R2: Marwan, Paul, Aly, Dimitri

18.15 Matches :
[9/16] Marwan Elshorbagy (Eng) 3-1 Leandro Romiglio (Arg) 11-7, 9-11, 11-3, 11-7 (47m)
[2] Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-1 Youssef Ibrahim (Egy) 11-8, 10-12, 11-6, 11-9 (73m)
[9/16] Aly Abou Eleinen (Egy) 3-1 [7] Mazen Hesham (Egy) 13-11, 11-13, 11-8, 13-11 (85m)
Dimitri Steinmann (Sui) 3-0 Henry Leung (Hkg) 11-4, 11-5, 11-3 (32m)

Aly v Mazen : I was working on my computer, following the scoreboard, when I saw 13/11, 11/13, 22m, 22m. And I thought to myself, if Aly takes the third, Mazen is going to feel the burn in the legs.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Mazen would have a few years ago folded the match in that 4th, but the hard work he has been doing off court allows him to dig in and still be patient. And patience he needed, as Aly was playing a perfect tactic to frustrate him: taking him to the left wall, with tight drives and crossed court lobs, keeping the pace very low, to frustrate the Black Falcon.

And it seemed to work, as Aly found himself up 4/1, 5/2. And against my prediction, he was the one that actually had a big energy drop at that point, making a few errors, and conceding two strokes. Back level at 5/5, 6/6, 7/7.

Splendid two rallies and it’s 9/7 for the Falcon. Aly, finding his legs and second wind at exactly the right time, levels at 9/9.

Mazen will have two opportunities to close the game, 10/9, 11/10, but Aly will need only one match ball, and it’s 13/11 on a clear stroke. Another 22m game, believe it or not.

And breathe.

Aly : Twelve years ago [fourteen actually], when this tournament started, I was a little kid watching these top guys play, and all I wanted was to be one of those guys…

My dream is to win El Gouna. Obviously, winning the World Champs is the goal of every player, and it is for me as well but after that, just comes El Gouna, just because it’s so special for me, because the first rounds were played in Alexandria.

I have been battling all season, I had a tough one against Ali at the US Open, 3/1, it was the first time I got a game out of the top guys, and then in Houston, I was to 5 with Karim, and lost 11/9 in the 5th, I went straight to Chicago, I lost 11/9 in the 5th to Dessouky, and then, went to BlackBall and lost to Karim 11/8 in the 5th!

And as happy as I am to get close matches, I want to win, and believe it or not, the losses, they teach you a lot.

Today, I cramped at the end of the 5th, and if I was tired, he must have been tired as well. I just wanted to keep fighting until the last point. My coach Hesham El Attar, my parents, everybody kept telling me that it would come, and when it does, it’s going to feel special.

And they were right.

Another day tomorrow to recover, and back to it again…