Egypt Batting 500
Badr Psyched by Chinappa
Egypt came out of the semi finals with one victory and one defeat. The victory came from a magnificent fight back by Raneem El Weleily to defeat the ever-moving Tenille Swartz, while the loss was due to Sara Badr falling apart under the psychological dominance that Joshna Chinappa holds over her.
MAINTAINS HER FORM
Badr never played with the same confidence she displayed yesterday in beating Charlie de Rycke while Chinappa played (again!) just well enough to win in three games. It was never scintillating squash with both players having a tendency to attempt to gain points by decision rather than by hitting the ball. There were too many occasions when they called for a let when the ball was hittable. Had the referee said ‘No Let’ early on, the players might have though twice about calling them and forced to actually hit the ball.
The first game was bitty and untidy, no rhythm and very few elite skills on display. Badr took the iniative to lead 3-2 and 5-3 but seemed slow going forward and failed on two pickups to start Chinappa’s come back to take the game 9-6.
The second game saw better squash with Badr starting to unleash her backhand bazooka. She holds the shot and then suddenly unleashes it as though the trigger has been pulled. It was too fast and too well cut for her opponent who lost four points on this wonderful piece of racket skill.
They were level at 3-3 but from that point it was always Chinappa who was going to lead, Badr never seeming to be totally comfortable.When Chinappa got to game ball at 8-3, Badr started to show some fight, pushing her opponent and herself and getting to within striking distance at 6-8.
On the third game ball Badr hit a loose volley and Chinappa stepped into to send it into the nick to win 9-6. It was a bad shot and not worthy of her standing. Badr had been 2-1 down against de Rycke and fought back to take the match. Could she do it again? The difference was that de Rycke got nervous and crumbled a little. Chinappa has a different mind-set and kept her usual composure (annoyingly appealing every decision against her, even the most obvious ones).
The third game was over in seven minutes with Badr completely mentally destroyed and hardly trying in the last three rallies to lose the game 9-2.
As I keep re-iterating, I am still be to impressed by Chinappa and look forward to the final when she meets the magical El Weleily, the 16 year old Egyptian number one (junior).
The second game was far better as Raneem started to wake up and make Swartz do a lot of running. When the Egyptian girl puts here mind to it, she can set up a ruthless rhythm of drops and drives and all Swartz could do was run the diagonals and wait for one of El Weleily’s drops to hit tin. But it was her boasts that got her into trouble.
El Weleily was leading 6-4 and looking good to tie the match when she hit two forhand boasts into the tin to help Swartz towards game ball. They then had two massive rallies with Weleily defining the term ‘court speed’ picking up some remarkable shots and moving Swartz around the court. It was world class stuff and worthy of a senior final never mind a junior semi-final.
But it was the incredibly determined Swartz (if they give an award for pure, gut-hard determination, Swartz would win by a mile) who won both the rallies to win the game 9-6.
Ahmed Taher, the Egyptian coach was very, very animated between games. I could read his lips or his arms, but whatever he said worked. He obvious told her to use the back corners more and not go for so many winners and she came back for the third game and played far more intelligently. Swartz was doing a lot of running and El Weleily was doing psychological damage by finishing the rally with a kill shot.
She makes it look so simply and I suppose, if you are Raneem El Weleily it is. Her drop drive routine was ruthless and by the time she had won the third game 9-5 the pattern for the rest of the match had been established.
Not that Swartz was finished; her South African altitude background has given her lungs twice the size of us lowlanders and she was still getting to almost everything. But the effort was beginning to tell, not in a slowing of movement but in tired racket work. They were level at 7-7 with El Weleily two points from defeat and Swartz two points from victory. But the tiny Egyptian girl showed true maturity, hit a beautiful backhand cross court cut shot in a westerly direction while Swarts was moving in an Easterly direction. Now facing game ball Swartz hit the serve into the tin and the match was tied.
El Weleily was now fully awake. After making an error on the second rally, she was faultless for the rest of the game. Swartz now had to earn every point and that was near impossible as El Weleily went into overdrive, her racket work a dream of precision and creativity. It was now Swartz who was boasting into the tin and the Egyptian girl was cutting the ball into the nick with élan. According to my watch the game was over in four minutes, 9-3 to El Weleily, a worthy victor and a comeback that says volumes about her character and commitment.
One very informed observer of the women’s game said that ten years ago he forecast that Raneem would go further than Omneya Abdel Kawy. He still thinks so.
JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPS
Chinappa (IND) bt Sara Badr (EGY) 9-6, 9-6, 9-2 (34mins)
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