Friday, July 19, 2024

Habiba shocks Sherbini to reach world final

Egyptian 15-year-old stuns favourite Nour in 94-minute thriller
By  Squash Mad Reporter


In one of the biggest upsets in the event’s history, 15-year-old outsider Habiba Mohamed Ahmed outlasted three-time champion and fellow Egyptian Nour El Sherbini in a 94-minute marathon to claim an unexpected place in the final of the World Junior Squash Championships in Namibia.

The 8-11, 5-11, 12-10, 11-8, 13-11 victory takes the 5/8 seed from Alexandria into the final of the World Squash Federation event at the Wanderers Sports Club in the Namibia capital Windhoek – where she will meet compatriotNouran Gohar, the No2 seed who beat 3/4 seed Mariam Metwally 9-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-0 in 41 minutes.

“Mohamed fought her way to victory after she was tested to the extreme by El Sherbini, who seemed destined to wrap it up in straight games after leading 2/0,” said event spokesman Corry Ihuhua.

“The two players delayed their play for 12 minutes in total after both got injured in separate games in a thrilling encounter that had the Centre Court packed to the rafters.”

Mohamed was the first to be treated after hurting her back while reaching for the ball in the decider – while El Sherbini suffered a knee injury.

“I did not expect to win at all,” said the jubilant Mohamed afterwards. “I never felt like this before. I am super excited. I told myself that this match was not over until either of us wins it.

“I pushed myself and gathered more confidence as play went on,” added the youngster ranked 41 in the world who, last November, became the youngest ever winner of a WSA World Tour title at 14 years and 5 months. “She really gave me a good run and I respect her because she is a strong and very committed player. But there had to be a winner.”

El Sherbini could not contain her tears after the match, saying: “It was the worst match that I ever had. But I congratulate Habiba for her performance. She is young and a very talented player and I wish her all the best in her career,” added the world No8.

By contrast, the men’s favourite Diego Elias eased into the other final in 42 minutes after ending Indian Kush Kumar‘s historic run. The 17-year-old from Peru, bidding to become his country’s first ever winner of the title, beat the 3/4 seed from Chennai – the first Indian to make the event’s last four – 11-5, 11-7, 11-4.

“I think in general it was a tight match and could have gone either way, but I kept my head up and focused on working hard by reaching out wherever the challenge was knowing the strengths of Kumar,” said the top seed later.

“He is the best junior in India and what happened today was pretty much what I was expecting.”

The other semi was a long-drawn-out affair between two players not expected even to reach the quarter-finals.

After 76 minutes, it was Omar Elatmas who prevailed when the Egyptian defeated Pakistan’s Syed Ali Mujtaba Shah Bokhari 13-11, 10-12, 11-9, 12-10.

Elatmas will be hoping for a repeat of his previous success in Namibia in April last year when he won the All Africa Junior Championship.

The 18-year-old Egyptian will be meeting Elias for the first time since the pair contested the 2013 British Junior U17 Open quarter-finals – a match which the Peruvian needed five games and 106 minutes to win before going on to claim the title.

RESULTS: WSF World Junior Squash Championships, Windhoek, Namibia

Men’s semi-finals:
[1] Diego Elias (PER) bt [3/4] Kush Kumar (IND) 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (42m)
[9/12] Omar Elatmas (EGY) bt [9/12] Syed Ali Mujtaba Shah Bokhari (PAK) 13-11, 10-12, 11-9, 12-10 (76m)

Women’s semi-finals:
[5/8] Habiba Mohamed Ahmed (EGY) bt [1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 8-11, 5-11, 12-10, 11-8, 13-11 (94m)
[2] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [3/4] Mariam Metwally (EGY) 9-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-0 (41m)

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