Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) 3-2  Diego Elias (PER) 11-7, 9-11, 11-4, 7-11, 12-10 (75m)
I could write a book about Mo. I might one day. The complexity of this young man is profound. But you can believe him when he tells you he truly loves Diego. A few years ago, he predicted that Diego would become world number one and was wary of his talent. Already then, we were in the St George’s event, I could feel his friendship for the boy.
Today, what to say. It was a fantastic game of squash. Between two mates. In front of a crowd all for Mohamed. Where were all those people when Mohamed needed them? All the times he was up against Shabana, then Ramy. And was never the favourite of the crowd. And very few people realised how incredibly hurtful it was for him. End of rant.
Trying to work out how @MoElshorbagy got this ball 🤯
That was superhuman!
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 6, 2023
It’s a weird match in my opinion. It was like Mohamed was in exhibition mode 95% of the time tonight. It made it very entertaining, but draining for both of them I felt. And maybe Diego fell into the crowd-pleasing trap? He was trying to match Mo at his own game. Nobody is as good as Mohamed at his own game…
As in his last two matches, Mo went for the “let’s play as fast and as hard as possible” tactic. I felt that Diego was handling the pressure pretty well in the first game, but far too many inaccuracies, 4 errors from the Puma, none from Mo. Three calls the whole 14m game, 5/5, 10/5, 11/7 for Mohamed.
The second, I guess Mohamed had a little drop of energy at the start, 5/0, 8/2, 9/3. Surely, game over. Out of nowhere, Mo recovers, and scores 5 points in a row, 8/9. Will follow 2 splendid winners, clapped by the English, and it’s 11/9 for the Peruvian.
11m – that’s very short. 6 errors from Mohamed, only one from Diego.
Complete change of boss in the third, it’s Mohamed all the way through, 9m, 11/4, 4 errors from the Puma, none from Mohamed. Mohamed egging the crowd on as they chant “Shor-Bag-Y, Shot-Bag-Y”.
The pace is still as fast as possible in the 4th. Mohamed is flying on the crowd wind, enjoying every second of it. Playing with them, for them, against his mate, with his girlfriend watching. Can’t get any better I feel. And even down at the end of the game, he is still enjoying it, bowing 11/7. Diego has forced a decider.
Surely, Mo is bound to be tired. Surely. Yeah, have you met Mo?
1/1. 2/2. 3/3. The rallies are getting more and more ridiculously entertaining. Fast, all corners, back and forth, repeat. and repeat. and repeat. MO, just his nose in front, 5/3, 6/4, but it’s all level 7/7. Diego now in front, 9/7.
Incredible come back from an exhausted English, he gets two points with perfect drives that die in the back, 9/9. But it’s first blood to Diego, 10/9, match ball saved, the crowd’s is breathing with Mohamed, 10/10.
A stroke for Mohamed, confirmed by the video ref, 11/10, Match ball Mo. And a fluke (reminded me of David Palmer in the British Open against James), 12/10, 24m last game.
I saw Mohamed win everything on the planet. But I’m not sure he was ever happier and prouder than he was tonight.
🗣 “I was almost going to retire last season. I didn’t know what I was doing with my life or where I was and here I am playing my sixth final this season and will be going for my fifth title, hopefully.”@MoElshorbagy is always great to listen to 👇 pic.twitter.com/G1ZSc6puvK
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 6, 2023
“I need to speak about Diego. He’s my closest friend on tour. It was so tough on court but at the same time we were smiling at each other and playing in the right spirit. I’m actually really sad that I’m the one that has stopped him from having his first chance at World No.1.
“I really like the guy a lot, we’ve been spending a lot of time together over the last few months. He invited me to Peru in December, he and his family have been so great to me. He’s going to get the chance to World No.1, I’m 100 per cent sure.
“The guy is coming out of a country where he doesn’t have anyone to look up at. He’s done it himself with his father in Peru and he has a great team behind him in Wael El Hindi, who is one of the Egyptian icons and has done a tremendous job with him and Amanda. The last time he beat my in Hong Kong we had an amazing match together and this one was probably even better.
“I’m proud to challenge his generation. I had a tough time getting to World No.1 when Greg [Gaultier], Nick [Matthew] and that generation gave me a hard time before I got there. It was my duty to give him a bit of a hard time too, unfortunately, I stopped him today and I really hope he gets it soon, but I hope I get it first.
“It’s mental strength, it’s not talent. My talent is my mentality. It’s a hidden talent and people don’t really speak about it. For people who haven’t played sport, it’s a talent that they don’t understand. I’m definitely not the most talented player of my generation, but I’m proud to be one of the toughest when it comes to the mental side of the game. I had a very tough first round with Gawad and I think I was written off after that.
“I kept backing it up and I trained really hard after last season. England Squash has done a great job with me, they’re sending a team with me in every tournament. I have David Campion with me, so thank you for being here every day.
“I was almost going to retire last season. I didn’t know what I was doing with my life or where I was and here I am playing my sixth final this season and will be going for my fifth title, hopefully.”