Amanda Sobhy (USA)  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 9-11, 13-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-8 (62m)
Since Black Ball 2020, Nour hadn’t lost a match against anybody else than Hania or Nouran. And that loss was against Amanda, in the quarters… (Merci SquashNews)
In my last report, I did say “Amanda will be hard to beat”. I was right. For once…
To be fair, I hadn’t seen Nour playing that strangely for years. She was making errors upon errors, her timing was completely off, arriving too late on the ball, hitting the shot at the wrong time, and not able to read Amanda’s game as well as she normally does.
Which parts of those elements are coming from an off day for Nour and from a splendid performance from the American? I would say 30/70 probably. Nour was not at her best to start with, but Amanda never really let go of the throat…
When was the last time Nour made 7 errors in a first game? She still clinched the first game, coming back from 7/9 down all the way to game, 11/9. 10m game. Short rallies.
Amanda was leading the whole of the second game, Nour playing catch up. Amanda seemed to put the ball exactly where Nour didn’t want it, or didn’t expect it. The Egyptian was like a lost soul out there. She was looking at her camp (I was right in it). Malesh, Malesh, Quies, Quies. It’s ok, it’s fine they kept repeating. But it wasn’t now, was it.
6/4, 8/5 for Amanda, 8/8., 9/9. Against the odds, Nour gets first blood, 10/9, 11/10, but it’s the American, in control of the rallies, levelling one game all, 13/11 in 14m. 7 winners each.
Nour doesn’t give up. She is fighting. Like the great champ she is, she keeps winning rallies whereas she is not playing her best squash. It’s neck-to-neck the whole match, ending with a 10/8, 9/10, 10/10, and finally 12/10 in 11m. Very high quality again, 8 winners each.
It’s pretty close up to the middle of the game, 4/5, but Amanda is clinical, and emotional, and loud. She needs to be to cover the support from the crowd to their champion. 9/4, 11/6 in 8m. That’s very fast. 7 winners for Amanda, only 4 for Nour.
The momentum keeps serving Amanda, 4/1, 4/4, 7/4, 9/5. The crowd keeps believing Nour can come back. But it’s 10/6, match ball. The Princess is still fighting with what she has today, and will save two match balls before bowing to Amanda, yet again, in the quarters in BB… 11/8 in 11m.
“I’m at a loss right now. I felt like I had a good chance, she beat me at the ToC but I had patches where I played really well. It was more about staying positive and being able to play that way from start to finish. I did that tonight, which I’m proud of.
“Last time I beat her was here in December 2020 and I won it on a stroke. I know you want a good ending, but I’ll take what I can get and I’m really happy to be able to redeem myself and play the squash that I know that I’m capable of.
“The top three are the top three for a reason. I haven’t played Hania in a while and it’s great that I get an opportunity tomorrow. I will recover and get together a solid game plan with my team and coach Wael El Hindi.
“I’m going to be ready for tomorrow, I know she’s a fierce competitor, but so am I.”