Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-2 Tinne Gilis (BEL) 11-3, 8-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8 (55m)
To be honest, at the end of the first game, I didn’t think Tinne would last very long on there. A freezing court – making Qatar feeling warm, that tells you – and in 5m, 11/3, the opener was done and dusted.
But from the second on, a completely changed Tinne came on court. Running after every ball, putting pressure on Nour as she went for every half a chance to attack, and it worked. 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6. Zooming to 10/6 did the Belgium, finally taking the second, 11/8 in 10m.
Tinne will watch the match and like us, wonder what the heck happened in that third! She was up 5/2, then 8/5, only to lose the next 6 points, 11/8 Nour in 8m.
But the Belgium kept at it, kept pushing, and running, and chasing the impossible dream, and catching it in the 4th! 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6, 8/6 9/7 Tinne. Was she going to be able to push Nour on a freezing court, at home, to a decider? Bet your heater she did. Saving a match ball 10/9, it was her turn to string the points, and she equalises, 12/10 in 12m.
Feeling under pressure, Nour made 2 errors in three points at the beginning of the decider, all credit to Tinne. But from 3/3, the World number One seemed to be cruising to victory, 6/3, 8/4, 9/5. But Tinne didn’t throw the towel yet, bless her. Incredible chasing after incredible chasing, she was back at 8/9.
Still Nour, with an incredibly accurate backhand drive stuck to the wall, manages to clinch the game and match, 11/8, 12m game.
Absolutely gem of a match, again, not a block, not a discussion, not a bullying in site…
In the beginning I got outplayed, I didn’t really know what to do, I was hitting it hard with her, which was not working at all as I absolutely got chopped.
But from the second game on, I was like OK, this is not working, and I was thinking, what did I do against her last time when I was that close. And what I was doing was I was attacking every opportunity, I went for it. And that’s what I started to do from the second game on.
I was still hitting hard, but I was trying to slow down if I was under pressure, and then when I had the opportunity, I just went for it, going short.
This court is so dead, and I was thinking if it’s a short shot, she is going to be in trouble, so I’ve got to go quick and play again. I think that’s what I did differently… And it was working, so I kept doing it…
But so disappointed….
Nour El Sherbini
“Two matches back-to-back, 3-2. It is tough! I am very lucky to go through this time. Tinne surprised me the last couple of times we have played. I tried to be strong, have a good gameplan, but she is very strong and very good. I am enjoying these tough matches against her and we are definitely going to have more tough matches like this again!
“Even if I am not the defending champion, I am still the highest seed. That means there’s no pressure on them, they want to play the best and they always get the bets out of the. I am trying to get used to the pressure, trying to not be stressed or under pressure, to always play and enjoy my squash. Getting the win today is a really good start, and I like to play a tough first match, so it’s a good start for me!
“I just tried to stay in every point. Even when I was up in the last game, she came back and won a few points in a row. I think, I just wanted to start the fifth game strongly and take a big lead, and that helped me to win the match!”