Friday, February 3, 2023

Nicol David and Nour El Sherbini to contest US Open final

Malaysian world number one bids for a hat-trick of Philadelphia titles 
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad Correspondent

Nour El Sherbini on the attack
Nour El Sherbini on the attack

Top seed Nicol David and No.7 seed Nour El Sherbini will contest the final of the Women’s Delaware Investments US Open in Philadelphia – Malaysian David bidding to become the first player in the 60-year history of the championship to win the title three times in a row, and Egyptian teenager El Sherbini looking to repeat her shock World Championship victory over the world number one in March.

us14nourcamPlaying her first major tournament after a five-month knee injury layoff, 18-year-old El Sherbini stormed into the final with a second consecutive stunning upset in the WSA World Series Platinum squash event at Drexel University.

Having already upset England’s world No.2 and reigning world champion Laura Massaro in the quarter-finals, El Sherbini came from a game down to beat France’s fourth seed Camille Serme.

The Alexandria-based Egyptian (pictured celebrating, right) made the better start in each of the four games, but after quickly falling 4-0 down in the first, Serme started to get into the match, levelled at five-all and ended the game going away for an 11-7 win.

El Sherbini shrugged that off to lead throughout the next two games, and although Serme managed to pull back to eight-all in the second and six-all in the third, the 25-year-old from Creteil could never quite get her nose in front, with youngster El Sherbini just having the slight edge in the ability to hit winning shots.

Serme battled back from 1-8 down to level the fourth, but a deep cross-court brought up match-ball for the Egyptian, and after a short exchange of volleys in the middle of the court, El Sherbini hammered the ball away to win 7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8 for a place in the final.

“I can’t feel anything right now,” said the delighted winner, now in her eighth WSA World Tour final. “I can’t believe I’m in the final of the US Open!

US14nicolran“In the first she was playing so well, killing everything, and I didn’t have a solution. I relaxed, started to play my own game and thankfully it worked, but I was so tired when she was coming back at the end, I was just hitting the ball and what happened would happen!”

By contrast, David reached her 95th WSA Tour final after seeing off Egyptian rival Raneem El Welily 11-3, 15-13, 6-11, 11-7.

The world No3 from Cairo proved to be David’s most difficult match of the tournament thus far, becoming the first player to take a game off the two-time defending champion in David’s longest match of the tournament, lasting 49 minutes.

“It feels great,” David (pictured right with El Welily) said of her win. “She started off not in the game, but I knew she would just keep coming back and hitting some amazing shots. I just really had to dig deep and come back to my own game and really stick to it. I’m so pleased to win that one 3/1.”

David admitted the importance of fighting off three games balls in the second game.

“I think it makes a huge difference between when you’re one all or two love up so I used that to my advantage. She came out and played better squash in the third, so I had to come back in the fourth and really switched on and played much better and won it.”

Women’s Delaware Investments US Open, Philadelphia, USA.

[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [3] Raneem El Welily (EGY) 11-3, 15-13, 6-11, 11-7 (49m)
[7] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [4] Camille Serme (FRA) 7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8 (54m) 

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