Monte-Carlo Semis


[2] Melissa Alves (FRA) 3-1 Nour Heikal (EGY)  6-11, 14-12, 11-4, 11-5 (44m)
[8] Rana Ismail (EGY) 3-1 [4] Marie Stephan (FRA)  11-9, 11-6, 8-11, 11-3 (35m)


It will be a France v Egypt affair in the final at the Monte Carlo Classic on Friday evening, for the first time in the event’s rich history!

In the semis, #2 seed Mélissa Alves ended the giantkilling run of 19-year old Nouran Heikal while Rana Ismail got the better of Marie Stéphan in 4 games.

Like she did in her three previous matches, world #106 Nour Heikal started her semifinal firing on all cylinders against #30 Mélissa Alves. The young Egyptian took her higher ranked opponent by surprise and hit a flurry winners in the first game, winning it 11-6.

Although the second game started in the same fashion, Alves started to get in the match and relied on her retrieving abilities to shift the momentum little by little. She saved 4 game balls at 10-6 and managed the level the score, 14-12.

This was a massive blow for Heikal, whose winners/errors ratio started to dramatically decrease and Alves got the lead. The beginning of the fourth game was close, but the from 4-5 the French number 1 was clinical and won 7 points in a row to close the match.

“She played very well at the start and I wasn’t accurate enough,” said Alves to MC Romain Suire afterwards. “Obviously, it would have been tough if I’d gone 2-love down so it was crucial to get the second game, I am glad I managed to turn things around thanks to my defence because it’s not my natural game. Her ranking does not mean anything, as a matter of fact I am sure she’s not even sure what level she plays at. It’s hard to play against someone who has nothing to lose and who’s attacking constantly, but it feels good to win this one and I am very happy to be in the final.”

On Friday, Mélissa Alves will face another Egyptian, world #81 Rana Ismail. Although the University of Roehampton student had gone through the semis following #1 seed Lucy Turmel’s retirement, she proved she deserved her spot in the semis with an impressive display against France’s Marie Stéphan.

As we expected, the beginning of the match was close but Ismail was able to seize her opportunities at the business end of the first game. In the second, a huge push and a number of winning shots at the front of the court allowed her to narrow the gap, but the Frenchwoman came back strongly in the third and got back into the match.

For a moment it seemed like the momentum might have shifted but we were quickly proven wrong: from 3-3 in the fourth the Egyptian scored 8 points in a row and booked her ticket to the final.

“I didn’t want to go 5,” she smiled after her win. “My natural game is based on hitting drives at the back, but today I made some tactical changes because my gameplan was to attack as much as I could and move her up the court. I think it worked well and I am very happy, I haven’t won many matches lately, among other things because I’ve had tough draws.

“It’s huge for me to be in the final of a 20k, I’ll prepare the match tomorrow with my coach Ahmed Hosny but I don’t want to overthink it. I’ve only been in one final in PSA so far and I won it, so I hope the streak continues …”

In the final, Rana Ismail will try and cause another upset and follow the footsteps of fellow Egyptians Omneya Abdel Kawy and Nouran Gohar, who clinched the title in Monte-Carlo in 2010 and 2014. As far as Mélissa Alves goes, she will be the second French player to feature in the event’s final after Camille Serme in 2013.