El Hammamy reaches final after huge comeback
El Hammamy celebrates win
World No.1 Nour El Sherbini and No.3 seed Hania El Hammamy opened semi-final day at the Windy City Open 2022. With powerful, aggressive hitting from the outset, it was El Sherbini who struck first taking the first game 11-5 in nine minutes.
A competitive second game saw several momentum shifts between the two Egyptians with both players bringing great intensity to their attacks. El Sherbini saved three El Hammamy game balls to take the crucial game 17-15.
El Hammamy responded remarkably, stepping up the court and volleying to great effect, earning herself 10 game balls as she almost captured a rare ‘bagel’ against the ‘Warrior Princess’. El Hammamy did secure the third game eventually, 11-5.
The momentum continued for El Hammamy in the fourth game. Twisting and turning her older opponent and forcing El Sherbini into some uncharacteristic errors. Winning a nine-minute game 11-6, El Hammamy set up a fifth and final game.
After an edgy start from both players in the fifth game, it was El Hammamy who took the game by the scruff of the neck, winning 11-5 to take her place in tomorrow night’s final.
“I have no words to explain how happy I am with today’s win,” said El Hammamy after the match.
“I’ve beaten Nour twice before but I think today is a little more special. Being 2-0 down is amazing to be able to win in five. She’s been world No.1 for 17 months and been a World Champion and she needs no introduction. Her confidence and stamina are so hard to break and to win that after being 2-0 down means a lot to me.
“I said in the second game, even if I lose it I have to start the third in a different way, in the first two I wasn’t playing the way I wanted. I had to relax and take a breath every point and try to think more clearly then I started to feel very confident.
“I’m looking forward to taking another step forward, another goal for me is to win back to back titles. I’ve won two world series events in my life and they weren’t back to back so I need to be more consistent.”
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-2: 5-11, 15-17, 11-5, 11-6, 11-5 (66m)
Ibrahim battles past ElShorbagy to reach first Platinum final
Another all-Egyptian clash was next onto court as giant killer Youssef Ibrahim squared off against No.6 seed Marwan ElShorbagy for a place in the final.
A blistering start from the younger Egyptian caught Marwan ElShorbagy slightly flat-footed in the opening game, as Ibrahim drew first blood 11-5.
ElShorbagy responded in the second game and used his experience to narrow the angles of Ibrahim and use his ball control to level the match at 1-1.
An extremely feisty third game was filled with decisions and controversy. With both players trying so hard to get ahead in a crucial third game, emotions spilt over as discussions with the referee continued to happen. After ElShorbagy earned himself a game ball, after a previous conduct warning, Ibrahim was handed a conduct stroke for racket abuse which gave ElShorbagy a 2-1 lead.
Ibrahim battled back in the fourth game and pulled ahead after several outbursts from ElShorbagy distracted the elder Egyptian. Ibrahim kept his composure to take the game 11-1 and set up an exciting fifth and final game.
The mental resilience from Ibrahim was apparent in the final game as the young Egyptian started perfectly, firing off incredible winners and forcing ElShorbagy into some tough movements. The confidence from Ibrahim continued to flow as he booked a place in his first Platinum final winning 11-0 in the final game.
Ibrahim has this to say after the match:
“I expected the match to have a lot of mind games involved. The last time we played the same thing happened and I unintentionally get dragged into his game and he’s the best at playing that type of game so I have to give this to him. I’m happy that I dealt with it, after the third game I lost and I had to keep the rallies going, playing tight and high because anything in the middle he takes too much space. I’m happy that when I stayed on court after the third to get my mind right I was able to deal with it today.
“It means a lot, I had a text from him (Ibrahim’s coach) asking if I had a pass and I couldn’t be happier, it’s great to share this moment with Mostafa, he’s been helping me a lot in Princeton. We’re close friends, I talk to him about everything, Sean and Neil as well and everyone watching back in Princeton, to win today with him watching me means a lot.
“I didn’t expect to make it this far, I actually have midterms this week and I’m trying to get an extension, reaching the final means a lot but I hope I don’t fail midterms in my final year. But there’s no pressure. Paul just became World No.1 and Tarek is one of the best in the world so I’m just going to enjoy and have one more push tomorrow.”
Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) bt  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 11-5, 6-11, 9-11, 11-1, 11-0 (56m)
Gohar storms past King
Nouran Gohar beats Joelle King
In the final women’s semi-final of the day, World No.2 Nouran Gohar confidently despatched New Zealand’s Joelle King in just 32 minutes to secure her place in the final.
Gohar controlled the match from the outset, keeping King pinned in the back of the court and not allowing the tall New Zealander any attacking opportunities. Gohar took the opening two games 11-5, 11-4 to place one foot in yet another Platinum event final.
The end came quickly for King as the pressure from Gohar was relentless. The Egyptian showed exactly why she is a former World No.1 and closed the game out 11-3 in just 11 minutes.
Gohar has set up an exciting final match up with compatriot Hania El Hammamy.
Here’s what the World No.2 had to say about her victory:
“I’m very happy with it, having a 3-0 match before the final definitely helps to prepare for that as it’s the most important match of the tournament. I train really hard for these kinds of matches and I’m very happy with my performance today, Joelle is such a good player and I’m so happy I won in three and can go to bed early tonight.
“My husband is my lucky charm, he’s made my life so east here, I didn’t feel a lot of changes, I’m very comfortable with the atmosphere and thankfully I have Rod (Martin) next to me, we live right next to the club where we train so that helps. I’m still in contact with my coaches in Egypt. The timing was really good as there was a lot of tournament in the US in January and February so it made it a lot easier. So I’m really happy with my new life and being married.
“Last time, Hania beat me, it’s always tough playing her you can never take her for granted, even if you win a few times in a row, she’s definitely one of the best players right now and I’m really looking forward to that match, we always get the best out of each other and I think it’s going to be a match for the crowd will enjoy tomorrow for sure.”
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 3-0: 11-5, 11-4, 11-3 (32m)
New World No.1, Coll, battles past Momen
Newly crowned World No.1 Paul Coll and former World Champion Tarek Momen closed out the evening’s play at the University Club of Chicago.
A closely contested first game was won by Coll 12-10 in 23 minutes. Great accuracy by Coll forced several errors from the racket of Momen in the early stages and just when it seemed the momentum was with the Egyptian, Coll steadied the ship the draw first blood.
Coll dropped his first game of the tournament in the second game as Momen found his length which set up several opportunities to take a quality ball in short. Momen equalised with an 11-8 game win.
With the score level at 6-6 in the third game, it was Coll who managed to step in front of Momen, constructing tough rallies for Momen to be on the end of and ran away with the game, winning 11-7 to lead by two games to one.
Momen responded however and used his trademark backhand drop to great effect, twisting and turning Coll throughout the game and took full advantage of an early lead to set up a fifth game.
An exciting fifth game displayed the fighting spirit of both players. Neither willing to give an inch in the early stages. Coll managed to open up a 9-5 lead in the crucial final game and closed it out 11-5 and booked his place in tomorrow’s final.
“Tough one out there. Tarek was playing really well and not missing any shots and he’s a nightmare when he’s like that,” admitted Coll.
‘I’m very happy I contained him, I came out strong in the fifth, very happy with how I responded and glad I brought it home. I’m really excited for tomorrow and another final here in Chicago and I’m looking to win this one.
“It’s a new challenge for me and I’m enjoying it, it’s something I can improve on in myself and I’m really enjoying the challenge. It’s a big week for me with a lot of pressure and I’ve loved every minute of it and I’m learning as a player and I think I’m growing, loving this week and looking forward to tomorrow.
“He’s extremely talented, I’m super happy for him. He’s had some amazing wins this week and into his first final, I’m sure he’ll enjoy it, he’s a dangerous player and amazing with the racket so I’ve got to be hitting the ball well, finding my lines, containing him but I’m happy for him to be into his first final, he’s done amazing this week so well done to him already.”
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt  Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-2: 12-10, 8-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-5 (89m)