World No.2 Nouran Gohar has collected her first CIB Black Ball title and her fourth consecutive Platinum trophy, though her recollection of tonight’s triumph will no doubt be bittersweet, following the mid-final retirement of World No.1 Nour El Sherbini due to injury.
Ahead of tonight’s match, much had been made of the intense but amicable rivalry between the two, with Gohar set to replace El Sherbini as World No.1 in next month’s rankings.
With little to choose between the two ahead of tonight’s match, both players had reasons to be confident. 24-year-old Gohar had gone into the match looking to continue a magnificent run that had seen her win 23 of her prior 24 matches, while 26-year-old El Sherbini would have taken confidence from her 19-5 head-to-head record against the Cairo native.
An absolute mammoth of a first game here in the CIB
BlackBallSquash</a> final <br><br>At 15-15, this one is anyone's for the taking!<a href="https://twitter.com/noursherbini?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">noursherbini
NouranGohar</a> <a href="https://t.co/SLWjzsTMV7">pic.twitter.com/SLWjzsTMV7</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) March 17, 2022
Fans were treated to a barnstorming first game in which El Sherbini initially seized the momentum, finding openings from nowhere on the way to a 10-6 lead. Facing the daunting task of saving four game balls, Gohar went on the attack, moving up the court to bring her brutal power to bear.
To the delight of Gohar’s fans, this proved effective, with ‘the Terminator’ picking off each game ball before flipping the match’s momentum with a 17-15 win.
As El Sherbini saw her lead dwindle and then evaporate in the opener, it quickly became obvious that something was troubling her, with her movement becoming increasingly laboured as Gohar wrapped up the first game, and the 26-year-old received physio treatment on her hip immediately after leaving the court.
In the second game, despite the best efforts of El Sherbini, it was obvious that she was struggling to move, with Gohar continuously able to punish her in the corners on the way to an 11-8 win.
After receiving post-game physio treatment once more, El Sherbini initially attempted to return to the court for the third game. That game, however, lasted only seconds, with El Sherbini forced to call a premature end to what had at one stage looked to be one of the matches of the season.
“I’m definitely not happy with the way it ended. Having a rivalry with
noursherbini</a> is something I’m really proud to have. I .......