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Manchester Open: El Tayeb Conquers Serme To Win Title

Egypt’s World No.4 Nour El Tayeb is the women’s Manchester Open champion after downing World No.3, and top seed, Camille Serme, in the final, after fighting from a game down to win in four.

The pair had met 12 times on the PSA World Tour before, with the Egyptian holding a slender 7-5 advantage over ‘La Panthere’. She had also won the only final that the duo had contested, which had come over a decade ago in Serme’s home town of Creteil.

However, it was the European No.1 that came flying out of the traps, winning the first game in just six minutes, her fastes of the entire event. The Frenchwoman hit all of her targets with incredible precision, and won the first 11-3.

However, from that point on, it looked like the extra 100 minutes on court got to Serme, as she seemed to be that bit slower to the ball. El Tayeb capitalised, and took a crucial second game to level the match, playing with more power and accuracy.

Some early errors from the Frenchwoman in the third game gave the ‘Black Widow’ the early lead, one she wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the match. She pushed further up the court to take control, and ran out a comfortable winner in the end, taking the fourth 11-3 to seal a 3-1 victory.

“It has been a while since we played anything, obviously, but it is nice to win five matches in a row. I haven’t done that in so long so it is very nice to do it in the first tournament back. It is definitely a nice confidence booster for the rest of the season,” she explained.

“It was very tough. She caught me by surprise at the beginning even though I knew she was going to play fast. I didn’t expect it to be that quick and that fiery from the beginning. I think I could count on one hand the amount of drop shots I played and whenever I tried to take it short, I wasn’t getting it in. I had to resort to Plan C or D to keep it at the back. I tried to win in a more boring way, like Ali [Farag, El Tayeb’s husband] does. I didn’t have to play nice shots, or shots to the front. He wins so many tournaments without taking to the ball to the front, and this is what I was trying to tell myself.

“I knew she had a tough match last night so I knew it would be in her legs. I was feeling tired because I was not used to playing like that. With her match yesterday in her legs, I was able to just get that points difference and win each game like that.

“I think it has been a process for the last year and a half. As I said, and I didn’t mean it, talking about Ali and his game is boring, but it doesn’t have to be flashy all the time. I always used to compare my game to Nour El Sherbini. I wanted to play like her, but I had to accept some time that I am not like her. I am not going to go for crazy shots or crazy winners, eleven shots in a game. I had to accept that and I am still learning to accept it, but sometimes I have to just dig in. Today was not my best performance squash-wise but I am proud of maturing a little bit, and I feel very good about today!”

Serme said: “To be honest, I don’t think I could have done much better with the weapons that I had. I didn’t have much in the tank and I was a bit short at the end,” Serme admitted.

“She is really tough. She picked up so many balls and it felt tougher than yesterday. She picks them up differently to how Hania [El Hammamy] does. She just makes it hard to play. You keep trying on the left, the right, the front, I just didn’t know what to do in the end and I kept hitting the tin.

“All credit to her, she did better today. I am, obviously disappointed now, but I am sure I will be happy with this result in a few days.

“I felt good before the match, I thought I was ready. The first game was a bit too easy but then she started getting into the game. She made the rallies harder and that is when I felt the legs were a bit heavy. The extra time on court must have paid in the end. I told my fitness coach that I felt good, but maybe we need to work on that last match.

“I am looking forward to have a couple of days at home. I already have the appointments with the physio so I can try to recover. I can spend some time with my husband and family so I can recover mentally and then hopefully back and ready to go next week.”

[2] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [1] Camille Serme (FRA) 3-1: 3-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-3 (46m)

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