R3:  Salma Hany (Egy) 3-1 [9/16] Rowan Elaraby (Egy) 13-11, 11-9, 8-11, 12-10 (52m)
If I hear anybody saying again that the Egyptian domination is bad for the sport, I will just refer them to that match. One of the best I’ve watched. The quality of the shots, the flair that both displayed, the court coverage Salma Glamour displayed today – I didn’t know she was THAT fit – the feathery long drop shots/volley drop shots that Rowan Tinkerbell found, the intensity, the talent, the drama till the end…
BAD FOR THE SPORT? REALLLLLYYYYY????
Imagine that: two girls, Salma, established for a few years, but had a bit of “traversée du désert”, a few months of searching for her squash on there, with a few not too good results like losing in the first round twice in a row at home at BlackBall – her own club – for example. 24, world number 10.
On the other side, the fragile-looking Rowan, but don’t be fooled by her skinny arms, she hits the ball as hard as Nouran Gohar, that’s telling you, and at 20 years old, already number 14, and with two World Junior titles on her mantel piece.
Both have power, skills, determination, rage to win. And boy did it show.
A 15m opener to set the pace! Nothing between them really, 10 winners each, only 2 errors for Tinkerbell, 1 for Glamour Girl, 13/11. I rarely enjoyed a game that match. The pace, the energy, the shot variations, accuracy from both, attacks and retrieving. It had it all. First blood to Salma.
The second sees an excellent start from the Wadi Degla young star, 4/1, but penalised a lot for her movement 4 times actually in that game– personally, I thought it was harsh decisions but what do I know – she is then caught up 5/5. 7/5, 9/6 for Same. A succession of quick winners for Tinkerbell Rowan, 9/9. But out of nowhere, Salma manages to close it out, and it’s 11/9 in 11m for the BlackBall girl, now 2/0 up.
In the third, Salma lost a bit of her intensity – not exactly surprising, like I said, I didn’t know she could run that much – and Rowan took her chances beautifully. Oh, those long drop shots, seriously, it has to be studied, like Tarek Momen’s shots. How do they do it? 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, and despite a few errors, Tinkerbell will find her best squash, 10 winners for 11/8 in 11m. An incredible no errors from Salma, but only 4 winners.
The fourth has the intensity of the first and second game. Nothing between them, I was in the middle of both camps, and I myself was getting breathless, for absolutely no good reason!
Tinkerbell up 6/3, surely it’s enough, but 7/7, 8/8. 9/9. The shots, the rallies, superb squash, but a few errors from Rowan – her high percentage squash is starting to cost her points with the fatigue of the match. Five points given, for only one error from Salma.
Rowan saves the first match ball but will tin the last two points, and it’s 12/10 for Salma, 12m game.
What a game. What a sport. Amazing athletes. God bless Egypt.
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 15, 2021
Salma: “You can tell it was pretty easy right? No, it was brutal from the word go. Rowan is an amazing player and I knew I had to be very focused from the beginning and I made sure to be aggressive from the first point.
“First two games were very crucial. I had to do some very hard work to win those games and I think, in the third, I laid back a little bit. She was firing in the third and the fourth as you could see, attacking from everywhere on the court. All credit to her to be honest.
“In the fourth, I just thought that I wanted to win, I had to dig deep. She played her best squash in the last two games but I am glad I went through.
“To be honest I love being here and playing here. There is no pressure because the last two tournaments, I got knocked out in the first round. What worse can happen, right? I just make sure I enjoy my time out there, and playing in front of my home crowd and at my home club is a bonus. I am glad I managed to get through and to play another day.”
You seemed very positive for this match ?
“I’m enjoying my squash again. When you come out of the juniors, it’s all exciting, people don’t know your game, you climb up the rankings very quickly – we all did – but then, it’s like a moment where you are not too happy about what you do, about who you are.
“For the past two years, I have been working with Wael El Hindi in Florida, also Zac Brooks, and my team here in Egypt, Abdelrahman elsergany and my physical coach, Mohamed Shihy. And I have matured. I think that before I wanted to work on things and I wanted to have results now! But now I know it takes time, that for some people it take longer, and that’s all right.
“It’s a huge gap to reach the top ten, then it’s another huge one to try and get higher. I have to trust the work I’m doing, I have to trust the process, discipline, patience, day after day play a huge role, and believing in the dream, always.”