SF :  Ali Farag (Egy) 3-0  Mostafa Asal (Egy) 11-8, 11-5,11-5 (39m)
Interestingly enough, I noticed that with all the scalps the young Raging Bull has taken since his last appearance in the World Junior Open, he only only one top Egyptian, Abouelghar, that was in New York a year ago in Jan. And in my mind, he was not going to beat Ali tonight. Not yet. Too soon. He is not ready mentally to beat his role models.
You add to the fact that Mostafa had spent one hour more on court, and that he managed to beat Paul Coll (une paille! easy one) two days ago, WR4, only to confirm yesterday with one of the other more physical players on tour, Miguel Rodriguez, WR10!
Mentally, physically, he looked a bit flat from the start, making 6 errors in the first game, plus conceding 2 strokes, that’s 8 points offered to Ali, only 3 winners to score really. He mentioned also afterwards that he was fine when he got of court, but after two rallies, a blister went raw between the thumb and the index.
Not sure to be honest if the blister played a role, if only, mentally, when you play the World number one, you might want to hold the racquet! I remember Ali having cut his finger in the Egyptian Open, it was a worry for sure when he was playing.
Anyway, blister or no blister, poor Mostafa did all the work in the second, pushed Ali to absorb many many winners, but would just clip the tin, again and again! He actually made 9 errors, plus conceding a stroke. That’s 10 points to Ali, who only played a winner… 9 m game.
Raging Bull tried a tape on the hand as he asked for a three minute self injury time on top of the 2m between games, but he realised that it wouldn’t work much better, and got rid of it in the warm up. He played a better game actually, 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4. But Ali’s sponge action of absorbing whatever the contender was trying allowed the number 1 to get ahead 8/5. Two errors made that match ball, 10/5, closed on his first attempt, game match to Ali, 11/5, in 12m.
But like the young man concluded: “Good tournament. Happy”. You bet!!!
I had a game plan in mind, but you never know if you’re going to be able to execute it in three or four games and even when he came out with outright winners I still knew I was going with the right game plan. It’s this balance of being aggressive without getting too explosive because that’s how he likes to play. I had to have an aggressive ‘T’ position without speeding things up unnecessarily. Whatever is hindering him with his hand, I hope it goes away soon. I’m very pleased with the way I played.
“I think the unforced errors were partly down to pressure and to hypnotising him rather than getting into his rhythm, which I think frustrated him a little but again the grip issue he had with the blister probably hindered the way he would have liked to play – but I’m not going to take anything away from myself there.
When you’re at No.1, finals is what you try to achieve consistently. As I said in an interview with PSA before I came here, I’ve never won three titles back-to-back. I’ve won at the Pyramids and then in Qatar, so it would be amazing if I can add another one here.