Sister act brings down the curtain on glorious week in KL for Egypt
By ALEX WAN – Squash Mad Malaysian Correspondent in KL (August 23, 2014) Pictures by KNG ZHENG GUAN
Raneem El Weleily yesterday described Nour El Tayeb as her sister. Today, it showed when the pair embraced each other at the end of their five-setter match, to close the curtain on the 2014 CIMB Malaysian Open.
One could actually sense the respect Tayeb has for Weleily, from the way the pair behaved in court. It is something so exemplary, that perhaps some of the boys in Namibia should learn from. It made the referees work very easy; no complaints, no protests, in fact, nothing at all to question.
The match started with both players finding their ranges cautiously. They both share the same coach back home, so they know each other all too well. Weleily may be ranked much higher than Tayeb, but the latter had only beaten Weleily last June in Cleveland.
The first game went point for point and the girls were tied at 5-a piece. Tayeb then inched ahead from hereon, and from a mishit off the frame of her racket to take her to 8-7, it was next a stroke in favour to her to go to 9-7. She won the last two points deservingly to go one up against the person she looked up to as a junior.
The start of the second provided some fireworks as Nour El Tayeb won the first rally off a diving volley. It sent the crowd into a frenzy! Weleily seem to have found her game now, as she sent Tayeb scrambling all over the court in this game.
The first few rallies seem to have taken Tayeb’s reserves out, as from 3-3, Weleily raced ahead to close to game 11-3.
Weleily came back in the third exactly where she left off, racing to a 5-0 lead in no time. Then, we saw destructive Weleily come back as she lost the next five rallies in similar fashion. It was déjà vu in the next few rallies, Weleily taking three straight points only to lose them back in quick succession.
At 8-9 down, Tayeb ended a long rally with an outstretched drive that had her sprawling to the ground, but there was nothing Weleily could do as it just died in the back. The crowd was amazed by what they saw and they showed appreciation for it.
The fourth game was one way traffic, as Weleily was never in it. It was 5-0 first and then 7-2. After that, Tayeb strung four points in a row to force the decider, much to the delight of the crowd. The final game was just brutal to watch.
Tayeb had been sent to all corners by her big sister. Just when you think she doesn’t have any more steam in her, she somehow manages to retrieve another one.
It was close, never more than two points apart. At one point Tayeb even played a shot between her legs, which got the crowd going.
There could not be a better finish. Tayeb sent sprawling in the front backhand corner while Weleily drops her racket and raises her arms in triump.
She then walks over to her little sister and they embrace each other with such respect. This has been one of the best women’s squash matches I’ve witnessed.
Tayeb, still gasping for air, told the crowd, “I think I played well. I gave everything I had. Raneem is like a big sister to me, so if I were to lose, it’s good that it’s her I lose to.”
Weleily, on the other hand, paid tribute to Tayeb, saying, “She’s definitely on a roll. We have the same coach, we know each other’s game so well.”
Earlier, in the men’s final, Mohamed El Shorbagy gave Egypt a good start when he beat Max Lee of Hong Kong in convincing fashion.
It was clearly a match too far for Max, whom I was told was tired by his coach Faheem Khan before the match, no thanks to the previous two rounds, where he spent a total of 131 minutes on court compared to Shorbagy’s 78 minutes.
Shorbagy earned his first point via a trilogy of boasts. He had Lee going all corners of the court with his hold and delay style of play. Lee kept up with Shorbagy up till 3-3, before the Egyptian pulled away to 7-4. From thereon, the gap was never closed as Shorbagy wrong footed Lee to take the first game 11-6.
The second game was somewhat similar. There wasn’t much Lee could do except retrieve whatever Shorbagy threw at him, which he did most of the time. It was painful watching him being sent the wrong direction over and over, but Lee hung in there, kept the scores close right up to 5-5.
After that, the Egyptian had injected some pace and slowly pulled away, from 7-5, then 9-9 and eventually closing out the game at 11-7.
The first rally of the third proved to be a firecracker. It was fast and intense, which Lee eventually won. Lee seem to have caught up with Shorbagy’s game now, as they were point for point. At 3-2, there was a disputed pickup which Shorbagy thought was down and it led on to some on court blabbering between the pair, which Lee did not appreciate.
That must’ve fired up Shorbagy as the next two rallies were fast and furious, both going the Egyptian’s way. The rallies that followed were not much different and it had Max Lee breathless in mid game. But nevertheless, the man from Hong Kong pushed and matched Shorbagy.
It was a close third game. Shorbagy bagged it 11-9 to take the title, but it was a spirited display by Max Lee that had won him many new fans today. Shorbagy said in a post-match interview later that it’s been such a journey for him and he’s happy to finally win it.
He also congratulated Max for such a great tournament, that everything fell in place for him.
Shorbagy saved the best for last when he said, “I’ll come back for sure next year. I’m not happy (with the floor), but as a professional, you learn to deal with these things”.
CIMB Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, Finals:
(1) Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egypt) beat (6) Max Lee (Hong Kong) 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 (34 mins)
(3) Raneem El Weleily (Egypt) beat Nour El Tayeb (Egypt) 11-7, 3-11, 12-10, 2-11, 11-7 (40 mins)
Pictures by Kng Zheng Guan