R1 : ElTayeb/Farida, Alex/Anna

Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-1 Farida Mohamed (EGY)  11-3, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5 (31m)

Blimey. What a first round. For both girls. That match was THE MATCH they all were happy NOT to have to play. Because you are a semi finalist of the worlds against one of the most dangerous coming up players on there!

To be honest, Farida, with her right hamstring strapped, didn’t play her best squash, from far. The first game, not in the match at all, rallies of 3, 4 shots max, lots of unforced errors, and having a row in Arabic with the young Mayar ElSerty – sister of – who was referring the match. Basically, the ref kept giving Bazooka Farida no let because in her opinion, she was going to the player and not the ball, while Farida just thought Nour was in her line. 5/0, 11/3

She gets a bit more in the second, but at 4/3, Farida goes for the right front corner, but slips with a scream of pain, holding her hamstring. The physio is on the court right away, 3 min self inflicted injury time, we fear the worse.. But she is back on court, and fights hard, bowing 11/8 in 10m (-3m).

The third is about Nour probably relaxing just a fraction and that’s enough for Farida to get confident in her hard (extra hard) hitting and deep game. It works and in 6m, she is back 1/2 down, 11/7.

But a good tight start from Catwoman in that last game, 3/0, 6/2, and Farida stringing unforced errors, probably trying to preserve her leg and going for too much too quickly.  6m last game, 11/5.

Nour

Mentally, I was trying to prepare myself for a non-structured kind of game, because she doesn’t play with structure. Sometimes when she gets in a round of points, it’s not easy to get back into the game and play my game.

At the moment, she is not playing at her best at the moment, a few errors here and there, and that played an important role, as in the second and third at times I was under a lot of pressure.

But I’ve seen doing that a few times with SJ (Perry) and Joelle (King) so I know how dangerous she can be.

I’m very happy with the way I played, especially as it’s my first round against an incredible player.. I was trying to get pumped and even if I lost the third game, I told myself that it was a good preparation for tomorrow.

Last time, I was in the same situation, and I didn’t deal well with the following tournament. But this time I knew what I was getting into. I am starting very early in the event, which is not something I’m used to. I take it as an advantage to play more matches, as I know that’s what I need, getting my match fitness back.

Also having Ali to be able to speak to made a big difference, as we have nearly the same feeling, although when you win it’s a bit different if you finish the tournament losing. Having Ali around, we can talk things round, I talked a lot to him yesterday about how I’m feeling towards this event and how to cope with the last one, and that led me to a much better mindset than previously.

Alexandra Fuller (RSA) bt Anna Serme (CZE)  11-4, 11-8, 11-0 (21m)

If Anne Serme is not at her best for a few months, suffering from a recurrent tennis elbow, she was steady and found some lovely deceptions, pushing Alex in the second game to make a few too many uncharacteristic errors. But the South African found her game in the third, and closed it in 3.

Alex

It all came together in the third. Maybe in the second, I was trying to finish the points too soon, I am tempting a little too much as I was up, and throughout the whole game, I was just trying to relax. Just trying to hit through the ball, keeping my length, a bit of lack of focus to be honest.

For a few months now, it’s a totally different game as my squash is getting better, and I am probably putting pressure on myself really, which is unnecessary.

I was just trying to play with freedom and use the pressure like a positive and not negative.

I am playing Georgina Kennedy, we played in the London Open back at the end of last year. It was a tough match, she is a really good athlete, a good runner, and she picks up a lot so, it will be a battle, no matter what…