Day One – As It Happened

Day one of the season-ending Xbox PSA World Tour Finals began today at the Boys and Girls Club Hidden Valley Field House in Bellevue with eight Round One Pool Matches

El Hammamy Opens Up with Win

Egyptian No.3 seed Hania El Hammamy got her title challenge under way with a 2-1 victory over compatriot Nour El Tayeb in the opening match of the event. El Hammamy and El Tayeb met in the final of the 2019-2020 edition – with El Hammamy winning on that occasion – and she also got the better of her fellow Egyptian today, coming back from a game down to win.

El Tayeb was able to extend the rallies and draw a number of errors from El Hammamy as she took the first game 11-8, but El Hammamy held firm in the second game to sneak it and level. El Tayeb made too many errors to trouble her opponent in the third, with El Hammamy completing an 8-11, 11-9, 11-5 win in 40 minutes to go top of Group B.

“After the first I regrouped and I tried not to hit the tin even if it was long and physical,” El Hammamy said afterwards. “In the second I made a lot of errors as well, but less than the first. The third was the best out of the three games, so I’m glad I managed to come back. It’s tough to play against someone as accurate as Nour, it was a difficult first round and I’m glad to get through it.

“I’ll go back, watch the match again, and see where I can improve for tomorrow’s match. If I get the win then the points don’t matter. Today I managed to get three points, I could easily have lost and then it would have been tough for me the next two days. The important thing is just to win.”

Result : [3] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt [7] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 2-1: 8-11, 11-9, 11-5 (40m)

Momen On Song to Beat Elias

World No.8 Tarek Momen made a superb start as he stormed to victory over World Champion Diego Elias with a quick-fire 2-0 victory. Momen recently celebrated the birth of his second child, but the lack of sleep doesn’t seem to have had a huge impact on the man known as ‘The Viper’ as he put in a dominant performance to win 11-7, 11-4.

Elias came nowhere near the form he displayed when he became the first South American to win the PSA World Championships last month and didn’t match Momen’s control and accuracy as the 36-year-old stormed to a second consecutive win over the World No.4. Momen now sits top of Group B on four points, the maximum available after one round of matches.

“He’s a quality player and getting a good win against him is something that I have to give myself credit for,” said Momen. “I know this court is dead and I knew it would suit me. We’ve been playing in hot conditions all year long, so I’m happy to play when it’s a bit chilly. I wanted to reset and refocus after the British Open, my head was all over the place. “My baby has arrived safely and I’m not worried about anything, I’m just trying to enjoy the last event of the season.

“I’ve seen people lose 2-0 on the first day and not make it, I’ve seen players win two in a row and still not make it. It’s always tricky in this format, so you’ve got to be on your toes the whole time.”

Result : [7] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [4] Diego Elias (PER) 2-0: 11-7, 11-4 (21m)

Gohar Holds Off Kennedy

Defending champion Nouran Gohar got off to a winning start after she earned a 2-0 win over England’s Georgina Kennedy to go top of Group B. World No.2 Gohar is in red hot form after winning four titles on the bounce, including the historic British Open earlier this month.

The 26-year-old settled quickly on court and took the ball down well on the volley, particularly in the middle of the court. After falling a game behind, Kennedy was able to put work into the Egyptian’s legs in the second, resulting in the first sudden death tie-break of the week. With the scores locked at 10-10, a tin from Kennedy then handed the win to Gohar.

Gohar now goes top of Group B on four points, a point ahead of arch-rival Hania El Hammamy, who sits in second, ahead of their match tomorrow.

“I think last year it didn’t go to sudden death, we had Power Plays, and I remember talking to my mental coach about being prepared for it,” said Gohar.

“Gina played pretty well today, she was moving well and covering the front of the court. It was a good match to start with. At the World Tour Finals you don’t have easy matches at the beginning, we played in the semi-finals of a Platinum a few weeks ago and it’s quite tough to get a good start. “There are some tweaks here and there that I need to improve on, but overall I think I managed it pretty well on the day.”

Result : [2] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [5] Georgina Kennedy (ENG) 2-0: 11-7, 11-10 (24m)

Coll Downs Hesham

World No.3 Paul Coll completed a 2-0 win over Egypt’s Maze Hesham to overtake Tarek Momen at the top of Group B. Coll had won all seven of his previous matches against Hesham coming into today’s match and extended his winning run courtesy of an 11-9, 11-2 win after just 22 minutes.

The opening game was the closest of the two, with Hesham often going for quick winners to put points on the board, however Coll was able to absorb the pressure and push the Egyptian into some length rallies, Coll never looked back after taking the first and the second game quickly followed as he took the maximum four points on offer.

“He came out of the blocks as I thought he would,” said Coll afterwards. “I knew what I had to do, I had to not panic and get in front of him. He’s a hard player to play in this format, so I’m happy with how I closed it out.

“I’ve won a few best of three tournaments, so I like to think I’m one of the favourites there. I actually don’t mind it, it takes one of my strengths out, but does add to some of my other strengths. If you make too many mistakes in this format it’s a killer, but I think it suits all of the top eight players really.”

Result : [2] Paul Coll (NZL) bt [6] Mazen Hesham (EGY) 2-0: 11-9, 11-2 (22m)

Sherbini Defeats Gilis In Strong Showing

World No.1 Nour El Sherbini began her campaign with a decisive victory over No.6 seed Nele Gilis, netting the 400th win of her career.

El Sherbini had won seven of their eight encounters, including their most recent meeting in the Qatar Classic quarter-final. The Egyptian earned a 2-0 win in quick fashion, looking faster and more aggressive than her Belgian counter-part. Gilis struggled throughout affair, only accumulating five points between the two matches. The two-time World Tour Finals winner plays home favourite Olivia Weaver tomorrow.

“The group stage is challenging and best-of-three is always tricky,” said Sherbini after the match. “You’re not use to playing a lot of best-of-threes and you’re playing the best players. You always play them in the quarters or the semis so it’s difficult to start playing them in the first round.

“It’s challenging to play a tournament like this at the end of the season. I’m just happy with the result, happy with the four points and we’ll just see how it goes for the next two matches.”

Result : [1] Nour ElSherbini (EGY) bt [6] Nele Gilis (BEL) 2-0: 11-3, 11-2 (15m)

Farag Takes Down Gawad

World No.1 Ali Farag defeated Egyptian compatriot Karim Abdel Gawad in two games. The No.1 seed deconstructed the former World No.1’s game effectively to finish the match in just 22 minutes. A strong start from Gawad diminished in the second game as Farag seized the intiative and won 11-7, 11-2 to earn four points.

“I’ve had lots of success here on US soil. I don’t know if it has to do with my years here. But definitely I feel very comfortable here,” said Farag after the match. “I found my corners in the back corners, he was stubborn, I was stubborn and until the backend of the first, and I think the fact that I won it gave me a big boost.”

Result : [1] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [5] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 2-0: 11-7, 11-2 (22m)

Weaver Claims First World Tour Win Over Gilis

USA No.1 Olivia Weaver defeated No.8 seed Tinne Gilis in straight games in her first win at the World Tour.

The American looked in command of the first games despite strong resistance from the Belgian, and a strong start to the second game from Gilis was thwarted by a Weaver comeback as the American won the match 11-9, 11-8 on home soil.

As the No.4 seed didn’t drop a game, Weaver earned four points and goes level on points World No.1 Nour ElSherbini.

Speaking after the match, Weaver said: “Feeling good. With this event, there’s no easing into it. I knew tonight was going to be tough.

“Both games were really tight. I couldn’t relax for a second and I’m really happy with how I came back in that second game.

“We’ve had a long stretch of events away from home, and there’s nothing better than playing in front of a passionate crowd here.”

Result : [4] Olivia Weaver (USA) bt [8] Tinne Gilis (BEL) 2-0: 11-9, 11-8 (27m)

Asal Beats ElShorbagy In Winning Start

Three-time World Tour Finals winner Mostafa Asal got his campaign underway in style with a win over England’s Mohamed ElShorbagy as he looks to win his fourth consecutive title.

Coming into the match, the Egyptian had a positive 5-2 record over his English opposition, most recently winning at this year’s Tournament of Champions.

In the first game, Asal kept ahead on the scoreboard as the Englishman struggled to keep pace, and earned a first-game win 11-6.

The dominance continued into the second game, as the recent-British Open champion pushed on to win 11-4 and claim four points from his first match of the tournament.

Speaking after the match, Asal said: “Mohamed is just a beast. He’s a legend and he’s had an unbelievable career. When you’re playing against him, it’s a pleasure.

“I’m happy to be here, defending my title. It’s an amazing tournament, I love it.”

Result : [3] Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt [8] Mohamed Elshorbagy (ENG) 2-0: 11-6, 11-4 (27m)