Sunday September 16, 2012
Raneem reins in Nicol
By KNG ZHENG GUAN
KUALA LUMPUR: It was a Momen-tous love story as Raneem El Weleily, inspired by her boyfriend Tarek Momen’s success in the men’s event, produced an amazing effort to stun home favourite Nicol David in the women’s final of the CIMB Malaysian Open squash championships at The Curve, Mutiara Damansara.
After Egypt’s Momen had beaten close friend and compatriot Mohamed El Shorbagy 12-10, 6-11, 12-10, 8-11, 14-12, world No. 2 Weleily came out firing on all cylinders to deny top seed Nicol her eighth consecutive Malaysian Open crown with a 12-10, 11-13, 11-6, 11-2 win in 36 minutes.
The 23-year-old Alexandria native stormed to a 10-6 lead before Nicol fought back to level at 10-10 in the first set.
But two amazing dropshots by the powerful Egyptian shot-maker saw her take the set 12-10.
The second was just as thrilling as both players fought neck-and-neck but this time Nicol had an extra spring to her game to nick the nail-biting set 13-11.
But it was downhill all the way after that for the Malaysian, who simply couldn’t get a foothold on the match as Weleily made her run in circles.
With Nicol two sets down and trailing 10-2 in the fourth, the crowd became quiet.
Weleily then went on to seal her first-ever career win over the six-time world champion with a powerful cross court volley.
It was only her fifth Women’s Squash Association (WSA) Tour title – and her first in a tournament that Nicol has competed in.
“I’m really happy with the win ... it’s probably one of my biggest titles.
“I was feeling the pressure in the semi-finals but I had no pressure against Nicol and that made the difference,” said a delighted Weleily.
“I didn’t make as many errors as I usually do against Nicol and I was controlling the ball well ... not thinking too much about the outcome.
“In the semi-finals, I was really nervous playing (Low) Wee Wern, but this time it was the reverse, which explains my better performance.”
Weleily also admitted that Momen’s win over Shorbagy had spurred her on to equal his feat.
“We have been together for almost a year now and it’s amazing for both of us to win,” gushed Weleily.
“Watching him play made me want to do even better and it’s great because this is the first time we have won at the same professional tournament.”
A dejected Nicol admitted that she was far from her best.
“Raneem did not make any errors and everything she hit just went in,” said Nicol.
“I was struggling with my length and depth and you can’t afford that against a player of Raneem’s calibre.
“The result is really disappointing as I know I could have done better and I’m really sorry to let the fantastic crowd down.”
The Penangite will now return to Amsterdam to continue working on her game before competing in the Carol Weymuller Open in New York (Sept 25-30) and the US Open in Philadelphia (Oct 4-12).
MEN: Tarek Momen (Egy) bt Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) 12-10, 6-11, 12-10, 8-11, 14-12.
WOMEN: Raneem El Weleily (Egy) bt Nicol David (Mas) 12-10, 11-13, 11-6,11-2.
Momen’s sweetest moment