Wednesday, June 12, 2024

British Open Squash: SJ Perry no match for World No.1 Nouran Gohar

Birmingham — Sarah-Jane Perry has vowed she is going nowhere despite being ultimately out-gunned by World No.1 Nouran Gohar in a 34-minute straight games British Open quarter-final defeat.

Now 32, the England No.1 put up a gutsy performance, throwing everything at the fast and furious Gohar, only to see her nine-year losing streak against the biggest-hitting female player of the lot continue.

Yet, despite motherhood and burgeoning family commitments Perry has admitted that she will fight on and can still lift her levels.

“I’m sat here really disappointed and feeling I could have done better than that tonight,” she said. “But that underlines to me I still have that desire, still have that hunger to improve.

“I have had a difficult nine months or so but I’ve come out of that and I’m playing squash how I want to and the consistency and extra 5% accuracy will come and my body is getting stronger.

“So I still have a lot of hunger and desire not just to get back where I was but to lift that level.”

There can be no doubt that Perry lifted her level from her previous erratic performance against Nada Abbas but the problem is Nouran Gohar – in squash terms – is from another planet.

The feeling persisted that if the home hope and highest-ranked Englishwoman was to confound the odds she would have to win the first game.

Unfortunately, with Gohar flying out the traps, her timing a treat and her movement  fluid – despite it being Ramadan – it was the World No.1 who prevailed 11-5.

Yet the hometown girl would not go away and in the second game Perry’s use of delay and direction change, width and invention were, at times superb. But the ball kept coming back and Gohar kept ending a point she had been under the cosh throughout with the ace in her hand. 11-4 Gohar.

Two games down is a long way back for anyone, however resolutely the shell-shocked home crowd tried to lift their favourite.

Thus, despite a third game last stand Custer would have been proud of, this was indeed to prove another Mission Impossible and a final stroke against handed the Egyptian an 11-6 success and an untroubled passage into the semis.

Read More: How world reacted to Diego Elias reaching squash World No.1 

As Perry admitted, putting a stoke in the wheels of the turbo-charged Gohar is one big headache. “Nouran is very difficult to break down and that is what you are trying to do and I feel like I have the game to do it but I just couldn’t execute it – again.

“Too many loose balls and too many errors but that is the pressure she puts you under as well and it’s really annoying as I feel like I know what I’m doing and that I can do it better but I will go away and work harder to achieve that.

“I guess I need to get Rob (Owen) to hit the ball harder at me and we did a bit the other day and his arm is still hanging off!”

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