F :  Fares Dessouky (Egy) 3-2  Ali Farag (Egy) 5-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-8 (73m)
And so I got it all wrong. Once again. What’s new….
To be truly honest, I had Ali in three tonight. Not talent-wise of course. But I thought the fact Fares had played more than one hour more than Ali, that he had a tough encounter against Tarek, both physically and mentally, whereas Ali had an easier night, and that it was his first time for a long time in a final, not to mention a first in a major, all that was for me a quick 3/0 for Ali.
I nearly got it right though.
First game, 11m, 6/3, 7/4, 11/5 Ali in 11m, Fares giving away 6 points bless him, 6 errors. That honestly looked like Fares was a bit flat.
But like Sarah Jane in the women’s final, Fares’ body seemed to warm up nicely as the match unfolded. Errors dropped, down to 3, and the game was much closer, 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 5/5, 6/6, 7/7, 8/8. A decision at the point, no let, confirmed by the ref, and Fares loses focus for a few seconds, and Ali seizes the opportunity , taking three points in succession, very quickly, 11/8 in 17m.
And what a great start for Ali in the 3rd, 4/1. Honestly, I thought that for once, I would get a correct prediction. But
out of the blue, Ali lost his length – he told me afterwards that he was struggling to get the ball to the ball, opening the court too much, hence his change of ball – and the power, the energy suddenly came from the Alexandria’s racquet: 4/4, 6/6, 7/7. At that point, Ali looked white as a sheet, and Fares strung the winners to reach 11/7, 11m.
Fares kept the same momentum in the fourth, Ali kept fighting to stay in touch, but Fearless was always in front, 5/2, 6/4, 8/6, 9/7 and finally, game to Fares, 11/8 despite 5 errors, 0 for Ali….
Incredibly hard gruelling pace in the fifth, with both camps having their blood pressure reaching heights! Neck to neck, but it’s Fares that is dictating the shots, the pace, the change of direction, and the power in his shots is just incredible, with those poor front corners being punished and punished and punished again.
2/0 Fares, 3/1, 3/3, 4/4, 4/5. Four points in a row for Fearless, 8/5, 9/5. Ali leaves everything on the court there, claws back so close, 8/9, but an error and yet another winner from Fares, and it’s finally a big title for Fares, 11/8, 12m.
The word “happiness” doesn’t start to cover what his parents felt at that moment, they were just behind me, I think they heard the ecstatic shout all the way to Alex. Fares went through so much, a terrible injury, two surgeries, then as he was coming back, some trouble with a ref that caused him to be penalised and again kept away from the Tour.
And finally, finally, he is back strong, and where he belongs. At the top. Sorry people, another Egyptian is going pretty strong… 🙂
I’m disappointed but not in myself, I left it all out there and that’s something I can be proud of. Sometimes you come up against an opponent who is playing really well and tactically he got it spot on.
I thought the ball died a bit at the end of the third, it was hard for me to reach the back wall, and he is far too good in the first corners. So I thought a change of ball would help, but he was just dominating on that backhand straight line, he was volleying before me, and he was cutting my volleys on the backhand as well.
When you’re playing well in the first two games and you lose it, it can be hard to regain it. All credit to Fares, winning so many great battles back-to-back is a testament to who he has become, so I want to congratulate him.
I didn’t have any plan for today, to be honest. I just went on court to give 100 per cent so people could enjoy the match. The last match I played in Qatar, I gave up in the semi-final and I didn’t want to do the same at this tournament.
I wanted to grab the win for my family and all my friends who came here to support me, so thanks a lot to them. I have a new mental coach now, I know the people wanted something like that, and it’s working step-by-step.