R3: Ali 3-1 Nicki

[1] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-1 Nicolas Mueller (SUI)  7-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-5 (41m)

The Swiss No.1, who beat Farag 2-0 at the 2022 Grasshopper Cup in their last encounter, made a fantastic start, with his attacking weaponry too much for Farag to handle as he took the opener 11-7.

“Review all day long!”

As Ali stated, he was not exactly on court when Nicolas started his gunfight at OK Gouna, 5/0, 10/4, a little wake up from Ali at the end but far too little too late, 11/7 in 10m

A good response from the Egyptian in the second, 9/1 11/5 in 7m and in the third 5/1, 8/2, 11/4 in 9m. About the same pace/energy from both in the last game, Nicki getting some lovely winners in but so many errors, giving confidence to Ali he was on the winning path, 4/0, 5/1 (4 errors from the Swiss at that point) and Ali calmely going to 8/3 then 11/5, 10m.

Nicki : In the first I came out firing, he was probably a bit laid back, not ready and I took full advantage of that. I rushed to a very good start, had a big lead and managed to close that one.

Obviously, I knew it was going to be tough after that, I wasn’t going to be able to keep that pace up and he was going to step it up and change his game.

I lost my length in the second, and the third, and the fourth.. He started to work me a bit and I hit a lot, a lot of tins. He is number one in the world, a lot of pressure all the way through till the end.

I’m very happy with part of it, super happy, and on the other hand, I hit some ridiculous bad losers! But it was a joy to be playing out here, on such a stage. I wish I could have more than one game though…

Ali : I hadn’t started the match I was already down 5-0!

It’s been different playing on an outdoor court. The court itself plays differently. We’ve played on it for so many years now and the bounces are not always as you expect them to be and you have to adapt for it. I think Nicki did a lot better than me in the first few points but once I got into the groove I found it very good and I think I got better and better as the match went on.

I’m feeling very fired up. A loss in the Black Ball Open final takes a dent out of your confidence but also fires you up; it depends on how you use it. I don’t think I played badly in the final, but Mostafa was on fire, and that makes me more fired up to play better here and prove to myself that I can still win these kinds of events.

Mohamed, we love how fiery he is. His hunger has never faded away since he was five years old, but today, he was a little extra fiery. I’m not sure why that is, but I’m sure it’s not going to be any different after tomorrow. I think he’s going to be fiery and trying to take me down in three if he can, and I’ll try my best to nullify that.