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Nouran Gohar celebrates after fighting back from the brink against compatriot Farida Mohamed

CIB Black Ball Open: Gohar Survives Five-Game Thriller

World No.2 Nouran Gohar almost lost her place in the CIB Black Ball Squash Open draw, but was able to save multiple match balls before finally overcoming compatriot Farida Mohamed in a deciding game in Cairo.

The pair had never met on the PSA World Tour prior to this clash, and it looked like it would go the way of the 18-year-old, who had the memories of knocking out New Zealand No.1 Joelle King on the same court back in March.

Mohamed took a two-game lead in quick time, winning both of the opening games in just eight minutes, as the rapid pace of the match continued throughout the opening salvo, with plenty of quick rallies.

After showing some of her skills in the latter stages of the second game, Gohar came out firing in typical ‘Terminator’ style at the start of the third, and ran out a comfortable 11-5 winner to stay in the match. She was then able to nick the fourth 11-8 after a game which became very stop-start due to several refereeing decisions and reviews, but she kept her cool to force a decider.

The final game of this first round clash had a little bit of everything, from decisions, to winners of serve, to lengthy rallies. The 18-year-old, ranked at World No.35, started brilliantly, and won the first six points to be in complete control of affairs.

However, the former World No.1 came fighting back, and was level at 8-8 as she got back into the rhythm of her ferocious line hitting. Mohamed had her chances as the game went into a tie-break, with Gohar saving two match balls. However, she was unable to put the match away, with the 18-year-old also saving three match balls, before the ‘Terminator’ eventually got over the line, winning the final game 16-14 to book her place in the second round.

“It wasn’t easy at all. I give it all. Sometimes you are not playing your best but I am very proud of the way I held myself today. Being World No.2 is not easy at all but you have to earn this place by showing character before playing good squash, and I am glad I did this today and I proved that I can hold myself even when I am not playing my best,” Gohar said.

“Farida, I think that is the first time we have been on court together after practising yesterday. She surprised me with her killing shots. Usually I am the one who does that but she took me by surprise and I just had to adapt, which I don’t have to do a lot. It was new and it was not very enjoyable, but I will take it!”

[2] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Farida Mohamed (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-8, 16-14 (57m)

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