2020 Quarters REPORTS

QF: Nour El Tayeb didn’t expect to win…

[5] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-2 [1] Raneem El Welily (EGY)  11-9, 9-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-9 (72m)

You have matches where the score doesn’t tell you the whole story. This one actually does. 11-9, 9-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-9, with the first four game length being 14m each, I kid you not. The last game, “only” 10m.

“I really didn’t expect to win, and I wouldn’t have even dreamed of taking a game out of Raneem last week” stated a stunned by her own performance CatWoman Nour El Tayeb. “Every rally could have been won by either of them” confessed Nour’s dad. Absolutely true.

Fact: Raneem and Nour El Sherbini are pretty much done. Between the matches they have both been playing recently, and the jetlag, they could do with a few weeks of holidays/training! On the other hand, Nour El Tayeb is not only fresh as a rose, but also very very hungry. But also, lacking of match fitness. As St Exupery would say “nothing’s perfect”….

Started well for Nour though, with Raneem playing her three errors in four points – and that was it for the rest of the game – at the start, going down 5/0. Nour is flowing on the court, Raneem not that comfortable, and it’s Nour 7/2, 9/5. Out of the blue, Raneem seems to let the arm go, with a much better backhand length and as a logical result, some stuning winners. Nour cannot concretise her first game ball, and at 9/10, one of the most ridiculous rallies ever played on the women’s tour, unfortunately for Raneem ending with a stroke against her, 11/9.

Raneem starts boldly the second with two errors, going down 4/0, and 5/1 again, but a nice COME ONE there and a nice clawing back, 5/5, 6/6, takes shortly a lead 8/6, 8/8, 9/9 of course. And despite a high number of errors (3 in the first, 4 in the second), Raneem closes it 11/9 to level 1/1.

Yes, you guess, of course she took a bad start in the 3rd too, 6/2. But again, she strings the points back, and leads now 8/6. Not for long, 8/8. A couple of incredible rallies at that point, 10/8 Raneem. Nour is truly pushed in the four corners and it’s the world number 1 looking very good, 11/9.

The fourth is the turning point. Raneem looks a bit tired, yes, down again she is, 0/3. But takes the leads 5/3, 7/4, 8.5, 9/7. To be honest, she is looking the winner at that point, and Nour a bit out of match fitness. But it’s Nour that will come on top on her second attempt, 12/10, diving all over the place, with her shoulder surgeon in the crowd that made her promise she would never dive again tearing his hair out!!!

Incredibly, Raneem actually starts well, 3/0! But 3/3, 4/4. From that point on, Raneem’s clinical backhand length that allowed her to push Nour all over the court, is not as accurate than in the previous games. Running on fumes, she still pushes on, and from 4/8 down, will level once again 8/8, 9/9. But a tin and a stroke, and it’s Nour in the semis against Nour El Sherbini.



Nour El Tayeb

Whoa. Whoa. I sure didn’t expect that.

We’ve played so many times, but she is leading the head-to-head 14-8. She is the World No.1 and is one of my role models growing up.  There was very little pressure on me and I can’t believe I won. Every game and every point I was happy to be there because I am in a major quarter final for the first time in so long.

I think that if you look at the draw, the pressure was really on Raneem, she also must have felt I’m feeling good, that I am playing well, and that I am coming back to my best squash. And that’s why she was down every game, and then, she would switch on the Raneem El Welily on again, and come back. But it’s always like that between us, it’s always tough, and no one can really lead.

After I won the first game, I thought that’s good progress, a week ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of taking a game of Raneem, so I told myself, if you lose the second game, it doesn’t matter. And that helped me to keep pushing.

At the moment, I lack match fitness for sure, I lack confidence… And you know, I love playing Raneem. It’s so easy, not easy but fluid, and I don’t mind her outplaying me for several rallies, sometimes it’s just nice to see her play.

I’m happy, but I cannot get ahead of myself, it’s only the quarters. Oh my God, it’s only the quarters! Tomorrow, the semis, after beating Raneem El Welily. It’s my fault, I really stiched myself with my performance those past months and it’s my fault if I get to play Raneem in the quarters.

I’m happy I managed to hang in there, that I was smart at the end, that I went short. I’m proud of what I’m achieved today but I couldn’t have done it without looking at my coach Hossam Nasser and my dad at each point. The good point is that today I was calmer than the match before where I was calmer than the match before. This is progress.

With the rain, it was hard to prepare. I have been staying at home up to now, but I had decided to come to the hotel today to be with Raneem. You know, Raneem has been helping me a lot during those past months, she really encouraged me. I don’t have clothes to play tomorrow! I really didn’t expect to win, so I have to give my dad my clothes for him to wash and dry for tomorrow’s match…