Sherbini Sets a Date with Nicol in the Finals

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Nour El Sherbini again defied the seedings to become the youngest ever British Open finalist. The sixteen-year-old triumphed over national teammate Raneem El Weleily in four games, with some relentless retrieval and impressive attacking. The first game could have been a different story all together as there was nothing separating the pair until the teen edged ahead in the tie-break. 

The No5 seed hit back well in the second, controlling the tee more and volleying well to pressurise the younger player. Sherbini refused to be intimidated however, and the world no15 hit back with an explosive third game which lasted just four minutes, to retake the lead. 

With Jenny Duncalf and Madeline Perry already out of the competition, and Laura Massaro due to play top seed Nicol David later in the day, a win for Weleily could have seen the Egyptian jump to No2 in next month’s WSA World Rankings, ending Duncalf’s 3-year run in second place. But Sherbini showed no concern for the rankings as she continued to play like an experienced tour regular rather than a player who is still working through full-time education. Both players were deadlocked at 9-all with Sherbini playing her 19th game of the competition, but it was Weleily who made two unforced errors to continue the younger player’s remarkable World Series run. 

An exhausted Sherbini said after the match: “There was so much pressure in this match. But I just had to relax and and try to play own game.  I managed to do that on court and my game worked well. Now I’ll just try to believe that I’ve really won, and get ready for the final.” 

The one player between Sherbini and a complete World Series upset is world No1 Nicol David, who made efficient work of dispatching remaining home interest Laura Massaro. David started quickly, keen to settle and establish a rhythm after the previous day’s first game loss. The scores were close early on, but the Malaysian’s excellent retrieval and consistent length helped her establish a lead over Massaro in the first game, that the Englishwoman was unable to claw back. 

Ever under pressure, some loose play around the middle from Massaro, continually left her susceptible to David’s attacks.  Massaro got stuck in well, taking her opportunities early on, and again the scores were close until the top seed’s consistently steady length and retrieval of even the most pressured Massaro attacks, saw a breakdown in resistance towards end the second game. 

The Englishwoman seemed to gain some momentum as the crowd grew more vocal, but it was too little, too late though as David upped the pace to take the game. The crowd could do nothing to lift Massaro, and the third was to be the shortest game of the contest as David dominated proceedings from then on, closing out the win and very much looking for WSA World Tour title number 61. 

Nicol told the crowd afterwards: “I think I played brilliantly today. I was feeding off the crowd, and hearing them really fired me up to take Laura on.  I stayed focussed throughout and I knew that Laura would take advantage if I didn’t. 

“I think I played better in each game but Laura was maybe a bit tired today, though she never stops. It’s amazing to see Nour in the final. It’s a special event and she’s done very well.”


Final:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) v [16] Nour El Sherbini (EGY)

Semi-final results:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [3] Laura Massaro (ENG) 11-5, 11-8, 11-4 (39m)
[16] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [5] Raneem El Weleily (EGY) 14-12, 7-11, 11-4, 11-9 (40m)

Events

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