Fayrouz Aboelkheir (EGY) 2-0  Melissa Alves (FRA) 11-9, 15-13 (33m)
She’s done it.
First time ever on the glasscourt in Nantes, never met Melissa before.
Am I suprised by the result? No. Why? Because one, I know the pressure that the French players get when playing in France as they have so few opportunities – remember Thierry Lincou losing to Borja Golan in the French Open a few years ago….
And on the reverse, Fayrouz didn’t have any. No pressure, all the confidence that comes from being one of the 3 best players in the Junior World, and from being 16…
13m of hard work in the first game, Fayrouz just her nose in front, couple of points, only to be caught out at 8/8. At 9/8 Melissa, two strokes, overuled (rightly in my opinion) by the video ref… 9/9.
And so Fayrouz scores the next 2 points, a no let against Melissa, confirmed by the video ref, and the situation just became complicated for the French lady. 11/9 for the Egyptian, 8 winners, but 7 for Melissa. Good quality game.
The second game is nailbitting for the French camp on my right – Fayrouz having no one in her corner. 5/5, 6/6, 7/7. Melissa seems to find her rhythm, excellent balance between attacking and defence, 9/7. The crowd goes wild.
But soon, the Egyptian calms the enthusiasm of the supporters as she levels, 9/9. Melissa, game ball, 10/9, saved. Match ball Fayrouz, saved, 12/12.
Melissa will have another chance at 13/12, an error ends that one, and a stroke will concretise the second and last match ball, 15/13, 19m game.
French crowd, very fair, applauds the winner, but their heart is broken with the early exit of the French number one.
The maturity this young lady shown tonight could be summarised in her own words… “It’s always about the passion inside and the hard work”.
“I am so happy. The court is a bit bouncy but I like it! All credit to Melissa, she is a top player and no-one can deny that. Being on court with here was a pleasure for me.
“Winning in front of this crowd.. Before the match, I was a bit worried, obviously being so loud and being against the French No.1, it was really tensing and all credit to her. I am happy with the way I played and I am happy to now be playing Nour Aboulmakarim, we are good mates in Egypt. I am glad to be in the quarters!
“I started playing squash when I was 4 years ago. My mum would go to work and leave me there, I was like any other child, seeing a ball and racket, I wanted to play!
“It has been my dream to be in such big tournaments, and all credit to my coaches and family, they are the main reason I am here now. It is not about the quantity, but the quality of coaches and the people you have around you. It is always by watching the top players. Nicol David, Camille Serme, I watched the top players and it is always about the passion inside and the hard work !