Nele and Ali are the Champions !!

Nele Gilis and Ali Farag are the 2023 VITAGEN Singapore Squash Open Champions after two thrilling finals at the ODBC Arena …

VITAGEN Singapore Squash Open 2023 : Day SIX, FINALS

[3] Nele Gilis (Bel) 3-2 [4] Tinne Gilis (Bel) 11-6, 12-10, 8-11, 5-11, 11-4 (82m)

[1] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-1 [2] Diego Elias (Per)   6-11, 11-4, 14-12, 11-8 (78m)

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Nele wins thriller against Tinne

[3] Nele Gilis (Bel) 3-2 [4] Tinne Gilis (Bel) 11-6, 12-10, 8-11, 5-11, 11-4 (82m)

Nele Gilis is the 2023 VITAGEN Singapore Squash Open champion after defeating sister Tinne Gilis in a dramatic five-game battle that lasted 82 minutes.

Both sisters were competing in their first Gold event finals, and a second World Tour final after Nele won the encounter at the Open de France back in September 2022.

Nele started the better of the two as she got to work on pinning Tinne in the back two corners early in the match and making sure her sister was as far back in the court as possible before sending the ball short. Nele was relying on Tinne attacking first and then counter attacking her younger sister to make her question her tactics. This worked well as Tinne looked to be getting increasingly frustrated with proceedings as she lost the opening two games 11-6, 12-10.

Despite looking physically tired at the end of the second game, Tinne returned to the court with a fighting spirit, determined to give a better account of herself and get stuck into the match. She threw caution to the wind as she started to fire the ball into the front corners with great accuracy and rattles off winner after winner. Nele had no response for the change in tactics from her younger sister and lost the game 11-8.

More followed from Tinne as she could see that Nele was struggling to cope with the patterns of play that she was producing. Tinne couldn’t miss as she relentlessly attacked the corners of the court, as a panicking Nele looked back at fiancé and World No.4 Paul Coll for answers. Tinne impressively levelled 11-5.

The words of wisdom from Coll in between the fourth and fifth game looked to have been crucial for Nele as she got off to the perfect start in the fifth game, leading 4-1. Despite Tinne clawing her way back to 4-5, Nele put together a string of positive rallies to test a the movement of a fading Tinne, who couldn’t register another point as Nele romped to the title, the biggest of her career.

Nele : “That was so tough physically but it was even tougher mentally to play against your sister. You try to forget about it but it’s almost impossible. To be honest, the way she won the third and the fourth, I thought I had zero chance in the fifth.

“I tried to just reset and forget about the past two games and just start a completely new game and focus point-for-point and I’m glad I managed to sneak the win. To be honest it could have gone either way and I would’ve been so happy for Tinne is she won as well.”

Tinne : “I didn’t want to leave that court without giving my all. Even though I was 2-0 down I still wanted to fight. I changed my tactics a little bit. In the first two games I feel like I was a little bit playing a length game with her which I was never going to win physically.

“So I just tried to use my attacking shots so every opportunity I had I went for it, and my shots seemed to work a little bit better today so after winning that third game I thought that it was working so I kept doing it.

“In the fourth and then in the fifth, I don’t think she gave me a lot of opportunities for me to use the front of the court. I gave it all on court today and she ended up winning so I’m sad for me, but I’m happy for her.”

Farag denies Elias a birthday present

[1] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-1 [2] Diego Elias (Per)   6-11, 11-4, 14-12, 11-8 (78m)

Ali Farag is the 2023 VITAGEN Singapore Squash Open champion after defeating Peru’s Diego Elias in a close-fought 72-minute clash.

The final was the third final the pair have met in this season, after the Paris Squash and the Qatar Classic in which Egypt’s Ali Farag took both titles.

Of the 23 occasions that the two have played each other, Peru’s Diego Elias has won just three, with two coming in 2016 and 2017, and the most recent time being a retirement from the World No.1 in last year’s U.S. Open.

Elias had a testing semi final against Mostafa Asal, but came away the 3-1 victor. Farag faced No.6 seed Marwan ElShorbagy, who had knocked out defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy in the round prior. The No.1 seed dispatched the Englishman in straight games to progress to his third final of the season.

Elias started quickly, building a 7-1 lead over the top seed and looking settled in the early rallies. Farag grew into the game, but was still on the back foot and the slow start was the Egyptian’s undoing as he gave Elias four game balls. The ‘Peruvian Puma’ only needed one opportunity to convert his lead as he took the first game 11-6.

The World champion looked more consistent in the second game, trading points with the World No.2 before creating a two-point gap with a pin-point forehand drop to make it 5-3. The Egyptian marched on, collecting consecutive points to 9-3. The momentum was heavily on the side of Farag as he pushed on to an 11-4 game to level the match.

In a crucial third game that involved several brutally long rally, Farag looked to have the advantage at 5-3, but the No.2 seed brought the game back level with two hard-earned points.

The pair traded points to 9-9. The Egyptian kept on top from there, earning four match balls. Elias was pushed physically to keep up with the World No.1, but Farag finally found his breakthrough with a backhand drop to took the momentous 30-minute third game.

The Egyptian and the Peruvian exchanged points to 3-3, but the end of the third game seemed to have taken a toll on Elias, as Farag took control of the match, establishing a five-point lead of his South American counterpart.

Farag maintained his lead give himself four championship balls. The World No.1 put two balls into tin, but it was Elias’ shot that sealed the title for Farag as he hit the tin to make it three titles so far season for the Egyptian.

“When I started my career I would never of thought that I would have 36 titles to my name. Nicol David said once that you should cherish these moments whilst they’re happening so I’m trying to enjoy every minute of it whilst improving at the same time. I’m very proud and happy and looking forward to Hong Kong already.

“The third was very crucial. Diego started the match better, he was hitting his marks and I had to change a few things. We had some brutal rallies at the start of the second and in the third we had a really long rally followed by a review and I felt a drop in energy. Thankfully, I managed to recover and then got a good lead in the fourth and managed to close it out.”

Singapore Open Squash – Finals Preview

Nele v Tinne : First up is the all-Gilis women’s final between Belgian sisters Nele and Tinne, the third and fourth seeds.

This will be their seventh meeting on PSA, with older sister Nele leading 6-1, and the last two were also PSA Finals, Tinne taking the Annecy Rose trophy, Nele winning the Open de France both in 2022, the same year that Tinne beat defending champion Nele in the European Individuals final.

They’ve both been impressive this week and have spent a similar amount of time on court.

Ali v Diego : The men’s final features the top two seeds, the world numbers one and two. World Champion Ali Farag has been in imperious form this week posting three 3-0 wins so far, while Diego Elias – the Pan American Games Champion whose birthday it is today – has spent 50% longer on court to get to this, his second Singapore Open final in a row.

The bad news for Diego fans is that Ali has won 20 of their 23 meetings, and if you discount the last year’s 2-minute US Open final when Ali retired injured, the Egyptian has won each of the last 17 meetings dating back to Sep 2017. Six of the last eight meetings have been in finals.