Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng) 3-1  Paul Coll (Nzl) 8-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-9 (61m)
To be honest I was surprised a few times with how Mohamed’s tactics today was working today, well after the first game that is.
First game, typical Paul/Shorbagy opener, gruelling, slow pace, and intensity. From 2/2, Mo zoomed nicely to 5/3, but anything you can do, I can do better and it’s 8/5 for Paul. At 8/8, the crowd is pushing their man – yes, he might be representing England, but he is still very much an Egyptian here, I tell you! Still, Superman is just stronger in the length/width deptartment, and it’s 11/8, 19m, the longest game of the match.
Complete change of tactic from Mohamed – advised by Greg G of course – Mo goes short immediately, and pushes his opponent to play his own game. Paul falls in the trap, and it’s a quick 9m game for Mohamed, 11/4.
Would you believe another change of tactic from Mohamed in the 3rd, which leaves Paul guessing constantly where is the next shot coming from/to, and he is slightly late every time, forcing 4 errors in the first part of the match, 6/3 for Mohamed.
At that point, Paul tries to re-establish his domination and court control, longer rallies, lobbing to slower the pace, trying to tire Mo, but nothing works, 8/4 Mo, 11/5. 7 winners for Bagy, and 3 from Paul…. 13m game.
The last game is neck to neck up to 5/5, 6/6, with Paul ahead a couple of points up to there, but being caught up. We are served with exquisite short game from Mohamed, I haven’t seen him play that well for a long time, rolling back the years, able to switch from one type of game to an other, and making Paul look slow. I kid you not. Incredible performance.
9-6, 10/7 match ball. A lovely winner from Paul, 8/10. An quick error from Mo, 9/10, having far too much time on the ball and forcing it into the tin bless him. But on the next point it’s a winner for the English backhand front corner, a bit of contact there, Paul asks for a let, no let confirmed by the ref.
Impressive from Mohamed today, yet again…
I thought I was playing very well in the first, in the second he played very well, I was disappointed with the third, the conditions were very tough, I was overheating a lot and I was very disappointed with myself the way I handled it: making too many mistakes, too soft.
Yes, very disappointed how I handled the situation mentally, but again, I was enjoying my squash though, so we’ll regroup, but thankfully, Nele won, so I can just go and play golf, and she can bring in the money!
I thought she did very well, she had never beaten Salma, we had a game plan that worked, all she had to do was trust it, and that’s the hardest thing in those conditions. She was running hot out there, everybody is, it’s a question of making clear decisions, and she did that sh*** better than me today…
So I’m very proud of her, she followed the game plan to a T, and got it there. Playing your biggest match in those conditions is very impressive, very proud of her mental toughness today, and something I can learn from again.
Mohamed : Every time you play Paul, I know it’s going to be brutal. And when you play him in hot conditions, even more brutal!
I’m an honest player and I know he’s not at his best this season, and he would have known that I was not at my best last season, so we haven’t really played each other at the same level]for a while. I think the last time was the US Open last year when we both played well at the same time.
I could feel on court, that he was feeling ‘I just want to get this season over and focus on next one,’ a little similar to how I was last year. Us athletes are human beings, you can lose motivation and it’s part of the sport. You can have a tough season, a tough time mentally.
He hasn’t had any time to train over the summer for two years now. Over the summer it was COVID and last year the Commonwealth Games and he’s had a brutal time to come straight into this season. I understand that, so that’s why when I lost the first tough game, normally you’d be worried but today I wasn’t as much, because I know he’s not playing the way he normally does and I had to take full advantage of that, just as all the players who have played him in the last few months did.
But, at the same time, for the sake of the sport you want all the best players to be playing at their best. I really hope he comes back next season. I know we have one more tournament, but in terms of PSA event with all the players, I hope for the sport that he’s back to his best again and plays the way we all know he does.
I remember to first year of this tournament, each year it gets better and better. I’m very proud to know such an inspired person as Amr Mansi. I’ve seen his journey since he was a player on the PSA World Tour and I looked up to him as a junior in Alexandria.
Every year it gets better and better and to be here, it’s an amazing venue and an amazing crowd. It’s a great event to have at the end of the season. Everyone loves coming here. The weather makes it tough on court but you have to deal with it.
I have no doubt the tournament will get better and better every year.
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) May 31, 2023