R3: Asal doesn’t disappoint, same difference, 3-0 Joel

[3] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-0 Joel Makin (Wal)  11-6, 11-9, 11-8 (71m)

Some of you might be surprised to see me on the match’s photos. Yes, doesn’t often happen that I place myself front row in Egypt. I don’t feel that’s my place.

But as all the Squash people had more or less deserted the place, not that keen to watch another rugby display I guess. The SloMo PSA cameraman was on the front row for the first two games. So I boldly sat next to him to see first-hand what was really happening.

I was not disappointed.

Well, actually, I was. I was still hoping there was hope. That after all that we had seen about Mr Asal’s movement – clearly and definitely, no conspiracy, no victimisation, plain and simple outrageous behaviour caught and shown – that Mr Asal would finally become the champion I always hoped he would/could be.

I was happy with the first game, he was playing sublime squash, showing if needed (and it doesn’t) that he can hit the ball, cleanly, that he has all the weapons to beat anybody on a squash court, without any shenanigans of any kind. Joel was trying to compensate the bouncing of the ball, by taking the pace of it, but couldn’t, in my opinion, find the right attacking/defending ratio balance in that opener.

Trouble started in the second. Thank the Lord for slow motion, I was able to see first-hand what nobody else could see: Mr Asal in action slo-mo. Actually, Mr Asal’s leg in action, his movement completely preventing Joel to get to the ball, twice very clearly.

First at 9/9 – as you would, of course, it’s not fun at 1/1 – Mr Asal stepping literally into Joel line. No let given and confirmed….

The second, still in that same second, at 10/9 game ball for Mr Asal, and his leg just stretches, preventing his opponent’s movement.

I do not take pleasure in writing reports like this one. It’s everything I hate doing.

I’m not saying the Welshman should have won the match. I’m not a clairvoyant, and like I said, Mr Asal was the better player in the first game. Unfortunately, Joel was not allowed a fair go at the second.

Ban. Video showing outrageous behaviour. Same difference.

What a waste of talent.

Joel : I’ve been starting well in the last few tournaments. I’m playing a lot more aggressively, whether people recognise that or not. I’m hard to beat across the middle, I’m playing at a good pace, my attacks are getting better, my straight shots are going well.

I was a bit wary of the pace at the start because the heat was so much, I didn’t want to start punching myself out, I wanted to pick up my punches but I was a bit too slow. Probably 10, 20% too slow, it was like 60, it should have been 75, 80.

He’s got the big weapons through his forehand, and there is obviously the movement issues. That was the best match we ever had, there were less issues, but unfortunately, they are not astute enough to pick up what’s really going on, even with the replays from the front, it’s a shame they can’t see more.

He played some good squash there, if I get beaten in a squash match, that’s fine, I don’t want that to happen but I can get beaten in a squash match, I shake hands and say well played, but it’s when there is other nonsense going on, and that’s when it gets disappointing.

Because, or you will have to get drawn down to a bad level, or you want them to pick it up.

That stepped aside, my squash has improved, I’m in a good place, even if it’s going to take another three years, I’m prepared to do it, I want to keep chipping away, my ball control is getting better, I’m catching up, the first part of the season was poor, then I had a good patch of form.

There a lot of things I still can do, I still want to get to the top end of the game, I’m not happy where I am at, so I want to keep and see what I can do, I’ve got more to do.

Asal : “It was a tough battle. Joel is an amazing player and he’s such a warrior inside the court. I played my best squash today and I’m the defending champion here. Everyone is with me and I want to keep this title.”

Speaking about his new coach, Mohamed Elkeiy, Mostafa said: “It was the first time he has coached me during a match. He’s such an amazing character and he’s much calmer than me, I need this.

“There are more changes coming but I’m waiting until the new season. I’m just happy that I’m 22 years old and I’m living my best moments.”