All-Gilis Climax In Singapore Is Sisters' Maiden Gold Final
18 Nov 2023
The sisters last met in the final of the Open de France in Nantes at the start of last season, with Nele coming through in straight games to lift the title. Nele was first to book her place in the Singapore final after a five-game win over No.2 seed Georgina Kennedy, the England No.1. The No.3 seed found herself trailing Kennedy 2/1 after the Englishwoman played the more positive squash in the second and third games, finding several winners at the front of the court.
Gilis opted to change the ball for the beginning of the fourth game, making the squash more attritional, which worked wonders for the Belgian. Both players are renowned for their physicality but it was Gilis who was able to utilise this better as she started to squeeze errors out of Kennedy, who was struggling to find the targets that she had done in the previous games. The Belgian No.1 took the final two games 11-4, 11-3 to secure her first Gold event final spot.
Nele will now meet sister Tinne in the final after the younger Gilis sister overcame former world No.5 Sarah-Jane Perry in four games to reach the biggest final of her career.
Tinne came through a brutal 71-minute clash with USA's Sabrina Sobhy in the quarter finals, but showed no signs of fatigue as she came out at a frantic pace to test the physical capabilities of Perry and gain control of the match. She did this perfectly in the opening two games, pouncing on any loose balls that the No.8 seed presented to force her back in the court before administering the killer blow.
Perry was determined to not go down without a fight and battled hard to stay in the match after losing the opening two games. The England No.2 started to find her flair in the front corners and stifled the momentum of Gilis, who was looking to win in three games. Despite Perry securing the third game to force a fourth, the No.4 seed responded strongly and showed her mental resilience to close out the game 11-8 to set up the sibling final.
"At the end of the game, literally every loose shot I played, she played the perfect shot," said Tinne Gilis after her win.
"I couldn't even be frustrated because there was just no way I could pick it up and I just needed to keep it out of the middle and I got a bit lucky with a few unforced errors. I tried to dig deep and fight for every point and make the rallies as long as possible.
"My Mum already woke up at 5-6am this morning to watch Nele's [Gilis] match so I'm sure she's very happy and proud. I'm happy and proud of Nele managing to reach the final. It's going to be a sister battle tomorrow so let's see. What happens, happens, I'm going to be ready and up for a fight."
Farag booked his final place after a masterful performance against England's Marwan ElShorbagy saw him win in straight games for only the third time against the world No.8. Farag started slowly in the opening game but didn't take long to find his rhythm in the match. The world No.1 started to drag ElShorbagy into all four corners, eating into the No.6 seed physically. The resistance started to fade from ElShorbagy as the match went on with Farag storming through to a straight games win.
Asal started the better of the two and stormed out to an 9-2 lead in the opening game, firing winners into the front corners at a frantic pace, not giving Elias any opportunity to show his skill. The No.3 seed took the opener 11-4.
From here, Elias started to find his way back into the match, hitting stronger and deeper lengths to get in front of the Egyptian and show his accuracy at the front. Elias emphatically equalised by winning 11-5 in game two and continued to dominate the exchanges in the third game with Asal finding the tin more often that he would like.
After earning a 2/1 lead, Elias trailed for the majority of the fourth game and the match looked sure to be heading into a fifth game for a sixth time between the two. The No.2 seed looked determined to secure the win in four games and after stepping up the court to increase the pace, found severe winners in the front left to earn three match balls, converting on his second attempt.
"I feel pretty good. I played good squash. I didn't start very well, but then I found my game, and I'm just very happy with the way I played.
"I've been feeling good the whole week really. I'm very excited to be in another final here, and hopefully I can win. Tomorrow is my birthday so that would be a pretty good present.
"Thanks everyone for coming. It's always a great atmosphere here. All the players love it here."