By RJ Mitchell
Hania El Hammamy has revealed her determination to reclaim the CIB PSA World Tour Finals title and end the season on a major high.
El Hammamy claimed the recent El Gouna international title in the most dramatic fashion possible to come from two games down to beat World No.1 Nouran Gohar after 90-minutes of see-sawing action, which also saw the 21-year-old sustain a knee injury, to claim her third PSA World Tour Platinum title.
Now, the Cairo-born ace is determined to claim the third major of a hugely impressive campaign after losing last year’s final in a taught four-game tussle with Gohar and has promised to give it 100% in the process to reclaim a title she won for the first time in 2020.
The World No.3 will start her campaign against fellow Egyptian Rowan Elaraby in a Group B clash tonight with World Champion Nour El Sherbini and England’s Sarah-Jane Perry completing the pool’s quartet.
Now as she prepares for a gruelling campaign’s finale it is clear that the British Open champion will take to the court at Cairo’s spectacular Mall of Arabia with a no fear attitude:
“Although I have won in El Gouna I definitely want to win the World Tour Finals for a second time and to finish the season by winning the final tournament would be special,” said El Hammamy.
“For me winning two major titles this season has been massive and to be honest I still can’t get over winning the British Open. It would be amazing for me to win two titles back-to-back and this is one of the next steps that I want to achieve. I did win the Black Ball in 2020 and then the World Tour Finals and although these were back-to-back there was a big gap between them due to lockdown so this would be very different and a real motivation.
El Hammamy with the El Gouna International trophy
“It’s the final tournament of the season and you just have to give it your all and give it 100% and you know that then after it is the off season and you will have time off to relax and you can go to the beach and do a lot of fun things.”
While her Allam British Open and El Gouna International triumphs have provided huge peaks to an eye-catching campaign, a quarter-final loss to Nour El Tayeb at the PSA World Championships was, the impressively candid El Hammamy admits, a body blow.
“My main goal was the World Championships and obviously I was disappointed that I did not do as well as I expected. I was definitely down but there is one thing I know and that is any time I am down, I know how to bounce back, to show what I have inside of me and I just try to enjoy it more when I am down,” the World No.3 explained.
“So that was the key actually and to be honest, El Gouna was huge for me, even if it wasn’t as big as the British Open and also to beat both the World No.1 and the World No.2 in the same tournament was something I had not done before so that was really pleasing.
“Every time I have beaten both of them it has not been like this before and this is exactly what I have to be able to do if I want to reach the World No.1 spot. So it was a big win for me.”
While the early stages of the World Tour Finals are best of three encounters, El Hammamy’s come from behind victory over a stunned Gohar at El Gouna was another instance of her renowned fighting spirit, which was also evident in her 2020 World Tour Finals victory when the British Open champion came from two games down to beat Nour El Tayeb.
El Hammamy after winning the CIB PSA World Tour Finals in 2020
Reflecting on her never say die attitude El Hammamy said: “It is a matter of belief and I know that I can dig very deep and that it will be very hard for someone to make me give up and I feel that is not possible to do. I focus on myself and I knew that I had not done anything against Nouran in the first two games that meant I deserved to win them.
“So I knew that to win I had to change something and I knew that I was capable of that. Physically I feel like I am very good and I can always go farther and fight until the very end.
“Previously I did it in Chicago against Nicol David and at the World Tour Finals against Nour El Tayeb and I did it in front of the Pyramids when I was 2-0 down against Camille Serme, so it was just a matter of believing I could do it on this day in the final of El Gouna against Nouran [Gohar].
“But I have also been on the other side when SJ [Perry] beat me from 2-0 down in a Black Ball final and that was something I had in mind but I didn’t need it as inspiration as I had experience, like I said, of doing this myself on a few occasions.”
El Hammamy will also face off against World Champion Nour El Sherbini with their group encounter scheduled for Thursday evening and her respect for The Warrior Princess shines through
“Nour is now a six-times World Champion and my admiration for her has increased with every time she has won another World Champs,” the 21-year-old said.
“I also admire Nour as a person and I know how incredible she is and the game she is playing is very tough and I have watched her as a kid and now to be sharing a court with her is very special.
“When I first played against her, I lost 3-0 in like 20 minutes but as I admired her so much I watched her a lot and step by step I learned from that and started to get closer to Nour and now I am very proud that I have managed to beat her.”
But there was another rival that El Hammamy was keen to pay a glowing tribute towards and that was Nour El Tayeb who, although she did not make the World Tour Finals, has returned to the top 20 in the women’s rankings, and whose comeback from childbirth is arguably the story of the season.
“I was a bit down when Nour left the PSA World Tour to have her baby and that was because I missed her so much and now she is back on tour it is great. I was also disappointed when she had the losses when she first started back but now she is like even better than she was before she stopped,” El Hammamy admitted.
“She is beating me and I am not happy about that but seriously it is just so good to have Nour back and playing better than ever and just good for squash and what she has achieved from coming back from giving birth, well no one will understand what that must have taken.
“I know how hard it was for her to get back and the struggles she has had to do so and I am just really very proud of what she has achieved to return to this level in such a short period of time.”