Egyptian duo Mostafa Asal and Nouran Gohar are the 2021 US Open squash champions after they overcame compatriots Mostafa Asal and Hania El Hammamy, respectively, on a thrilling finals night at Philadelphia’s Arlen Specter US Squash Center.
Twenty-year-old Asal has become the youngest ever US Open champion after launching a monumental comeback from two games down to capture his first PSA World Tour Platinum title.
It brings an end to a gruelling tournament for Asal, who battled through a 103-minute fixture against World No.3 Paul Coll in the quarter finals, a 96-minute humdinger with Diego Elias in the semi finals and a 91-minute title decider with Momen.
The World No.10 was second best for the first two games but found a new lease of life in the third and fourth games to draw level, overturning a championship ball in the latter. Asal’s mental strength was unwavering in the decider as he retrieved ball after ball to claim a stunning 5-11, 5-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-3 victory.
“I don’t believe the feeling,” said Asal after his sixth PSA title.
“I have all the respect for Tarek, he was 2-0 up and I think it was a great battle today. I’ve been having so many 3-2s in the last couple of days and I cannot believe it until now. I was having problems before the tournament, whether I would enter or if I couldn’t, but I managed to win the title.
“I want to thank everyone, my coaches, my physios, mentally for me to be able to recover after all of these matches is something unbelievable. Lastly, I want to thank US Squash and the PSA, Lee Beachill [PSA Chief Operating Officer] and everyone behind this tournament. Thank you guys for having us again and I can’t wait for the next event for this tournament.”
Meanwhile, Gohar has captured back-to-back U.S. Open titles after coming back from a game down to beat World No.6 Hania El Hammamy 9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-3 in 74 minutes.
Gohar – who overturned a 2-0 deficit and a match ball against compatriot Nour El Tayeb to win the 2019 U.S. Open – found herself a game down and 9-4 behind after a rampant start from her opponent.
But a change in tactic from the 24-year-old saw her go on the offensive, and the momentum shifted in Gohar’s favour as she moved on to claim a seventh successive win over El Hammamy. It is Gohar’s second successive Platinum title after winning the CIB Egyptian Open in September and her 12th PSA title overall.
“I can’t really believe it, but it seems like I have to always be down in the final of the U.S. Open,” said Gohar afterwards.
“Last year I was match ball down, this year thankfully I was only 1-0 and 9-4 down. I just wanted to stick around most of the time, and I’m just glad with the way I dealt with it. I felt I was the most experienced today, so that made a huge difference.
“I’ve been in these situations before against the top players… I think what made the difference is that I just wanted to stick to my game plan and adapt a little bit. I played better, I thought about it more and that made the difference today. I think many matches, many losses, were in the back of my mind, so I just took the experience and was trying to execute it today.”
Gohar and Momen take home $19,000 in prize money for their efforts in Philadelphia this week, while Momen joins Gohar and Ali Farag in qualifying for the season-ending PSA World Tour Finals, which will take place in Cairo in June, 2022.
Men’s:  Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt  Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-2: 5-11, 5-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-3 (91m)
Women’s:  Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt  Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-1: 9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-3 (74m)