R3 : Mohamed 3-0 Youssef S

[6] Mohamed Elshorbagy (ENG) 3-0 Youssef Soliman (EGY) 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 (46m)

“Le spectacle était dans la salle », as we would say in French. It was all happening off-court!

Testosterone was floating in the El Gouna Squash Complex as Mohamed and Youssef started playing. Those two are extremely good friends, were flatmates in Bristol, and training partners for years.

As expected, Mohamed was making sure the world knew he was still ready to rumble and kept toe to toe with Yous in the opener. Not more than a point, up to 9/9, Mohamed clinching a very vocal first game – both players arguing and complaining to the ref about the other’s movement, 16m, 11/9.

As he exited the court, Mohamed shouted “All Black Guttural Shout” and went ‘WAKE UP’, about 6 or 7 times, throwing his racquet on his bag. “Conduct warning for racquet abuse”, “but I only threw it in my bag” he explained…

After talking with Greg Gaultier, his coach, he had calmed down a bit, and as he came back on court, he apologised to the ref.

The second game was quicker, Youssef a bit less sharp at the front, the hard work produced and the adrenalin spent slowed him down a fraction. 11/7 to Mohamed, 11m.

But as they exited the court, Youssef was about to get through the door, and Mohamed pushed him in the back, it was not too strong but he did. The two boys faced each other for a few seconds, nearly coming to blows, it was all fun and games. I can’t remember who came to separate them, but they went to their corners.

Youssef made clear to the ref “YOU MADE IT HAPPEN THAT WAY”, and was warned for descent.

While Mohamed was resting and getting Greg’s advice, an older gentleman—I saw him regularly at BlackBall—came to tell Mohamed off! Mohamed told him where to go; Marwan joined the fun and demanded that Lee Beachill, sitting in the stands, “kick that man out.”

Eventually, a very assertive ref calmed everybody down and warned of immediate conduct stroke in the event of any comment. That worked wonderfully.

I felt that Mohamed really needed to win that third, as the mental energy he spent on that match was, I think, going to take its toll in a 4th… But it wasn’t to be, although Youssef played out of his skin and threatened his flatmate.

As he left the court, having won the third match in 14m, Mohamed shouted straight at Youssef’s clan and went, “NO CHANCE. NO CHANCE. NEVER. NOT HERE. NOT HERE.”

And as he walked away, he went, “IT’S SO GOOD TO BE SCARY AGAIN”.

Mohamed : It’s SO GOOD TO BE SCARY AGAIN!!!!

You know why I am a completely different player than the one from yesterday? I spoke with Jonah [Barrington] last night for the first time in 6 months. And I just delayed my retirement for a few years, I tell you!

Very happy to win in three. Youssef is a very dangerous player.

A very different personality for me compared to yesterday: I wanted to have a go at myself, not at my opponent, and I guess a little bit of me having a go at myself got on my opponent a little bit I guess.

I don’t think anything actually rude happened on court between us. None of us swore at each other, none of us had a go at the other one in terms of disrespect. It was just two warriors having a battle and a go at each other.

I love everything about it and every second of it.

I actually didn’t mean to push him. But I tell you something. We are men. And that little push, come on, you can get over it. And yes, if it had been done to me, I would have reacted, but I wouldn’t cry over it! I was brought up by people like Nick, like Greg. They made me tough.

I lived with Youssef for 5 years, him and his brother, I know him very well, and we are actually great friends off court. But on court, I don’t care. I want to win. How many years do I have left on court, I don’t know.

He’ll have a chance to learn from this. To get tougher. He’ll not be happy about what happened on court. About the fact he lost. I didn’t used to be happy when I used to lose matches like these. I remember what Darwish did to me a few times when I used to come up. And it made me tough. And I just learned and try to find ways to beat them.

None of  us cheated on court, none of us was trying to injure the other person. Just two players, and things getting tense sometimes. It’s a very tough sport, it’s very physical, it’s very close contact. And the most important thing, I never take anything off court.

The third game was tough, he was coming back, getting back at me, at 6/2, I thought he was going to let go as he did in Chicago but this time he pushed back and he played hard. I respect that. He made it so difficult for me to close that game I tell you.

I closed up with a bit of experience, I was more accurate, I felt I was more active than passive. And you know, I’m still very dangerous, I know in my day I can beat players. Maybe I don’t have the consistency I used to have. But I’m still dangerous.

So, another quarter, if things go to seeding, Ali is playing well, if I get the chance to play Ali, on the glass, in Egypt, I’m going to enjoy it, I’m going to have a go at him, but for now, let’s go for recovery, and it’s nice to be the first man in the quarters because normally, I’m the last one.