File photo of Nouran Gohar
Egypt's squash promising talent Nouran Gohar is bracing for an anticipated showdown with compatriot and world number one Raneem El-Welily in the semi-final of the PSA Women's World Championship.
Both women meet on Thursday at a venue overlooking the Giza Pyramids, with Gohar eyeing an upset against the 2017 world champion.
"El-Welily is one of the strongest squash players in the world. I will try to play well," Gohar, 22, told Ahram Online in an interview.
"Competing against fellow Egyptians are more difficult than competing against any other rivals. Audiences are split into two -- 50 percent 'for' and 50 percent 'against'.
"In real life, we are close friends and love each other. Athletes have to distinguish between friendship and rivalry in the court. We trained most of the time with each other. Each player knows the playing style of the other, so we have to change it a little bit."
Gohar secured her place in the semis after beating England's world No. 7 Sarah-Jane Perry 3-1 in the quarters on Tuesday (3-1, 9-11, 11-8, 13-11, 12-10.)
"It was very tough match. The last two games were so difficult. My family, coaches and Egyptian crowd were a big support for me. I would like to thank them all," she said.
"I am so happy to reach the semifinal even though it is not my best performance. I will recover today and get ready for semi final match on Thursday."
This is the second time for Gohar to play in front of the Giza Pyramids; the first was in the 2016 World Championship but she was defeated in her first match at a four-walled court.
"I was totally upset that I could not play in a glass-court. I feel so proud that this time I played several matches in front the Pyramids. It is such great honor for me."
Gohar had qualified for the PSA World Tour Finals in the women's event after winning the U.S Squash Open title earlier this month. Egypt will host the PSA World Tour finals in Cairo from 26-29 June, 2020.
"It was the first platinum event for the 2019/2020 season. I was two games down and lost the match ball. I was very close to defeat but I kept fighting," she said.
Gohar said she hoped squash would turn into an Olympic sport soon.
"I can't find any reasons that squash is not an Olympic sport. It's a dream for any athlete to participate in the Olympics," she stated.
Gohar's favorite squash players are Malaysian legend Nicol David and Egyptian Amr Shabana.
"David has always been my idol. She was on top of the ranking for nine years."
Gohar, who started her career at the age of 15, has been practicing professional squash for 10 years.
She won her first tour title at the Prague Open in 2013 when she was only 16 years. She also snatched the Irish Open title in 2014 and beat star Omneya Abdel-Kawi in the finalof the Monte Carlo Classic in the same year. She then became among the top 20 in the world rankings for the first time.
Gohar has been in the top 10 of the world rankings for four years now. She will become World No.2 in next month's rankings.
This year, Gohar has been impressive, winning the Hong Kong Open, U.S Open and British Open.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)