Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-1  Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 11-8, 11-4, 10-12, 11-8 (76m)
Nour El Tayeb produced arguably her finest performance since returning to the tour to down World No.3 Hania El Hammamy in a Cairo derby and set up a semi-final against defending World Champion Nour El Sherbini.
El Tayeb trailed for much of the first game, relying on savvy counterattacking play to keep within reach of the 21-year-old, before capitalising on a number of errors from El Hammamy to take an 11-8 win from the first game.
The 2019 runner up dominated the second game against a nervy El Hammamy and took a commanding two-game lead with an impressive 11-4 win.
Inevitably, El Hammamy struck back hard in the third game. Despite continuing to struggle to time some of her shots, the World No.3 battled furiously to rescue the match, attacking at will and refusing to give up on any ball as she took the third game 12-10.
Unfortunately for El Hammamy, this merely seemed to bring out the best in El Tayeb, who after giving birth last summer to her daughter Farida, looks to be the same deadly player of old.
The 29-year-old had an answer for everything El Hammamy could throw at her in the fourth game, combining excellent defence with crowd-pleasing attack to seal a huge victor with an 11-8 win.
Let’s look back a bit. When Hania played against CatWoman in October 2020, she was the new kid on the block. Down 2/0 she clawed back to ending up wining the match, 11/3 in the 5th in 81m match! I don’t think Nour ever forgot it. And it’s with probably delight that she took her revenge back in March at CIBOpen @Blackball against the Gazelle, third round, 11/9 in the 4th. All the pressure was on Hania then…
So what about today? I thought that actually, Hania was very relaxed when she started. Perfect drives and height, she seems to dictate most of the rallies, 3/0, 4/4, then 6/4, 7/5. Then from that point on, her shots were ending in the middle of the court a bit too often, and it was Nour in front, finding superb attacks and taking the time away from her opponent. 9/7 for Catwoman, 11/8 in 12m.
An incredible display from Farida’s mum, 5/&, 6/2, 8/3 11/4. Still 13m, as Nour pushed the Gazelle around again and again, starting to put a heck of a lot of work in Hania’s legs.
The third is superb. Nour with the momentum, 2/0, 3/1. But Hania is working so hard to retrieve her opponent sublime attacks, relentless, reading her crosscourt like an open book. Still Hania is hungry for that semi. And hangs in there: 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6. 8/6 and 9/7 for Nour, but Hania, tenacious, will manage to get two game balls from 9/9: 10/9, finally clinching the 29m – I kid you not – third game, 12/10.
The fourth, good start for Nour,3/0, but Hania knows by experience she can break back. And level we are, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6. Hania is paying all that work, and she tries to breathe between points as much as possible. The Gazelle nearly comes back , 8/9, but the energy, the flair, the panache today is on Nour’s side, and it’s 11/8, in 15m.
As PSA tweeted a few months ago when Nour beat Hania in BlackBall: “Nour El Tayeb. That’s it. That’s the tweet.”
“First of all, playing at this venue, with this crowd is so exciting. It’s the World Championships, wow it’s exciting! I pictured myself winning this event so many times, but to actually be in the semis after such matches, is for me an incredible achievement!
“Where can I start with this match? It’s been very tough with Hania. I was up 2-0 against Hania before and lost, so I know how it feels to be 2-0 up and lose. I took a lot from Paul Coll’s match yesterday, who was 2-0 up and then managed to win in the end.
“I’m very happy, I can’t believe it, I think in the fourth game I let loose a little bit and stopped thinking about how much I wanted to win this and maybe just play. It just worked in the end and I’m very happy.
“I know there are all types of disruptions, like untying your shoelace and then tying it again, I’ve grown up with these tricks. Thankfully, I don’t like to use them, but it gives me confidence that I’m putting her under pressure and she has to find a way to win and get me out of my focus. Thankfully it didn’t work, I’m 29 and one of the older ones on tour. Maybe it’s the experience in the end.
“I’m just in the semis and obviously it’s great, the top three girls are very strong and I just beat one of them and hopefully there are two of them left. I’m counting on my family and friends to come and cheer me on tomorrow. The crowd was great, I could hear them cheering during the point, I could hear ‘Come on, come on!’ which was great, obviously, but I would love it if it was just in between rallies!
“It’s exciting, tomorrow, it’s me and Nour and the crowd is going to cheer ‘Come on Nour!’ which doesn’t matter so I’m excited for the semis for sure!”