R3: Mental squash Mo 3-1 Fares

[2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng) 3-1 Fares Dessouky (Egy)  11-6, 5-11, 11-8, 11-5 (58m)

I remember that match these two played. Round three of the Egyptian Open. Finishing like 11-9 in the 5th in 75m, going to Fares. Mohamed was NOT HAPPY. It was on very warm courtside courts.

Mohamed was very nervous at the start of the game. Chatting, looking through the side wall, and arguing with the ref from his first decision at 4/4! He was right by the way, the decision was overruled but it was the way he was going for the ref’s throat. I know my Mohamed. When he is like that, he is very unsettled and edgy.

5 errors for Fares in the first game though, none for Mohamed, and it’s 11/6 in13m, with good fast rallies, Mohamed finding his length and width, while Fares was finding his targets at the front. Great squash.

Complete change of scenery in the 2nd, no errors from Fares, and 5 from Mohamed. How weird. Fares is flying, Mohamed not that much, 8/4, 5/11 in 13m (again!).

The third is – as so often – the crucial turning point. Fares with the momentum, still as accurate as ever at the front, up 4/0. Mohamed gets more and more annoyed with the refS (central and video). Fares ain’t impressed either and goes “who is the video ref???” “Irrelevant” replies Roy Gingel.

But it goes quite to a point of arguing that Roy has got to warn Mohamed that any more comment will result in a conduct stroke. And in the same sentence, Mohamed goes IT’S A JOKE commenting the video ref decision. That logically didn’t go well, conduct stroke and instead of 5/3, we are now 6/3 for Fares!

Unfortunately for poor Fares, that was like a red flag to a bull, and Mohamed forgot he was nervous, forgot all about the demons he seemed to have in his head, and he never looked back to be honest. From 7/7 Mohamed was replying to every shot so quickly, moving extraordinarily well, 10/7 11/8 in 17m.

Fares tried to change his game several times, and although he looked pretty tired, he kept finding lovely killers – should be killers – that kept jumping off the court, opening the court wide for Mohamed. The former world champ was dictating the game, the pace, the shots. He went 4/2, 7/4, 11/5, quick game, 8m. Relieved he was I felt.

Fares : The court is very bouncy, doesn’t suit my game at all, can’t find winners, it’s not squash! But all credit to him, those conditions fit him, he is comfortable with that kind of conditions. I tried to do everything I could, take the pace off, but these are not suitable conditions for a game of squash!

Like I said, I tried to push hard, I tried everything I could on there, but he is smart, he is clever, can’t play a winner, the ball keep coming back… Mohamed loves those conditions, he plays very well here…

Mohamed :“It was a brutal match mentally.

“You can’t relax with Fares. He was always two points away and anything can happen, even when he was physically hurt. We’ve always had great matches together and you can see the respect between the two teams.

“His coach is a very good friend of mine and we always have a good spirit between us. It was a tough battle and it was very hot on court. It was a good test for me to get on court with these conditions, especially before I play Paul.

“Outdoor conditions are interesting because you can have a tactic that you play against someone but then the conditions can ruin these tactics. It’s experience that gets me through all these things these past few years.

“I’m happy to make another quarter here and I’m excited to be back for another match.”