‘I’ve never beaten her, not in juniors or training, and I didn’t want to get my first win this way’
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
Egyptian duo Hania El Hammamy and Nour El Sherbini will line up in the final of the 2021 CIB Squash Open Black Ball following wins over World No.2 Nouran Gohar and England’s Georgina Kennedy at this PSA World Tour Gold event.
El Hammamy has claimed her first ever win over compatriot Gohar at the eighth attempt after Gohar was forced to retire from their match due to an ankle problem. The match was finely balanced after a thrilling opening two games which saw both players take a game apiece.
However, Gohar started to slow down in the third and, despite receiving treatment from the physio during the game break, was unable to continue the match, handing El Hammamy a place in the title decider.
“It’s always tough playing against Nouran and it’s not the way I wanted to get the first win against her,” El Hammamy said afterwards.
“I’ve never beaten her, not in juniors, not in training, not anywhere, to be honest. It’s not a great feeling to win this way and hopefully she recovers soon and we have many more tough matches.
“I was just focusing on my game plan and focusing on what I was doing. Today I felt really good on court and I didn’t want to lose my focus or lose my game plan at all. I don’t think I even noticed anything, but definitely something happened [to Nouran] and I didn’t see it.”
El Hammamy and El Sherbini met in the final of the Platinum tier Black Ball event back in 2020 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, with El Hammamy capturing her first major PSA title. The World No.4 reached the final of the Gold Black Ball event last December too, but squandered a 2-0 lead against England’s Sarah-Jane Perry.
Gohar’s defeat means that El Sherbini is guaranteed to start the New Year as the World No.1. She would have lost top spot had Gohar bettered El Sherbini’s results in Cairo this week.
The 26-year-old overcame surprise semi-finalist Kennedy, who was appearing in her first PSA Gold semi final, winning 11-7, 11-5, 11-3 to reach her fourth final at the Black Ball Sporting Club. It will be her second final in the Gold tier Black Ball event after she finished as runner-up to former World No.1 Raneem El Welily back in 2019.
“It was a tough match playing Gina for the first time,” El Sherbini said. “She has been playing amazing, she’s very fit and playing really good squash and I had to get my ‘A’ plan to play her. I knew how big an event this was for her and playing in the semi final is big, but I’m really happy with my performance and that I knew how to play against her.”
Women’s 2021 CIB Squash Open Black Ball, Cairo, Egypt.
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Georgina Kennedy (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-3 (26m)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 8-11, 11-4 retired (55m)
Final (December 16, 2021):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA