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Raneem El Welily is looking to win back-to-back El Gouna titles

El Gouna International - Finals: As It Happens

The finals of the El Gouna International take place this evening, with the trophies on offer for the PSA World Tour Platinum event.

The action gets underway at 19:30 local time (GMT+2), with the women’s final taking place first, ahead of the men’s final.

Join us here for reports and reaction, or watch the glass court action LIVE on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) or the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour (Indian subcontinent only).

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(All times local GMT+2)

World No.1 Raneem El Welily takes on Nouran Gohar in the women’s El Gouna final this evening.

The pair have met 13 times on the PSA World Tour, with the reigning champion having won 10 of those. The last time Gohar beat Welily in a best-of-five was back in 2016, at the China Open.

Welily has only dropped a single game throughout the tournament, as she beat No.5 seed Joelle King in the quarter finals. She has also beaten eight-time World Champion Nicol David and US No.1 Amanda Sobhy on her way to the final, taking just 27 minutes to dispatch the American in her semi final last night.

Gohar, on the other hand, needed 46 minutes to defeat World No.4 Camille Serme in the last four. That came a day after she knocked out current World Champion Nour El Sherbini in five games.

If Gohar gets her backhand firing, then she could make it tough for the World No.1, but Welily will go in as the favourite.

Current World Champion Ali Farag and 2016 World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad will face off in the men’s final in Gouna.

The pair have a tied record on the PSA World Tour, having both won seven of their previous 14 encounters. Their last meeting came in the final of the Black Ball Open in December, in which Gawad got the better of the World No.1.

The ‘Baby Faced Assassin” is renowned for his slow starts, and he produced another last night against Fares Dessouky. However, he was able to come back to take the victory over the wildcard, ranked at World No.42, to book his spot in tonight’s final.

Farag needed all five games, and a tie-break at the end to overcome World No.3 Tarek Momen in a rematch of the World Championship final. Momen had taken a two game lead, but Farag fought back to advance.

Both players are averaging around an hour on court for each match, so expect this to go long. If Gawad starts well, he could cause huge problems for Mr Fantastic.

El Welily Beats Gohar to Defend El Gouna Title

Raneem El Welily (right) in action against Nouran Gohar (left)

World No.1 Raneem El Welily has successfully defended her El Gouna International title after overcoming fellow Egyptian Nouran Gohar to lift her third successive PSA Tour trophy.

El Welily beat World No.2 Nour El Sherbini in last year’s final, and was up against the woman who ended El Sherbini’s run in this tournament at the quarter-final stage.

The 30-year-old had beaten fellow Wadi Degla member Gohar in 10 of their previous 13 PSA Tour meetings and took the opening game, despite being under immense pressure from her hard-hitting opponent.

Gohar, nine years El Welily’s junior, struck back in the second as El Welily went walkabout mentally and surrendered a 5-2 lead to lose 9 of the next 11 points.

A blood injury sustained by Gohar after a collision between the two players halted momentum temporarily at the beginning of the third, and El Welily continued to look off the pace as Gohar took control to go 6-2 up after a number of errors from the world’s highest ranked female player.

The momentum then shifted in El Welily’s favour as she came back to take it 12-10 on the tie-break, and their battle continued into the fourth. Gohar, sporting heavy strapping on her left knee, required an injury break after a lunge into the front corner to send El Welily 8-6 up.

The World No.7 returned to court, but it was clear that she was having to protect the knee as she lacked the same explosivity in her movement, and El Welily closed out the win to earn the 22nd PSA Tour title of her career.

“I think that the blood injury break turned me down a little bit, so I'm glad I managed to come back after being 6-2 down [in the third],” El Welily said afterwards.

“It's definitely hard pushing pushing yourself this way, but when you're in a final of such a great tournament, you do your best to stay in, and you do your best to win. That's what I was thinking at that point.

“I definitely love being here, the crowd has been amazing, knowing that we have a full house is incredible.

“All thanks to [Tournament Promoter] Amr Mansi and his entire for putting on such a great event. It's always special here in El Gouna, We always love being here, and I think I speak for the players when I say we really enjoy being here.

“Not just for the organisation, but also for the good weather, the great crowd, and there's nothing better than playing in front of your home crowd.”

[1] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt [8] Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 7-11, 12-10, 11-6 (61m)

Farag Captures Maiden El Gouna Title

Ali Farag

Egypt’s Ali Farag ensured that both World No.1s took the honours on finals day as he followed up Raneem El Welily’s victory with a 3-0 win over World No.6 Karim Abdel Gawad – avenging his defeat to the former World Champion in December’s Black Ball Open.

That win for Gawad was his only one in their last six meetings on the PSA Tour and the former World No.1 – a runner-up in 2017 – was unable to prevent Farag from taking a second successive PSA Tour title.

Farag, who turned 27 this week, finished runner-up to compatriot Marwan ElShorbagy 12 months ago, but he built on a strong start to win 11-9, 12-10 11-3, picking up his 17th PSA Tour title in the process.

Gawad had his opportunities, leading 9-7 in the first game and 6-2 in the second, but Farag came back both times to take a two-game lead.

An ankle injury suffered by Gawad in the second prevented him from really getting his teeth into the third, and Farag made no mistake to etch his name onto the trophy and win his first PSA Tour title on home soil since February 2015.

“I’ve played Karim in so many great finals in Egypt,” said Farag, who celebrates his seventh title of the season.

“It was really a shame what happened at the end of the second and in the third. I’m sure if he was better physically, it would have been a totally different story. I think he had an amazing week, he’s playing well this season, and it’s great to have him on tour.

“Now that Ramy has retired, he’s the most skilful person on tour.

“This season has been amazing for me, I couldn’t have asked for a better one. I might have won a lot of big titles, like the World Championships and claiming that No.1 spot at the ToC, but this one is a very special one as I’m sharing it in front of my people.

“This one goes out to my parents, the two people that have been with me every since I was born.”

[1] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [4] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 12-10, 11-3 (46m)

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