Saturday, March 2, 2024

Mostafa Asal enjoys his first trip to Switzerland as Nour El Sherbini fights back to win the first Grasshopper women’s tournament

By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)

Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini and Mostafa Asal were victorious in the finals of the Grasshopper Cup in vastly contrasting styles.

Asal was in sparkling form as he overpowered Marwan ElShorbagy 13-11, 11-2, 11-5 in 39 minutes to claim this PSA Gold title at Halle 622 in Zurich.

El Sherbini’s 9-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-3, 11-4 triumph over Hania El Hammamy took almost twice as long, requiring 76 minutes on court to win the first Grasshopper women’s tournament.

El Sherbini, the World No.2, secured her first title on Tour since winning her sixth World Championship crown back in May, thanks to an incredible comeback performance to overcome World No.3 Hania El Hammamy in a thrilling five-game battle.

El Hammamy, who defeated El Sherbini in the semi-finals of the CIB Egyptian Open last month, made a bright start as she opened up a 7-2 lead in the first game, one she eventually won 11-9 despite a fightback from the World No.2.

A close, high quality second game then went the way of El Sherbini who came out on top to draw level, edging it 11-9.

Nour El Sherbini volleys in the Grasshopper Cup final against Hania El Hammamy

Both players exchanged the lead in the third before El Hammamy eventually reclaimed the lead with a 12-10 victory. The world No.3 then requested the new ball heading into the fourth as she looked to notch another title for the season, but it was El Sherbini who profited, taking game four 11-3 with a dominant display.

The tournament’s top seed was in her groove, and that showed in the decider as El Sherbini came out on top 11-4 to become the first women’s champion of the Grasshopper Cup in Zurich.

El Sherbini said: “It’s hard coming from 1-0 and 2-1 down. I always try to get my experience out on the court and I’m glad I had my coach today Greg (Gaultier) – he gave me full support and pushing by telling me I can win this, keep focusing on every point and I think it worked.

“It’s never easy, it’s always hard winning each point and Hania’s an amazing player and she beat me the last few times I think. For most of the match I was leading and she came back, which she’s known for. I just wanted to keep focusing on every point – I didn’t want to give any cheap points.”

Nour El Sherbini celebrates her victory in Zurich

Egypt’s World No.5 Mostafa Asal bounced back from his disappointing exit at the U.S. Open earlier this month to claim the Grasshopper Cup title on his first visit to Switzerland, defeating compatriot Marwan ElShorbagy in straight games.

Asal moved into an 8-3 advantage early on in the first game, but ElShorbagy managed to pull it back to 10-10 as he saved two game balls.

In a tense tiebreak, Asal was able to edge past his fellow countryman to win 13-11. From there, the young player known as the ‘Raging Bull’ dropped just seven more points as he cruised to the title.

Afterwards he acknowledged the success that ElShorbagy has achieved this season since partnering with coach Rodney Martin, but also mentioned how physically draining that extra workload can be if you are always reaching finals.

In contrast, he recognised that his early exit in the U.S. Open, caused by disqualification when he struck opponent Lucas Serme on the head with a wayward shot, allowed him to rest his own body ahead of flying to Zurich for the first time.

Mostafa Asal on the way to victory on his first visit to Zurich

He said: “Thanks to the crowd! It’s my first time being here in Switzerland and I got the tournament. I’m really happy to play in front of you guys.

“Thanks to everyone who made this tournament, and  I couldn’t be more proud of myself.”

Referring to his opponent, he added: “He’s really dangerous, he’s someone I looked up to when I was a junior, and he’s playing fantastic. All credit to him – he’s not 100 per cent or even 70 per cent because he’s been playing so many tournaments.

“My early exit in the US Open helped me to perform here. Thanks to everyone and thanks to the sponsors of the tournament.”

The next event on SQUASHTV will be the new-look Nations Cup, which will take place with experimental scoring in Tauranga, New Zealand, from November 3-6.

The next PSA World Tour event will be the New Zealand Open from November 8-13 at the same venue in Tauranga.

PSA Gold 2022 Grasshopper Cup, Halle 622, Zurich, Switzerland.

Men’s Final:
[3] Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt [7] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-0: 13-11, 11-2, 11-5 (39m)

Women’s Final:
[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [2] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-3, 11-4 (76m)

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour 


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