Nour El Sherbini beats world number one Raneem El Welily to reach Brooklyn final
By LINDA CHARMAN in Brooklyn
World number one Raneem El Welily lost to fellow Egyptian Nour El Sherwin in the semi-finals of the Carol Weymuller Open. In the final, Nour will meet New Zealander Joelle King, who overcame India’s Joshana Chinappa.
The first semi-final was between giant-killer Joshana Chinappa from India, who is world #24 and a very on-form Joelle King, former world #4, who is doing a very impressive job of her comeback from her achilles injury that kept her out the game for a year.
Joelle started the match in the way that every player would want to, she was moving fluidly, taking the ball incredibly early with great pace and keeping her opponent pinned in the back and limiting Joshana’s chance to use her amazing short game.
Joshana didn’t manage to get herself moving the way she has been this tournament and Joelle got a 5-0 lead very quickly and even though Joshana got a sprinkling of points, in the end she never really found her rhythm or managed to rush or out maneuver Joelle who took the first 11-4.
The tables totally turned in the second game and Joshana came out on court in a similar fashion to Joelle’s first game with an array of wonderful winners and putting maximum pressure on her opponent. Her legs now seemed charged with energy and before we knew it Joshana was 6-1 up. At 2-7 Joelle started to find her great length again and managed to control the T more so Joshana had to work harder for the openings.
Joshana continued her run and went 10-5 up. Joelle gave a huge push to play her own game again and Joshana started to get a little edgy making several unforced and forced errors, and then a perfect dying forehand drive allowed Joelle to comeback to 9-10! The next rally was mammoth with both players covering the court so brilliantly and finally Joshana won the rally with a kill on the backhand, evening up the match to 1-1.
The start of the third came was even back and forth with Joshana 4-3 up with the rallies staying fast and ferocious. Joelle suddenly went back into the mode that she’d started the match playing very precisely and accurately and went straight through to win the next 8 points in a row to take the third 11-4.
In the fourth Joelle continued her relentless barrage of tight, accurate, powerful squash and she managed to surge forward to take an 8-3 lead. Joshana kept pushing and absorbing as much pressure from Joelle as she could. She must have had some tiredness in her legs from playing three very tough 3-2 matches previously but it didn’t really show that much. Then Joelle started to look nervous for the first time in the match as if she could suddenly see the finish line and a ticket to the Weymuller finals.
She played a handful of errors and things started to get very tense. At 9-8 Joelle played a backhand crosscourt drive than landed too short, but luckily for Joelle the ball found itself going straight into the nick taking her to 10-8 match point.
In true fair Joelle style she apologized for the luck that was thrown her way but she must have been relieved inside to get to her first match point. The last point of the match was won by a stroke (11-9) and taking Joelle to a 3-1 win.
A smiling Joelle said afterwards: “I’m really, really happy to back in a final of a big tournament and really enjoying being back in Brooklyn. It’s just nice to enjoying the playing some good squash again. It’s changes tomorrow as it goes back to be the hunter (rather than the hunted). The Egyptians are always so nice to play against because they play incentive squash. Here’s hoping that they play a five setter.”
The second semi-final match was an all Egyptian affair with team-mates Nour El Sherbini world # 7 who is still only 19 years old against newly crowned world #1 Raneem El Welily. Raneem recently took the #1 spot from Malaysian squash legend, Nicol David, who has dominated for the last 9 years.
As expected the match started off in true Egyptian style with both players using the front of the court as often as possible. The points stayed even most the way through the first game with Raneem reaching game ball first. There were crazy and delightful rallies with errors and amazing winners coming from both players throughout, but it was Raneem that clinched the first in the end 13-11.
It really is so much fun to watch these players in action, their creative squash and unpredictable choices kept us all on the edge of our seats!
Even though Raneem won the first nail biting game she came back out on court looking like she left her confidence in her racket bag. This was not helped by the fact that Nour was on fire and couldn’t miss and was playing freely and relaxed. An error ridden Raneem couldn’t stop Nour, who maintained her amazing play and soon took the second 11-4.
The third game was more like the first with the points going to both players evenly. The rallies were a little longer, they varied the pace and Raneem looked to have regained some of her previously fallen confidence. There was still a lot of back and forth with winners and errors from both players but it certainly kept us all guessing who would come through to take the crucial third game.
At 8-8 Nour did an amazing and very brave backhand cross court volley nick winner from a good high lob from Raneem. This seemed to take the rug out from under Raneem’s feet, as another error soon gave Nour the 2-1 lead winning the third 11-9.
The fourth game as completely one sided with Nour blasting through the game with winners and control and Raneem looked like she nothing left to throw at the match. Nour took an extensive 9-1 lead and Raneem’s last ditch attempt to get back some rhythm was pushed aside by Nour and she went on to take the match 11-5 in the fourth.
A delighted Nour said after her huge win: “I’m really really happy I won. She is my model in squash.
“Raneem has a lot of skills and is really fast and she deserves to be world #1. I’m really, really happy to win this match as last time I played her was three years ago at the Weymuller in this very court and I lost 3-1.
“Joelle has just come back from an injury and it’s great to see her competing as before. Hopefully it’s going to be a nice match. I’ll try to relax and forget about today and remember that there’s one more match to go.”
Congratulations to both winners who played absolutely amazing squash and we very much look forward to the final tomorrow between Joelle King and Nour El Sherbini at 7.30pm.
2015 Carol Weymuller Open, Heights Casino, Brooklyn, New York, USA.
Joelle King (New Zealand) beat Joshana Chinappa (India) 11-4, 9-11, 11-4, 11-8.
Nour El Sherbini (Egypt) beat Raneem El Welily (Egypt) 11-13, 11-4, 11-9, 11-5.
Pictures by JEAN ERVASTI