Raneem El Welily (Egy) 3-2  Camille Serme (Fra) 3-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 (61m)
Raneem reduces her mum to tears, but for a good cause …
I cannot remember Reeme Mansi – Raneem’s mum – ever crying in public after a Raneem’s match. Win or lose. I did see her cry today. And her tears brought mine up…. Don’t ask….
Incredible nail-biting encounter for Raneem’s camp. “I thought I was going to have a heart attack” laughed CIB Vice President Hussein Abaza, the Godfather of Egyptian Squash. “I couldn’t take much more, and she nearly killed me” he concluded.
After her win against Nouran the night before, Camille got on court as confidence as I ever saw her. She just got her revenge from the squash lesson she got from Nouran in the British Open Final, she had taken a game from Raneem in the groups… She had nothing to lose, the conditions seemed to suit her game to a T.
And oh my, she truly and utterly outplayed a nervous Raneem in the opener. In 7m, the French number one went 5/0, 10/2, 11/3. Ca, c’est fait, as we say in French. Box ticked.
Thing was, Camille was planted on the T, her length was powerful and immaculate, while Raneem lacked weight in her. It’s not that she couldn’t find her length, but she just lacked energy and purpose, opening the court to a Camille, as free as a French Bird.
The second was to be even more excruciating for the Raneem’s camp as she went up 4/0, 5/1, but Camille slowed down the pace to nearly a still pace, lobbing everything, taking the power away from the Enigma. Unable to find the angles and attacks she normally excels at, Raneem kept stuck at back on the French lady, and couldn’t stop her coming back to level at 6/6, 7/7. Huge rallies, but from 8/9, it’s all about Camille, a crispy backhand trickle boast and a trademark backhand volley drop, 11/8 in the longest game of the match, 16m.
4 errors and 6 winners for Raneem, 2 errors and 7 winners for Cam.
But if the French had a good advantage 2/0, three factors played a huge role from that point on. 1. The hard work Raneem made her opponent do started to pay dividends at that point. 2. Raneem spent a whole event – DPD in Holland – winning 5 setters, from the first round to the final. And if the “Old Raneem” would have doubted of her physical strength, on this one, she KNEW she could do it. She didn’t have to force it, go for too much, she had it in her mind that yes, she could win the match, as long as she kept digging and running. And 3. Camille hadn’t beaten Raneem since the Dubai World Series Final in 2017 – the same event when she last beat Nouran funnily enough.
That’s a lot in the balance.
Camille came back on court a different player. Tired, her length wasn’t as heavy and deep, lacked power. Not much. But just enough for Raneem to take confidence in her chances again.
The third is 11m, Camille never looked dangerous, the crowd started to believe again, and the support became louder and louder. 3/0, 5/2, 9/5, 11/7.
Raneem 9 winners, 3 errors, Camille 4 winners for 2 errors.
Very good start in the fourth for the French, taking charge again, 4/2, only to see Raneem score the next 9 points. Incredible noise coming from the crowd, and as incredible squash coming from the Enigma’s racquet., 9m 11/4.
The third I feel, the score doesn’t tell how hard Camille fought 4/1, 6/3. At 4/6, Camille is close and starts worrying Raneem. A sublime rally, high, very high quality squash, but the Egyptian is full of confidence, and an error doesn’t stop her to set up her first match ball, 10/5.
An error gives Camille a little bit of hope, short lived, as Raneem finds a last winner on her backhand, and it’s 11/6 in 10m.
Only 1 stroke the whole match.
A high, very very high quality squash, with Camille heartbroken at the end, and Raneem, extremely emotional, coming through the VIP section, thanking all the sponsors, her team, but most of all, dedicating this victory to her mum, in tears, and her dad, so proud.
I feel that each time I get closer to beat her, but then again I don’t. I believe in myself, but it’s just not enough.
Today, after the second game, I just got tired, and didn’t have the strength anymore to get to the ball as quickly as I could, I was just too slow. The arms as well got tired, I couldn’t put as much weight in the ball than I did in the beginning and that made all the difference.
But still, I feel I had a great season, I managed to reach the quarters and the semis of most of my tournaments, and this summer, I’m going to work really hard to try and get a step further.
Maybe some nerves at the beginning of the game, I remember at some point thinking I didn’t want to disappoint my home crowd and family. But after the second game, I just gave it everything I had.
The support from the crowd means a lot, thank you so much to everyone today. I really couldn’t have done it without them, they can me the push that I needed, so thank you to them.
Camille played really well today, she pushed me to the limit and she was just on fire the first two games. It took a lot of effort and mental strength to push myself and comeback from what she did. I still cannot believe I came back from the dead, it was really tough. She was killing me out there.
The game plan she had today was crazy good and I salute her for a great season, she has had an incredible season and so close to winning some things but not quite there, but I’m sure she will come back stronger next season and I told her that after the match. She played really well and deserved to win one title, so next season will be hers maybe.
All day long I was struggling with the idea of maybe having to play three games or even five, but when I was 2-0 down I thought it was best of five for a reason. I just fought and tried to run as much as I can and get everything back to stay in the rally as long as possible. Maybe focus a little bit more and calm down whenever needed and those words in between games really helped.
Now I’m looking forward to some rest. Of course I have a lot of people to thank. First my squash coach, Haitham Effat, who’s been on my side and supporting me all season. My fitness coach Ahmed Faragallah, keeping me fit, my physio Dr. Mohamed Amin, my nutritionist Dr. Hany Wahba, I have never been healthier, thank you…
Wadi Degla, and Karim Darwish, I cannot believe what you managed to do in such a short time. I spoke with the players and all of them were very happy to be here, and surprised how well the tournament was organised. Thanks to my sponsor Harrow, CIB and Mr Hussein Abaza, couldn’t have done anything without CIB care and support. My husband, Tarek Momen, he couldn’t get the win this time, but hopefully next time. And finally my parents. Last time you came to see me, I didn’t win, but this time I did…