Hania El Hammmay is the 2023 QTerminals Qatar Classic champion after beating Egyptian compatriot and World No.1 Nour El Sherbini in an incredible final at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex.
This year marked the long-awaited return of the women’s event, which was last played in 2015.
The pair went into today’s final well aware of each other’s strengths, having met four times – two of which came in finals – in the last 12 months, with the record 2-2 apiece.
The opening game began with watchful rallies before sparking into life as both players upped the pace, with El Sherbini clinching the lead with an 11-9 win.
The second game was equally frenetic as El Hammamy responded with an 11-9 win of her own to pull level.
In a back-and-forth third game, in which neither player was able to consistently hold the momentum, the World No.1 regained the lead, taking the game by 11-9.
Incredibly, the fourth game ended 11-9 too, with El Hammamy taking advantage of a number of El Sherbini errors to draw level for the second time and force a deciding game.
In a scarcely believable finale, the 23-year-old came charging out, moving more quickly than at any other point in the match as she raced into a 9-1 lead against a stunned El Sherbini.
‘The Warrior Princess’, famed for her ability to pull off seemingly impossible victories, briefly threatened to mount an incredible comeback as she started chipping away at the World No.3’s lead, but El Hammamy was able to cling on, collapsing to the ground as she sealed the title with an 11-6 victory in the final game.
For both El Sherbini and El Hammamy, attention turns to the U.S. Open, which takes place between 07-14 October.
The men’s QTerminals Qatar Classic final, meanwhile, takes place tomorrow between World No.1 Ali Farag of Egypt and World No.2 Diego Elias of Peru.
Afterwards, El Hammamy said: “It’s definitely unbelievable for me. Last week I lost in the third round in Paris.
“I’m definitely proud of the way I’m fighting everyday and the way I bounce back after each loss.
“Playing against Nour is very hard. She’s the classy image of being a World No.1 and a World Champion. She’s the one I look up to and I try to learn from her to carry that image when it’s my time to be on top.
“I’ve always enjoyed it, it’s always a pleasure playing against her.
“I couldn’t have done it this week without my team, the people who supported me throughout all the difficult times. It’s been very difficult these last couple of weeks, without them it couldn’t happen.
“Having Karim Darwish with me this week is absolutely amazing, special thanks to him.
“Lastly I want to thank the crowd for being here, it’s been amazing.
“I want to thank the Qatar Federation and everyone who was able to help us have this tournament for women as well because it’s absolutely amazing.
“Now we’re able to be here and we’re very grateful for you to have us.”
El Hammamy concluded with thanks to her sponsors.
In her speech, El Sherbini said: “Of course I’m disappointed that I lost this match, but I’m really proud that I did two finals back-to-back. It’s just the start of the season.
“Everyone knows how physical Hania is, and how much of a fighter she is. She’s still young, she’s still hungry. I really love playing against her.
“She’s an amazing player, hopefully we’re going to have a lot of battles this season.”
Result: QTerminals Qatar Classic Women’s Final
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 11-6 (84m)
By Nadeem Faisal Baiga