Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-2  Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 9-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-3 (81m)
Let’s be honest here. My money was on Nour Catwoman El Tayeb big time.
Come on, Nour was coming back from the dead – she was saved by Camille losing to Amanda, played beautifully in the semis, should have had the confidence of winning Manchester, and had spent 77m less time on court than her opponent, young Hania El Hammamy.
Add to that it was Hania’s first CIBFinals, she had reached the final of the event for her first time, and out of their 8 encounters, she only took one win, it was if I remember well right at the back of the Worlds and Nour was flat as it comes if I remember well.
As if the pièce montée was not high enough, they had played in the pools, and Nour had won 2/1. So, I was really expecting a Nour win.
And it looked like I was on the right track when Catwoman recovered from a 6/3, 7/4 deficit, scoring 6 points in a row to set up 3 game balls, 10/7. Three errors from Hania at 7/7 helped. Legs were burning probably, lactic acid in the muscles, and it’s 11/9 for Nour, in 15m. Not a single error from Nour.
Hania starts the second game with 2 errors, but so does Nour. 2/2. 3/3. 4/4.5/5. The rallies are sublime, sorry to be a bit grandiloquent, but they were. Mid pace, all four corners utilised, attacking, lob defence, superb, superb squash really. 7/7, 8/8. Again, a tired error from Hania. S9/9. Tin. 10/9 to Nour.
A let challenged by Hania, stays a let – she needed to breathe – and a video decision, let, and finally stroke to Nour, 11/9, 26 bleeping minutes of incredible squash.
Surely, that’s the end. Or is it. Hania is not giving up, bless her little cotton socks, but she is tired, and it’s showing. 1/1. 2/2. 3/3. Nour finds winners, painful ones, at the end of long rallies, 7/4. I remember telling out loud “she has enough.”
But a nth long rally, ending with the ball out of court from Nour. And out of the blue, Hania shouts one of her high pitch COMME OOOOOON. And that’s the turning point of the match. Second wind? Pride? Knowing that she did it to Camille in the Worlds last year, down 2/0 and back to take it?
Not sure. But she takes that third in 20m, 11/9, from 8/8 to 10/8, 11/9.
Ok, she had a last run, now time to bow gracefully. Je t’en fiche! The Gazelle takes the 4th, 11/4 in 7m. We have been playing for 70m. The fifth is a formality really, 9/0, 10/2, 11/3, in 10m.
Absolutely breathtaking come back – apparently, it’s all due to the presence of her grandmother…
“I’m over the moon, I can’t believe I actually did it. 2-0 down against Nour El Tayeb, it’s a nightmare and I want to see the time of the match – it’s really tough playing against her, she’s so strong physically and I’m really proud of myself after being 2-0 down, I kept pushing and I kept digging in.
For the past week the positive thing has been that I kept fighting and today I can add that I am so happy with my performance.
At the beginning I kept making a lot of errors and that gave her the advantage in the first two games. When I became patient and I kept playing straight lines and found my length and shots then that made the difference.
I think I’m at my best when I’m down. I was so stressed at the beginning, whereas last year, I had no pressure, I was the underdog, I was playing freely, and I was so hungry.
But this year, I feel I’m on the top girls, and the pressure is on me. But when I got to 2/0 down, I told myself, oh well, if I lose, I don’t mind, but at least, I want to perform well.
It was such a hard match, Nour is so strong physically, so it means that I’m doing something right. I worked very hard during the lockdown on my fitness with my fitness coach Sami Farag.
I need to thank everyone, my coach Haitham Effat, my fitness coach Sami Farag, my mum my dad and my grandmother who came only for the final, and maybe that was what the miracle of coming back from 2/0 comes from… and of course, all my friends that were here, I think that made a difference too…