Saturday, December 9, 2023

Nour El Tayeb back on the title trail as she and Youssef Soliman win inaugural Zed Open finals

By JANE BALL (Squash Mad Reporter)

Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb has won her first PSA title since becoming a mother after the World No.11 overcame top seed and compatriot Salma Hany to win the inaugural women’s CIB Zed Squash Open.

Victory in this PSA World Tour Bronze event is El Tayeb’s first PSA title since October 2020 and the 12th of her career. The 29-year-old, who is married to world champion and world No.1 Ali Farag and gave birth in July of last year, got the better of World No.9 Hany by an 11-7, 12-14, 11-6, 11-4 scoreline in 74 minutes,

El Tayeb was just two points from victory when a loss of power at Zed Park resulted in a lengthy delay.

That only served to be a minor impediment to El Tayeb’s title charge as she quickly dispatched Hany upon her return to court to complete a win which will see her move back into the world’s top 10 when the PSA Women’s World Rankings are published tomorrow.

“I feel great. It’s one of the happiest titles I’ve won,” said El Tayeb afterwards.

“I took a year’s break, so I wanted to do well coming back after having a baby. This week, with how my preparation was in pre-season and how I was mentally and physically, to play such a tough match, physically, emotionally and psychologically, I’m very happy with how I played.

“When it happened [the power cut], I’m glad it didn’t happen when we were closer in the match. It’s the first time this has happened to me, and I was just trying to take everything in as it’s a big final.

“I’ve only played one big final in Egypt before, but it was a new experience for me and I was trying accept it, and I’m glad I managed to control it.”

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The men’s final followed the women’s and top seed Youssef Soliman has gone from A to Zed without dropping a game. He captured the biggest PSA title of his career after a sublime display from the World No.17 saw him beat No.2 seed Victor Crouin in straight games.

Soliman has won the title without conceding a single game after powering past Rui Soares, Moustafa El Sirty and Raphael Kandra, in contrast to Crouin, who battled through two five-game contests against Juan Camilo Vargas and Balazs Farkas in the second round and quarter-finals.

Soliman hit his targets with aplomb and completely nullified Crouin as he completed an 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 victory to secure the ninth PSA title of his career.

“To win my biggest title in Egypt, in front of a home crowd, my friends and family, it means a lot,” Soliman said.

“I need to thank some people behind this tournament for having us this week. Like I’ve said before, this is the best Bronze event to happen to the PSA and I’m looking forward for this tournament to keep going.”

El Tayeb and Soliman also take early leads on the CIB Road to Egypt Standings. Points are on offer at all PSA World Tour events during the 2022-23 season, with the top eight players qualifying for the season-ending CIB PSA World Tour Finals.

The next stop on the PSA World Tour will be the Qatar Classic in Doha from September 4-10, and the South Western Women’s Open, which will be held in Houston, United States, between September 6-11. Both tournaments will be shown live on SQUASHTV.

2022 CIB Zed Squash Open, Zed Park, Cairo, Egypt.

Men’s Final:
[1] Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt [2] Victor Crouin (FRA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 (48m)

Women’s Final: 
[2] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [1] Salma Hany (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 12-14, 11-6, 11-4 (74m)

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour


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