I want to thank my mum who has been there this week, every day, but also my Dad who is the one that made me start squash. I was doing gymnastic and swimming before but I hated it. I’m so glad I chose squash!!!

I want to thank my fitness trainer Hossam who has been working with me for 5, 6 years now, and of course, Omar Abdel Aziz, who has been coaching me since I was 15. He’s been there for the good times and the bad times. Karim Darwish, who is helping me handle the pressure and at last but not least, Mr Hussein Abaza and CIB for the constant support they are giving us in Egypt. They make a huge difference to us players, and for Egyptian Squash in general.”

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Huge effort from an exhausted Ali but Mohamed imperial

[2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-1 [1] Ali Farag (EGY)  11-9, 5-11, 11-5, 11-9 (66m)

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Mohamed knew exactly how Ali felt today, as he himself had had a few tough journeys to the finals they played this season. And he gave the CIB player all the respect due: the Rowe player knew that Ali was not going to fold, and that he would have to go and get the title out of Ali’s racquet.

Mohamed was very very very focused today. Ali, trying to do a Nick Matthew “I’m fine and I’m doing training exercises before the matches starts,” was not fooling anybody. Even a “he woke up physically fine,” from Nour managed to convince me that the world number 1 was hunky dory today…

Still, the effort he produced up to 3/3 in the third is remarkable, and Ali can lift his head high… He held his rank today, and I’m sure made Mohamed doubt in the second, and at the business end of the fourth.

First game, mid pace, very constructed rallies from both players, 3/0 Mohamed but quickly 3/3, 4/4, 5/5. Mohamed takes the lead with excellent length, 7/5, 9/6. Two enormous rally 9/7, 9/8 and two pressure errors from Mohamed, it’s 9/9. It’s still possible for Ali to make a mark on the match, but it’s Mohamed, 11/9 in 18m.

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5 errors, 7 winners for Mohamed, 4 winners Ali and 4 errors.

“Ali could have done with that first game,” comments Steve from the Allam family. “I had the same analysis,” I reply. Yes, we all feel that Ali needed that game, if only from a mental point of view.

But what a clever tactical game in the second, Ali methodically sent Mohamed to the four corners, showing why he is able to dispose of the best players in the world. 4/1, 8/3, 11/5 in 9m.

9m will be the length of the next game too, about the same domination but from Mohamed this time, from 3/3, Ali really had nothing in the tank, 11/5.

Would you believe that the fourth is 22m long… Ali had his second wind and was able to stay with Mohamed more or less point for point up to 6/7. But tired errors crept in, 10/6 match ball.

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Out of the blue, Mohamed changes his tactic, and instead of that gruelling slow/mid pace he’s been using the whole match, he goes for fast and furious. Ali only too happy to use Mo’s power. He saves one match ball at the back, then a second one with a stroke, and another one with a superb backhand volley drop shot.

The crowd wants a fifth, on my dead body says Mohamed. A huge push from the Alexandria Pharaoh, and on a video decision, gets his third British Open title on a stroke.

Lovely chat between the players, big smile, and showing why we are such a special sport. Sportsmanship at his best.

Love my players.

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Ali
“I am very proud of what I have achieved this week and the way I managed to push and dig in when I was very tired in the second game, against Mohamed who was playing so well and with so much experience of those situations.

“I am entirely happy with the way this season turned out to be. And I really want to thank a few people, Hossam Shadad, my fitness coach, who is helping us all year round, turning up at 7am if we need to, his support is second to none. This week also I need to thank Derek Ryan who helped me when I was very tired to keep my body in order and also my mental coach, Tim Hardness.

“And thanks to Dr Allam, and all those in charge of running this amazing tournament…”

Mohamed

“Our last match last season in Dubai, he told me that what I did last season was inspirational. This time is it my turn to say that what he has done this season was inspirational. And I added that I wanted him to keep improving every single day because that’s what he was doing to me, making me improve.

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“You know, at the TOC and Grasshopper, I was the one with the tough draw. This one, he was the one with the tough draw. And like I fought for my life every single shot in those two tournaments, he fought today for every shot which show the character of the man. I have such respect for Ali. What he achieved this season is unbelievable.

“I couldn’t play at the pace I used to play! I’m not the young player looking to beat the top guys anymore, when I used to hit hard and run. I’m the old generation now, and I have to be mechanical and economical with my movement now.

“The only time I allowed myself to play very fast and hit hard was when I got to 10/6 match ball, because I got too excited!! And you saw how he picked me! It really didn’t work…

“It was very awkward for me to be the only one having won the trophy when I was arriving at an event, as the old generation has retired, the Nick, Ramy and Greg G – well, Greg, not sure but not here at the moment – and it was putting too much pressure on me.

“The same way I had a rivalry with Ramy, I am really happy to have set a new rivalry with Ali. And now, when we arrive at an event, there will be two players having won the tournament, not just me.

“That said, I am 100% sure that Ali will put his name to the British Open trophy, because he is made with what makes a legend, and he deserves to put his name on there.

“Some people could say this was a bad season for me, but I actually won my 3rd US Open, my 4th HK and my 3rd British Open. And still that was not enough to keep my number one spot. That shows how amazing what Ali has achieved this year.

“I need to thank my sponsors, Tecnifibre, Rowe and Red Bull, my parents, my brother. I can never repay what my parents have done for me over the years, but I hope this result is a little way of thanking them for the constant support.  Thanks also to Hadrian Stiff for being with me all week, who has been working with me for about 10 years now, and I hope for many more years to come.

“And of course, a huge thank you to Dr Allam and his family, they have been supporting us for 8 years now, they keep welcoming us here and we hope that we can come back again and again.”

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