Hania El Hammamy in action.
Hania El Hammamy in action.

El Hammamy Beats Gohar on Day Two

World No.3 Hania El Hammamy ended a three-match losing run against World No.1 Nouran Gohar on day two of the CIB PSA World Tour Finals to move to the summit of Group A in the women’s event.

Held at Cairo’s EDNC SODIC, the CIB PSA World Tour Finals features the top eight male and female players on the CIB Road to Egypt Standings, with points for the standings on offer at all PSA World Tour events throughout the 2022-23 season. The group stage uses a round robin, best-of-three games format as players bid to qualify for the knockout stages.

El Hammamy – the 2019-20 World Tour Finals champion – is on the verge of qualification for the last four after she came back from a game down to defeat Gohar by a 10-11, 11-10, 11-4 scoreline.

“I think I should be disappointed that I haven’t been able to get more wins against her since January,” said El Hammamy.

“But I’m definitely trying to end this season on a high with some good performances like tonight, hopefully I can keep playing like this for the rest of the tournament. I want to start with a new head to head [record] against her next season.

“If I want to win the tournament it doesn’t matter if I’m first or second in the group. I have to be able to win every match against every player, so I’m just focused on playing my best squash and trying to satisfy myself a little bit before the end of the season.”

The other match in Group A saw Belgium’s Nele Gilis claim her first win at the World Tour Finals courtesy of an 11-10, 4-11, 11-6 win against USA’s Olivia Fiechter.

“It was really tough, I didn’t know when to start warming up,” said Gilis, whose match ended close to one o’clock in the morning.

“I was definitely feeling it, I was a bit tired and my legs were on survival mode. I’m very happy to get my first win at the World Tour Finals.”

It’s all to play for in terms of qualification, with all four players still able to reach the semi-finals. El Hammamy is currently in the driving seat though as she tops the group with seven points, meaning a win over Gilis in her final group match will see her qualify. Gohar is second with five points.

New Zealand’s World No.4 Joelle King won her opening match in Group B, navigating the discomfort of an ankle injury as she came from behind to beat England’s Georgina Kennedy 5-11, 11-8, 11-9. King is second in Group B behind World No.1 Nour El Sherbini, who tops the group due to having a higher percentage of points won.

In the men’s event, defending champion Mostafa Asal ended the day top of Group B following a 90-minute contest with World No.2 Diego Elias, which he won 10-11, 11-7, 12-10.

It was their first meeting since December’s Hong Kong Open final, where Asal came back from two games down to take the trophy, and it was a scrappy encounter with a number of traffic issues throughout.

Asal, who received two conduct strokes for impeding Elias’s movement unfairly, said: “It’s always controversial between me and Diego. It was a little bit unfair towards me today, I got a conduct stroke for grabbing the racket and I didn’t do that at all.

“There were a few mistakes but I’m happy to go through it, I’m learning from all of this. I was in a situation today which was harsh and there were similar decisions towards him. I’m trying to deal better with the referees, you can’t continue squash like this.”

Meanwhile, Egypt’s World No.8 Mazen Hesham got his first win at this event, beating Frenchman Victor Crouin 11-7, 11-6. Asal tops the group on seven points, with Elias second on five and Hesham behind him on four.

It’s a battle between Asal, Elias and Hesham for the semi-final spots, with Crouin’s attempts to qualify for the last four coming to an end. A 2-0 win for Hesham over Asal and a victory for Elias over Crouin would see Asal miss out on a spot in the semis, meaning he will have to be on his mettle despite his current position at the summit of the group.

“I’m very happy with the way I performed today,” Hesham said.

“Yesterday I wasn’t very happy with the errors I made at the crucial points. I’m trying to evolve and get better, but it’s going to take some time. I’m very happy to get my first win here and who knows, maybe I can win the next one and be in the semi-finals.”

In Group B, two-time champion Mohamed ElShorbagy began his campaign with a comfortable 11-6, 11-4 win over World No.9 Tarek Momen, who was a late call-up to the event following the withdrawal of ElShorbagy’s brother, Marwan, due to injury.

Day TWO Results :

Men’s Group A
[4] Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt [1] Diego Elias (PER) 2-1: 10-11, 11-7, 12-10 (90m)
[6] Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt [7] Victor Crouin (FRA) 2-0: 11-7, 11-6 (28m)

 Men’s Group B
[3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) bt [8] Tarek Momen (EGY) 2-0: 11-6, 11-4 (16m)

Women’s Group A
[3] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt [1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) 2-1: 10-11, 11-10, 11-4 (56m)
[5] Nele Gilis (BEL) bt [8] Olivia Fiechter (USA) 2-1: 11-10, 4-11, 11-6 (45m)

Women’s Group B
[4] Joelle King (NZL) bt [7] Georgina Kennedy (ENG) 2-1: 5-11, 11-8, 11-9 (34m)