Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 3-2  Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 11-3, 6-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-6 (69m)
Hania. 19 years old. So gifted but no really believe in her chances. Yes, she appears like she is but she doesn’t, not really. Came on court with 45m more squash in the legs than her opponent, and having gone through Camille Serme (une paille… as you do) in a sublime match yet again as their other two previous encounters, then Amanda Sobhy, first ever victory against the PSA Fastest Shooter!
Needless to say my money was on Sarah Jane. I love watch the English player play. Her movement is truly impressive for somebody of her height. She has worked so hard to improve the physical aspect of her squash, and she is now on of the most skilful player of the Tour, and what she retrieves tonight is nothing short of an exploit, cause apart from the Kitchen Sink, Hania threw everything at her!!!!
But in my mind, the first game is the turning point. Five minute opener, 6/1, 11/3 Hania. It made her believe she could do it. Haitham Effat, Hania’s coach, sitting next to me, came back from coaching his protegee and told me “it’s not going to be as easy as that”… with his little smile. And it wasn’t….
From one unforced error in the first game, the Gazelle made 7 in the second! Sarah Jane was in front of her, despatching the shots, and volleying everything deep in the back or killing it sharply at the front. No chance for Hania to find her rhythm, 12m 3/1, 6/3, 9/5 and 11/6, with Sarah Jane, one error per game…
Back to the blackboard for the Egyptian, and she did that well. She came back, zooming 5/0 and 8/2. There, a little hitting the wall moment, thank you very much says the Gladiator, if you insist, stringing 7 points in a row, thanks to 3 errors from Hania… Hania manages to finally score a point, 9/9, and that’s the moment the English chose to make her only error of the game.. 10/9, a lovely deep length that dies at the back, and it’s 11/9 to Hania, 13m.
OF COURSE, it went to five. Sarah Jane played her best squash in that fourth, controlling the T and forcing the young girl to visit the court a few times, from 2/2, 4/4, 8/4 and 11/7, in 18 very long minutes.
For me, that was it. There was no way the Gazelle would have enough left in the tank to overcome the power and accuracy of the Gladiator. When the Egyptian went 4/1, Haitham told me that SJ was going to give it a big push. And she did. Superb rallies, accurate, that backhand side, perfect length and height from both, incredible squash.. As close at 4/6 for SJ. But with the adrenalin flowing in her racquet, somehow, the young girl got that decider, 11/6, with SarahJane making again only one error in that game…
Interesting fact: Hania looked at her coach the whole match for support. But when she scored to get to 10/6 match ball, her scream and look was…. for Nevine, her mum….
Not too bad considering that I had no short game today. Every shot was hard work today, the other days, it was easy and flowing freely, but today, I had to think with every shot.
She was trying to twist and turn me today, I think I did alright most of the match with it, but I was a bit slow on a couple of shots, but I felt alright physically.
I’ve been watching all the top players and have been dreaming of these days and reaching these finals. I’ve worked so hard in the off season and in between tournaments to work on my weaknesses and I’m really pleased it’s paying off.
SJ is very tricky. Whenever I gave her an opening, whenever I changed my plan she found herself and would take advantage of any loose ball or shot, so I had to be really consistent and stop making mistakes.
I’m really out of words. I’m over the moon, I can’t believe I’m playing in the final tomorrow. I think this is the toughest tournament I have ever played. I’ve had a lot of tough matches and I’m really proud of myself for pushing myself and winning such tough battles.
🗣 “I’m over the moon with my performances throughout the whole week. I hope I can keep going tomorrow and win my first Platinum title.” 🏆
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 13, 2020