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BritOpen Update: El Sherbini Captures Maiden Crown

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Egyptian World No.5 Nour El Sherbini has become the first ever Egyptian Allam British Open champion after defeating World Junior Champion and compatriot Nouran Gohar 3-2 in the World Series tournament taking place in Hull’s Airco Arena – ensuring she will go up to number two in the world in next month’s rankings.

The lead changed hands multiple times throughout the 75-minute encounter with both players trading points with gusto in a tightly-contested and highly-charged battle. El Sherbini eased to the opening game before 18-year-old Gohar, playing with a maturity that belied her youth, fought back to go a game ahead and put herself within touching distance of the famous crown. But El Sherbini came back at her and showcased the credentials that has seen her surge to the upper echelons of the Women’s game, taking the match 11-7, 9-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8 to become the tournament’s second youngest winner at just 20 years of age after New Zealand’s Susan Devoy in 1984.

“It was a really tough match,” said El Sherbini

“Nouran is just 18 and she brought out all of the squash I had today. I really had to do all I could to win, it was really close. The last two points were really hard, I’m speechless.

“I’m really proud to be representing Egypt anywhere so to be the first Egyptian to win the British Open is a huge thing for me. I’m really proud to be one of the four finalists today. I’m really happy that Egypt is proud of me and I want to keep making them proud.

“When I was growing up looking at all the top players, I never thought I would be one of them.”

The opening game saw both players make a nervy start to the match, with the referee being called in to action on a number of times after a succession of lets and strokes but El Sherbini soon pulled away to open up a one-game lead.

The squash improved in the second and was a lot more free-flowing, before reverting back to its scrappy nature in the third. Gohar, playing in her first World Series final, took both games to claim the lead for the first time in the fixture.

El Sherbini was indomitable in the fourth and took her frustrations with some of the decisions out on the ball as she powered a number of vicious shots into the front of the court to level the scores. The final game saw El Sherbini establish a lead at 6-3, only to see Gohar come flying back at her with her trademark powerful hitting. The tie remained delicately poised as it creeped to it’s culmination, with the drama refusing to let up as Gohar required attention on a knee injury. She eventually made it back on court but hit the ball out on championship ball to hand El Sherbini a historic victory.

“It has been a great tournament and a great match today against Nour,” an emotional Gohar said.

“I’m very sad and disappointed of course. I was so close to winning this match but it is my first final and I didn’t have the experience to close the game out. She played fantastic squash, she was the better player today, so congratulations Nour.”

Result – Final: Women’s Allam British Open 2016
[4] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [8] Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-2: 11-7, 9-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8 (75m)

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