By JANE BALL (Squash Mad Reporter)
Egypt’s former World No.3 Nour El Tayeb has reached her first PSA World Tour final since becoming a mother after the 29-year-old put in a sensational performance to overcome Belgium’s Nele Gilis to reach the title decider of the inaugural CIB Zed Squash Open.
El Tayeb, who is married to men’s world champion and world No.1 Ali Farag, welcomed her daughter into the world in July 2021, but was back on the PSA World Tour just six months later as she marked her return to action with a quarter-final finish at the CIB Squash Open Black Ball, her first appearance on the tour since October 2020.
Since then, El Tayeb has steadily progressed up the PSA World Rankings, from as low as No.81 to her current ranking of world No.11. And she reached another milestone last night as a commanding 11-1, 11-6, 11-4 victory over Gilis saw her reach her first PSA final since the CIB PSA World Tour Finals, which was also in October 2020.
“It’s amazing to be back near the top 10, and I feel like I am playing well,” said El Tayeb following the match.
“I feel like I deserve to be there so it is nice. Today was a tough match, I knew coming up against Nele was going to be a tough one because she beat me a few months ago. I am glad that I played well and I was able to stay focused throughout the whole match.
“It is still the first tournament, we can’t look too far ahead because I have the final tomorrow, and I am playing a very good player. I am definitely excited to be in the final, I haven’t been in a final for a couple of years.”
El Tayeb will lock horns with No.1 seed Salma Hany in the PSA World Tour Bronze final after the world No.9 defeated fellow Egyptian Farida Mohamed 11-3, 11-8, 11-6 in 35 minutes.
It’s Hany’s third final in the past 12 months and the 26-year-old will now aim to capture her first PSA title since 2013. To do so, she will need to arrest a run of form which has seen her win just one of seven matches against El Tayeb, with her only win over her compatriot coming at the 2020 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions.
“I feel like I play Nour in every single tournament in Egypt,” Hany said.
“Obviously, I am very excited to be in a final with her. We go way back and I have always looked up to her. I am just really excited to come here again tomorrow and put on a great match.”
The men’s final will be contested by French No.2 seed Victor Crouin and Egyptian top seed Youssef Soliman after they beat No.4 seed Omar Mosaad and No.3 seed Raphael Kandra, respectively.
Crouin, the world No.18, will appear in his biggest PSA final following his 11-2, 7-11, 11-3, 11-6 victory over Mosaad, a former world No.3.
Crouin said: “I have been climbing the rankings slowly. I had a steady rise. I’ve won Challenger 5s, 10s and 20s, and then I won a Challenger 30 level event in June.
“So if I can win a Bronze then it means I have improved to the next level. That was my goal coming here, to win the title. It has been a hard week, coming through two five-gamers in the first two matches, but it was a little more comfortable today.”
Soliman put in an assured performance to beat Kandra in straight games and he too will attempt to win his biggest PSA tournament.
“For sure, I want to thank my new coach, he is here, so thank you for coming,” said Soliman.
“My brother as well, he has been with me forever, he has always been there for me. Thank you guys for coming, and we have one more push, let’s do it.”
The CIB Zed Squash Open finals take place today (August 28) at 18:45 local time (GMT+2) and all of the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV.
2022 CIB Zed Squash Open, Zed Club, Cairo, Egypt.
 Victor Crouin (FRA) bt  Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-1: 11-2, 7-11, 11-3, 11-6 (47m)
 Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt  Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-0: 11-3, 12-10, 11-2 (48m)
 Victor Crouin (FRA) v  Youssef Soliman (EGY)
 Salma Hany (EGY) bt  Farida Mohamed (EGY) 3-0: 11-3, 11-8, 11-6 (35m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt  Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-0: 11-1, 11-6, 11-4 (30m)
 Salma Hany (EGY) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour