Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) 3-0  Ali Farag (EGY) 11-7, 11-3, 16-14 (39m)
Same game plan for Mohamed than yesterday against Gawad. Let’s blast him off court! And it worked wonders for 2 games. But in the third, a very subdued Ali finally awoke, and was clawing back into the match, making his camp believe that he might be able to take the third, and then, who knows? Mohamed had a bit of a drop in energy in the 4th against Gawad…
9 winners in the opener for the English, and only 3 for Ali, 11/7 Mohamed. The second, Ali doesn’t show up, Mohamed is a man on a mission still (it was 6/1 in the previous game), 11/3 in 6m!
Finally, we start to see a bit of Ali’s game – not his normal mid-pace, length and width, no, it’s all bamwam thank you for coming, from both of them. 3/3, Ali finally up leading, 5/3, 6/4, 7/5. Caught up 7/7. And it’s 10/8, match ball for Mohamed.
Two huge rallies at that point, and we are in a tiebreak. Two game balls for Ali, the crowd is supporting their man, but Mohamed ends up with taking the match on his 5th match ball, 16/14, the longest match of the day, 22m.
Excellent atmosphere between the two old foes/friends….
Yesterday, I was having diner with Darwish and Wael [his coach/brother] and I told them exactly what you just said to me: Mohamed was going to start fast with a lot of boasts, short shots to the front to test my movement. I knew that. I needed to start with a better length game. But my length was horrendous today, the whole three games!
I kept hitting the sidewall, in particular on my backhand, clipped the sidewall, or too loose, so I kept crosscourting and Mohamed is lethal when you crosscourt. So I couldn’t find a way.
Then in the third, I found my way in, I had to go and build up the rally, in the front two corners, because I couldn’t find the back, which is tough, but it worked. Had I started maybe not in the first but at least in the second, I would have given myself a good chance.
But it’s all credit to Mohamed, the Champion, he knows exactly how his opponent feels, he plays the right tactic and he didn’t let me in in the first two. So impressive from him.
You know, I’m glad. Had you told me before the tournament started that I would have won yesterday and that I was going to push Mohamed like this, I would have taken it. So I’m happy.
🗣 "I have David Campion here, my England Squash national coach – we’re here on a mission to win an event here in Egypt and I really hope we can keep this form up.”@MoElshorbagy reacts to a mega win in Cairo 🗣 pic.twitter.com/JUa4QQLdae
— 🏴 England Squash (@englandsquash) March 5, 2023
“I told Ali at the end of the match that I need him back because I’m back.
“Last season I was not there at all, I didn’t play a good season while he did. We’re the two biggest rivals on tour right now, we’re the two biggest names on tour right now. It’s credit to us because it’s the first time we’ve met before a final since Qatar 2017.
“It’s a different mentality playing him today knowing that tomorrow the winner has to play another match. The last 12 or 13 times we’ve played have been in finals. It shows the consistency we’ve had over the past four or five years together.
“We’ve played each other at the highest level, we’ve played in each venue in each venue and it’s always good to go on court with him even if he’s not 100 per cent. You can see he’s playing better every game, but when you play Ali, he still has his presence.
“When I played Gawad yesterday, you still have to play Gawad. It doesn’t matter if he’s on one leg or not, he has his presence, his charisma, his character. When you play players like these, they don’t have to be at their best for you to fear them.
“That’s what Ali has, and that’s what I have. I think it’s out 26th time playing each other and I look forward to playing him way more times hopefully.
“It’s a tournament that I haven’t played much in my career, it’s only my third or fourth time. I missed quite a few because I couldn’t play events in Egypt and this tournament only started a bit later in my career. This is a court that hasn’t gone well with my game over the years and I kept losing in the quarters.
“I’ve had to figure out where it was going wrong. I’ve had to make a few changes with my team, I have David Campion here, my England Squash national coach. We’re here on a mission to win an event here in Egypt and I really hope we can keep this form up.”