PREVIEW : Farag relishing playing at home

Egypt’s World No.2 Ali Farag is looking forward to playing on home soil in the CIB Black Ball Squash Open PSA Platinum tournament.

Cairo-born Farag has enjoyed a formidable start to the 2018/19 season, winning both the Oracle NetSuite Open and Qatar Classic titles as well as reaching the final of the Channel VAS Championships at St George’s Hill and Hong Kong Open.

A tournament in front of a home crowd comes next for the Egyptian and Farag insisted this event will be extra special for him.

“I am thrilled to be playing in my backyard,” said the 26-year-old.

“It’s literally 15 minutes away from where I live, so I couldn’t have asked for a better setup. I am really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed and going on with a normal routine day while playing such a big tournament.

“I am obviously determined to do well in every tournament, but this one is extra special as it’s always a bonus to do well here in front of family, friends, coaches, sponsors and everyone that helps all year long.

“It’s a big thank you to everyone involved when they witness you do well live.”

The 26-year-old Egyptian – who narrowly missed out on claiming the Hong Kong Open title to compatriot Mohamed ElShorbagy – admitted he is particularly looking forward to playing in front of a partisan home crowd for the first time this season.

“You know how much Egyptians love their squash, so the crowd is always immense here at home.

“It’s always great to feel the crowd behind you, roaring you on, lifting you up when you’re down and filling you with confidence when you’re up.

“I couldn’t have wished for a better 2018. I’ve been playing the best squash of my career so far and I will give it my 110% to finish it on a high note.”

Farag will face either France’s Lucas Serme or England’s Joshua Masters in round two.

Matches held on the glass court will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).

Entry to the first day of the tournament on Monday December 3 will be free of charge. Tickets for the rest of the tournament are available from TicketsMarche.

A women’s PSA World Tour Gold Black Ball Open will take place at the Black Ball Sporting Club from 11th to 15th March 2019.