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Raneem El Welily

World Tour Finals - Finals: As It Happens

The CIB PSA World Tour Finals men’s and women’s final take place today as two new players write their name on the trophies in Cairo, Egypt.

Join us here for reports and reaction, or watch LIVE on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) or the PSA World Tour Facebook page (excluding Europe & Japan).

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Up first is Egypt’s World No.1 Raneem El Welily against France’s World No.3 Camille Serme at 19:30 local time (UTC+2).

Both players have never got their hands on the PSA World Tour Finals trophy and will be looking to write their name in the history books of the tournament tonight.

The two players have met 19 times in their careers, with El Welily winning 16 of those and Serme claiming three victories. The Frenchwoman’s last victory came at the PSA World Series Finals in 2017 in Dubai.

World No.1 El Welily has enjoyed a formidable season reaching the final of every tournament apart from three and will be looking to end the season on a high with victory on home turf in Cairo.

Serme, on the other hand, has enjoyed a consistent season. The Frenchwoman began the season with a final appearance against El Welily at the China Squash Open and has since gone on to feature in the British Open final and has a string of semi and quarter final appearances.

They are followed on court by the men’s final which will see an all-Egyptian battle between Mohamed Abouelghar and Karim Abdel Gawad.

The two players have faced each other 12 times in their PSA careers, with Gawad taking seven wins to Abouelghar's five.

World No.7 Abouelghar has taken the last three victories, however, including earlier this week in the group stages of the event in Cairo.

Gawad has already won once in Cairo this season when he lifted the Black Ball Squash Open title. Meanwhile, Abouelghar started the season with a bang when he claimed his biggest title to date at the China Squash Open.

This will be Abouelghar's first appearance in a major final, while Gawad is no stranger to the big stage after winning the coveted PSA World Championships and other major titles in his career.

El Welily Wins First World Tour Finals Title

Egypt’s World No.1 Raneem El Welily claimed her maiden PSA World Tour Finals title after she came from 2-0 down against France’s World No.3 Camille Serme to win in five in the final held at Cairo’s Mall of Arabia.

The two players have been in formidable form throughout the week and the final, which reverted to the traditional best-of-five format, proved to be no different as the two players put on an epic show for the crowd.

El Welily and Serme started their season meeting in the first final of 2018/19 at the China Squash Open and so it was only fitting that they finished their season once again going head-to-head, this time in Cairo.

It was a nervous start from El Welily as Serme eased into a 5-0 lead before El Welily got her first point on the board. The French player was on fire as she was able to power ahead, getting everything right tactically to expose the nervous movement of the Egyptian, to take the first game, 11-3.

The tables turned in the second game as El Welily ensured she came out of the blocks firing in contrast to the first game to take a 4-0 lead. However, Serme came back strongly from a 5-1 deficit in a much more competitive second game to double her lead.

The World No.1 truly hit her stride in the third, much to the delight of the packed out crowd in Cairo, as she could be seen roaring to get herself fired up and was able to lay the foundations to get back into the match as she took the third.

El Welily continued to break up the movement of Serme in the fourth, forcing the Frenchwoman into deep lunges all over the court to draw level and push the match to deciding fifth game.

The Egyptian then showed her mental toughness as she started to pick off a tired-looking Serme in the fifth game, with the French player still doing her best to overcome the World No.1 but it was not enough as El Welily completed her comeback to cap off an incredible season with another title as she won 3-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 in 61 minutes.

“I just gave it everything I had [after the second game],” said 30-year-old El Welily afterwards.

“It means a lot, thank you so much to everyone today. I really couldn’t have done it without the crowd’s support, they can me the push that I needed, so thank you to them.

“Camille played really well today, she pushed me to the limit and she was just on fire the first two games. It took a lot of effort and mental strength to push myself and come back from what she did. The game plan she had today was crazy good and I salute her for a great season, she has had an incredible season and so close to winning some things but not quite there, but I’m sure she will come back stronger next season and I told her that after the match.

“All day long I was struggling with the idea of maybe having to play three games or even five, but when I was 2-0 down I thought it was best of five for a reason. I just fought and tried to run as much as I can and get everything back to stay in the rally as long as possible. Maybe focus a little bit more and calm down whenever needed and those words in between games really helped.”

[1] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt [4] Camille Serme (FRA) 3-2: 3-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 (61m)

Gawad Sees Off Abouelghar to Take Title

Egypt’s former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad became the latest player to write his name on the PSA World Tour Finals men’s trophy after he held off a comeback from World No.7 Mohamed Abouelghar to defeat his compatriot in the final.

Gawad and Abouelghar had met 12 times on the PSA Tour previously, with Gawad winning seven of those. However, Abouelghar had won the last three meetings, including earlier this week during the group stages in Cairo when he recorded a 2-0 win over Gawad, and the drama went all the way to the last moment as the two Egyptians battled it out in Cairo.

Cairo-born Abouelghar proved he was a contender for the major titles after he pushed Gawad after coming from 2-0 down. However, it was the former World No.1 who was able to close out to claim his third title of the season after winning the Pakistan Open and Black Ball Open at the end of last year.

Gawad, who got married a week today, started well before Abouelghar, who was playing in his first major final, recovered to hold game ball which Gawad duly saved before converting his own to take a one-game lead.

Gawad continued to twist and turn Abouelghar into all areas of the court with his array of shots to double his lead in the second and put himself in a strong position to take home the title.

But Abouelghar proved that it wasn’t over after the former World No.1 and World Champion seemed to lose his focus in a crucial third game with 25-year-old Abouelghar building up a comfortable lead before the ‘Bullet’ bit back to take the game.

Momentum stuck with the younger Egyptian in the fourth as Abouelghar was able to force the errors from Gawad, with the former World No.1 giving away a lot of strokes to allow Abouelghar a way back in as he drew level.

Gawad’s quality shone through in the fifth, however, as he raised his level to force Abouelghar into the back corners of the court. But the 25-year-old was not done yet as he once again showed his determination to fight back and save two Championship balls, but it was not enough as Gawad eventually converted on the third attempt to take a 12-10, 11-6, 5-11, 8-11, 12-10 win in 92 minutes.

“If I knew this would happen then I would have got married six or seven years ago!” said Gawad afterwards.

“Abouelghar was one of my groomsmen and he gave me a hard time on court, so hard luck to him he played some amazing squash. I’m really happy to win a World Tour Finals and really happy with this title.

“Playing Abouelghar is always tough, we have played a few times and they are always tough battles, five setters and four setters minimum. Entering this tournament, I wasn’t expecting too much, so I was very relaxed playing and trying to enjoy it as much as I can. Today, I felt the pressure of playing the final, I have played the World No.1 and World No.2 so playing the final I felt the pressure. I tried to relax as much as I could and tried to focus on my squash and I’m glad it worked.”

[4] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt [8] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 3-2: 12-10, 11-6, 5-11, 8-11, 12-10 (92m)

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