Egypt’s Mostafa Asal became the youngest champion at twenty years old while Nouran Gohar became just the second back-to-back women’s champion at the U.S. Open Squash Championships presented by Truist Wednesday, October 6, at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia.
The all-Egyptian finals produced two thrilling matches for the packed Specter Center gallery, with a seventy-four-minute women’s final leading off the night between Gohar and world No. 6 Hania El Hammamy. El Hammamy started on the front foot, taking the first game 11-9 and held a 9-4 lead in the second game. Gohar, who came back from 2-0 down in her 2019 U.S. Open final win, surmounted another title-winning comeback, winning seven straight points to take the second and clinching the title in the third and fourth 11-7, 11-3.
“I can’t really believe it, but it seems like I have to always be down in the final of the U.S. Open,” Gohar said. “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 joins Nicol David as the only women’s champions to win back-to-back U.S. Open titles. the twenty-four-year-old’s second title in Philly is her fourth career Platinum title and second in two months after the Egyptian Open.
“I just want to thank you all for coming today, it has been unbelievable,” Gohar said. “I just love to play in front of the U.S. crowd. You guys are such an amazing crowd, very energetic. It makes a huge difference in those matches and critical points, so thank you for coming today.”
Asal, world No. 10, produced an even more dramatic comeback in the ensuing men’s final. Veteran World No. 4 Tarek Momen was on the cusp of his first U.S. Open title and second career Platinum title with a two game lead. Asal came back to take the third 11-9 from 9-all, and fought off a championship ball in the fourth to force a fifth game 12-10. The twenty-year-old was off to the races in the fifth, clinching the title 11-3 after ninety-one minutes and a total of 415 minutes of court time all tournament.
The U.S. Open title marks the phenom’s first career Platinum title. Asal now takes Gohar’s mantle set in 2019 as the youngest ever U.S. Open champion.
“I don’t believe the feeling,” Asal said. “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.”
The 2021 U.S. Open celebrated a decade of partnership with Drexel University since the first edition of the tournament in Philadelphia in 2011, and first staging of the event in the Arlen Specter US Squash Center, which officially opened on Saturday, October 2.