Friday, July 12, 2024

World Tour Finals 2023: Nouran Gohar and Mostafa Asal battle to history

The longest ever recorded women’s match on the PSA World Tour was witnessed in Cairo on Sunday, as Egypt’s Nouran Gohar beat compatriot Hania El Hammamy to the season-ending title.
Gohar and Mostafa Asal were victorious on finals day at the CIB PSA World Tour Finals, with the pair both making history in their own way. The final two matches of the season were far from clean and had a mountain of stoppages, including a blood injury when the frame of El Hammamy’s racket caught Gohar’s mouth.
Gohar secured her second CIB PSA World Tour Finals crown, after winning the event back in 2020-2021. She defeated World No.3 and bitter rival El Hammamy in a record-breaking contest, which lasted for 130 minutes.
The match eclipsed the previous record – held by Mexico’s Samantha Teran and USA’s Latasha Khan in the 2008 Liberty Bell Open – by 10 minutes.
Matches between Gohar and El Hammamy now account for three of the top 10 after a 107-minute epic at the El Gouna International and a 105-minute battle at the PSA World Championships, all within the past two months.
The opening game of this contest went to sudden death, with the World No.3 holding the early advantage as she took it 11-10. The pair then shared the next two games, with El Hammamy in the lead again after three.
However, ‘the Terminator’ would not be denied her second CIB PSA World Tour Finals crown. She won the fourth game comfortably, before the fifth game went on for almost 45 minutes. On several occasions on match ball, Gohar thought she had got the job done, celebrating windy, albeit prematurely, as the video referee to give a ‘Yes Let’. In the end, though, she managed to secure the victory, winning 12-10 in the fifth after a monumental 130 minutes of action.

“It was so hard out there,” said Gohar. “All credit to Hania, she always gives it a fight and if it wasn’t her, I don’t think we could play a match like this. A big match requires two big players and two fighters and she is one.”
In the men’s final, World No.4 Asal became only the second man after Peter Nicol in 1999, 2000 and 2001 to win three CIB PSA World Tour Finals trophies on the bounce after he took out top seed Diego Elias by an 9-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-5 scoreline.

It was a scrappy match which gave the referees plenty to do, with a number of decisions throughout. Elias had succumbed to Asal in their Group A clash earlier this week, in what was also a match played out under controversial circumstances.
The final was no different, and it was the ‘Peruvian Puma’ who took the opening game as he looked to become the first South American to get his hands on the prestigious trophy. But he cut an increasingly frustrated figure as the match wore on, with Asal eventually grinding out the win in four games to secure his 12th PSA title and his fourth of the season.
“It is unreal [matching Peter Nicol’s achievement],” said Asal. “I couldn’t talk straight away after. It was tough today. Diego is a fantastic player and it was tough in all the situations today. He is one of the best players in the world.
“After the ban, it was so tough for me, I am proud of everyone who has my back!”
Result – Men’s Final: 2022-2023 CIB PSA World Tour Finals
[4] Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt [1] Diego Elias (PER) 3-1: 9-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-5 (81m)
Result – Women’s Final: 2022-2023 CIB PSA World Tour Finals
[1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [3] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-2: 10-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-6, 12-10 (130m)

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