Monday, April 15, 2024

Nouran Gohar beats Nour El Sherbini to win third U.S. Open title in a row

By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)

Nouran Gohar has become only the second player after the legendary Nicol David to win three U.S. Open titles in a row after she retained her title courtesy of an 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6 final victory over Nour El Sherbini in Philadelphia.

The 25-year-old Gohar had already defeated Egyptian opposition when she won the 2019 and 2021 U.S. Opens, beating Nour El Tayeb and Hania El Hammamy, and she added El Sherbini to that list to capture her 19th PSA title.

El Sherbini is now a four-time runner-up at this tournament after final appearances in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

Gohar, now based in America and training with her Australian coach Rodney Martin, said: “It’s so hard against Nour. She is the one who knows how to win titles even if she’s not playing her best. It’s more mental than anything with her and I was really happy with the way I played.

“It’s a joy to play against her. I actually missed our battles last year because it brings the best out of us both. She’s a great player and it was very enjoyable out there.”

Gohar began strongly and used her trademark power hitting to pin El Sherbini deep in the back corners before finding winners at the front of the court.

The defending champion led 9-3 and closed out the game 11-7 despite El Sherbini finding some form at the end to put some points on the board.

The 2022 U.S. Open champions Nouran Gohar and Diego Elias

El Sherbini used this momentum to move in front of Gohar in the second game. She utilised her backhand drop to both win outright points with it and draw Gohar in to cover the shot before hitting the ball deep into the empty space.

El Sherbini won the second 11-9 but Gohar stuck to her game plan and changed tactics slightly, taking the ball in short more than she usually does to test the movement of the world champion. This worked well as space at the back of the court was opening up for Gohar to expose the movement.

The No.1 seed moved through the gears to take the final two games 11-7, 11-6 and seal the victory in 51 minutes.

Gohar added: “Honestly, I don’t want to lose my No.1 spot under any circumstances, but when I think about the rankings too much, it’s extra pressure that I don’t need.

“I feel like I go into a tournament wanting to win because then I know I will get the maximum points, so I’m just focused on what’s in my hands and that’s all I think about.”

The U.S. Open is Gohar’s second title of the season following last month’s South Western Women’s Open triumph in Houston, and her sixth of 2022.

Gohar has chosen to miss next week’s Grasshopper Cup in Zurich, where El Sherbini and El Hammamy are the top two seeds.

Diego Elias is first Peruvian to win U.S. Open men’s title after Ali Farag injury shock

PSA Platinum 2022 U.S. Open, Arlen Specter National Squash Center, Philadelphia, USA.

Women’s Final:
[1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6 (51m)

Men’s Final:
[4] Diego Elias (PER) bt [1] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-0: 2-0 retired (2m)

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour 


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