Egypt’s World No.6 Hania El Hammamy won the latest battle in her enthralling rivalry with Frenchwoman Camille Serme to reach the semi-finals of the CIB Egyptian Open in front of the iconic Great Pyramid of Giza.
El Hammamy claimed a landmark win over the World No.3 when she came from two games down to beat Serme at the Pyramids in their quarter-final battle at the CIB PSA Women’s World Championship 12 months ago.
El Hammamy had beaten Serme in three of their last five matches – including that Worlds quarter-final – and prevailed by a 9-11, 17-15, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8 scoreline after 91 gripping minutes, which is the longest women’s match since the restart.
“It’s a shocking number,” said El Hammamy, referring to the length of the match.
“It’s always tough against Camille. One year ago, on this court, in front of the Pyramids, that’s when I first started to beat Camille and it’s special today as well. It’s never easy to come up every tournament and show this performance and to play five games against her.
“Today, I’m just happy that I managed to keep pushing myself until the last point. I think everyone can see that I was relieved when Camille put the last shot in the tin, I didn’t even celebrate, I just wanted to get off court and recover.
“I’m glad I have a rest day tomorrow so I can be well-prepared for the semis.”
31-year-old Serme came back from 9-7 down to take an opening game that saw a break of eight minutes delay proceedings following the first rally because of a slippery court due to dust on the court floor.
However, she wasn’t able to convert any of her four game balls in the second, with some loose shots at crucial moments enabling El Hammamy to take it 17-15. The third game also went the way of the young Egyptian as she took all the pace away from Serme to take a 2-1 advantage.
With a 5-2 lead in hand in the fourth. El Hammamy looked on course to close out the win in three, but a sudden flurry of errors handed Serme a lifeline and the older player made no mistake to level the scores.
In the decider, Serme put El Hammamy under relentless pressure but El Hammamy’s retrieving skills were immaculate and her ability to keep the rallies going time and time again resulted in errors from Serme as she tried to put the ball away at the front of the court.
And Serme ultimately succumbed to exhaustion as a tired volley into the tin sealed her fate, with El Hammamy progressing to the semi-finals, where she will take on either World No.1 Nouran Gohar or Belgium’s Nele Gilis.
Serme said: “Sorry to be a bit sharp, but I’m up to here playing her, and I’m sure she feels the same. She is the woman of the moment, and it seems I’m the one who has to stop her all the time.
“Could somebody try as well please? Tactically, I’m happy, sometimes I was not exactly on target, and I was paying the price for it. Also, she gave me a few more free points, which she doesn’t do normally and that got me back in the match. But I just lacked a bit of energy at the end.”
How on earth has
HaniaaElHammamy</a> been able to stay in this rally, and then go on to win it after 85 minutes of intense play? Just how?!<br><br>WOW <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SquashIsBack?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SquashIsBack</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SquashByThePyramids?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SquashByThePyramids</a> <a href="https://t.co/LmAPQ0hYGN">pic.twitter.com/LmAPQ0hYGN</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) October 14, 2020
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Camille Serme (FRA) 3-2: 9-11, 17-15, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8 (91m)