R1 :  Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-2 Farida Mohamed (Egy) 9-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-8, 16-14 (57m)
Yes, because Egypt needed another immensely talented young player to shine on the World of Squash. Farida Mohamed. AKA The Bazooka.
To be honest, I thought we were in for a huge upset after watching the Alexandria player disposed of the former number 1, in 8m the first game, 11/9, making 3 errors, none for Nouran, and same difference for the second game two, 9m, 5 errors, 2 strokes in her favour, one error for Nouran, 1 stroke, 11/8.
Like I said, it was surreal, watching those two play! Already during the warm up, I asked Ashraf Hanafi, promoter of the event and builder of Blackball if he had glass panels just in case those two would break the front wall with their hitting!
So we were 2/0 up for Farida. As all champions, Nouran reassessed, and came back with a vengeance, still short rallies, but now she is at the front, and making Farida do the work, 11/5 in 6m, 11/8 in 9m. Errors you may ask, non for Nouran in either games, I kid you not, Farida 2 in the 3rd, 1 in the fourth…
And so we were in a fifth. Who knew? And an extraordinary start for the 18 years old, 6-0. 6 forking 0 people. Against the world number 2! Did Nouran panic, no. She just put her head down, and point by point, clawed back to 8/8. And it’s not like Farida went wild and made errors. Just hard work from both.
8/8. Tin for Farida, No let for Nouran, 9/9. A forehand drive from Nouran, Farida not happy with her opponent’s movement, but it’s match ball, 10/9. Farida dives, forcing an error out of Nouran, her second of the match, match ball saved, 10/10. Farida sets up a first match ball of her own, 11/10, no luck, another chance at it at 12/11, again, saved by a whisker, 12/12.
It will take Nouran three more match balls, with Farida getting more and more frustrated by her opponent’s movement before we arrive at “video decision” at 15/15, as Farida was in Nouran’s way in the backhand back corner. A few very long seconds, and the word STROKE appears on the screen. Nouran is saved, Farida is out.
But people, remember the name: Bazooka Farida…
Usually I am the one who does that but she took me by surprise and I just had to adapt, which I don’t have to do a lot. It was new and it was not very enjoyable, but I will take it!
It wasn’t easy at all. I give it all. Sometimes you are not playing your best but I am very proud of the way I held myself today.
Being World No.2 is not easy at all but you have to earn this place by showing character before playing good squash, and I am glad I did this today and I proved that I can hold myself even when I am not playing my best.