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BLACK BALL OPEN FINAL: EL HAMMAMY BEATS EL SHERBINI TO WIN

Egypt’s World No.10 Hania El Hammamy is the 2020 CIB Black Ball Squash Open champion after she defeated four-time World Champion Nour El Sherbini in a thrilling five-game final in Cairo, Egypt to lift her first ever Platinum title.

El Hammamy and El Sherbini have met three times before with former World No.1 El Sherbini claiming comfortable victories each time. However, she came up against an entirely different prospect in the Black Ball Open final as 19-year-old El Hammamy showed how far she has come with a mature performance on one of squash’s biggest stages to hold off a resilient El Sherbini.

El Hammamy had already taken out three higher seeded players this week in France’s World No.3 Camille Serme, USA’s World No.8 Amanda Sobhy and England’s World No.7 Sarah-Jane Perry, and the Cairo-born teenager was able to take advantage of a slow start from El Sherbini to take the first game.

El Sherbini, who finished runner-up at this event last year to World No.1 Raneem El Welily, came back in typical fashion though as at 9-7 down in the second she showed the mental grit to put pressure on her teenage compatriot as El Hammamy hit three successive errors, looking as though she might have seen the finish line too early, before El Sherbini was able to draw level.

World No.10 El Hammamy rallied back though, showing she has all the attributes to be at the top of the women’s game, as she came from 9-7 down in the third to take a 2-1 lead in the match, before requesting a new ball at the end of the third.

The ball change looked as though it was going to work in El Sherbini’s favour as she took control of the fourth to draw back level once more and push the grand finale to a tense decider much to the delight of the full crowd inside the Black Ball Sporting Club.

Recent Windy City Open champion El Sherbini got her nose in front again in the fifth, storming to a 9-4 lead before El Hammamy once again displayed her determination to test the movement of the World No.4 and eventually get back on level terms before holding her own Championship ball, which El Sherbini saved.

It was then El Sherbini’s turn to take the title but she squandered her own Championship ball attempt, leaving El Hamammy to take control again and hold her nerve on her second try to win her first Platinum title on home soil.

“I’m out of words,” said El Hammamy afterwards.

“I’m living a fairy tale. This morning, I was just hoping to play a good match, not like in the World, after beating Camille where I just didn’t show up. I just wanted to enjoy my first ever Platinium Final, and hoping to look good on court, and prove to myself I’m not too far away from the top girls.

“I think I’ve played the toughest matches of my career this week. I’ve put in a lot of effort this week to win this title. I’m really proud of what I’ve done this week and hopefully I can keep going and keep making the same effort. I worked on my weaknesses, I improved my physical and squash game and I’m really pleased to be beating the top players now.

“I’ve played against Nour a few times and they were all straight-games. I kept learning from each match and playing against a four-time World Champion is not easy at all, she’s a fighter and a champion, I’m so happy to beat her today.

“My lucky charm, my grandma is here today, my cousin and my friends and I want to thank them all for being here today. My coach, Haitham Effat, I want to thank him for everything – all my coaches Fitness coach, Sami Farag and also Ahmed Abdel Khaled have done an incredible job with me and I’m really happy to have them here with my today.”

El Sherbini added afterwards: “Hania showed today how much of a fighter she is and how much of a good player.

“She’s now there and has won her first Platinum event. Of course, I’m disappointed to lose, but it’s been very tough for me, playing a lot of tournaments, so I’ll try to forget this one and move onto the next one.

“I’m happy to finish, what is hopefully not our last tournament of the season, in Egypt and in front of a home crowd.”

Result:
[9] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt [4] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-2: 11-6, 9-11, 12-10, 8-11, 13-11 (71m)

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