R2:  Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-2  Alison Waters (ENG) 9-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8, 14-12 (67m)
What a way to finish the day.
How amazing was 36 years old Alison Waters – if one day they decide to make a parfum called England, they’ll squash her in there for sure – ranked 16 but having been WR3, playing PSA for 20 years now, would nearly take out World number 2 Nouran Gohar.
If you have the chance to look at the match, you’ll see that nearly every shot, win or lose the point, Alison ends on the floor, giving her utmost best on every rally, as if it was match ball. And people, it pays off.
Yes, Nouran had a tough one yesterday, she could have easily lost her first round against Bazooka Farida, who pushed the newly engaged Egyptian up to 16/14 in the 5th. So maybe the legs a bit heavy to start the match. Down 6/9 in the opener, she managed to equalise 9/9, but first blood to the English Lady, 12m.
A better game for the Wadi Degla Star, always in front in that second, very low number of errors, one each, 2/2, 5/3, 5/5, 9/5, 11/8 in 10m, Nouran looking in charge. It was about to change. In the third, it’s the English that calls the shot, even if the score is pretty close. The energy comes from her, and Nouran is reacting. Well, but only reacting, not proactive. 2/2, 3/3, 5/5, 6/6, 7/7, 8/8. And what a finish for Ali, a drive forehand stuck to the wall, a stroke, and a deep crosscourt kill, 11/8 to the English, 10m game.
A scary moment in the 4th for the Egyptian Camp, as Nouran is obviously struggling with her foot – the same one that was injured a few months ago, forcing her to retire here actually. And if Nouran manages to stay in the game/match, we can see she is struggling to get to the right and forward. Still, grimacing, she gets the upper hand, 8/4. A superb push from Ali, fighting literally for every shot, 8/8. But this time, the three points in a row go to Nouran, and it’s 11/8 in 11m, with a huuuuuge COME ONNNNNN as she exits the court…
The 5th… 19 minutes of magnificent squash, both of them attacking, running – Nouran foot much better – retrieving, hitting so hard, finding feathery drop shots, volley drop shots, long drop shots… you name it. 1/1, 2/2, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6, 7/7. But Ali is a bit tired – I wonder why really, and start to miss her targets a bit. That gives three match balls to the Egyptian, 10/7.
Surely, that’s enough of a cushion? Que nenni – course not – and Ali forces a decider, 10/10. She gets a match ball of her own, 11/10, and gets unlucky there, clipping the front corner of the court, ball flies in the middle, and that’s a stroke against her. But she gets another chance, 12/11, another endless high paced rally, a deep drive that dies at the back takes care of that one, 12/12. A no let give Nouran her 4th match ball, “c’est la bonne”, that’s the one, and it’s 14/12 for the World number two.
Cue happy crowd…
I think that if I could have improved my short game by 10%, I would have won. I was not enough accurate on my short game, and I clipped the side wall a few times, that put me in trouble.
Yes, I have played Nouran a few times, especially one season I think we played three or four times, so I know what to expect. Some of the matches have been a bit… edgy, but today was a very clean match, very enjoyable.
But it’s nice to know I can still compete at that level, shame I couldn’t get it in the end…
Every tournament has something special and this tournament it seems like I’m playing five games – I just have to adapt and take it as it is. Alison played really well, it was very enjoyable out there even though it was tough at times. I felt tactically, we play at quite a similar pace and it was all about who would adapt and inject the pace and play the bigger points. I’m really glad it went my way today.
I had a niggle in my heel in the middle of the game but overall my body is holding itself.