SF : Asal outlasts ElShorbagy in five

[3] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-2 [2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng) 11-8, 11-8, 14-16, 6-11, 11-2 (109m)

I’m pretty sure that by now, you have all read what Mohamed said about Mostafa and the praise he made of his opponent. I recorded and typed them, but don’t expect a praising report here…

I didn’t enjoy the match at all. It was not what I consider a high-quality match at all. Both players kept banging into each other and that’s not my idea of squash! From the first rally. And I mean the first rally, where Mohamed found himself on the floor. So many decisions, and both players spending a lot of time on the floor, blocked or pushed. Like I said, not my idea of squash.

I had the impression of watching two Mohamed El Shorbagy on court! One of 30+-something, who’s learned, and one of 22, who is learning. It was the same energy, the same style of squash, the same accuracy and movement. No wonder Mohamed praises Mostafa: he sees himself as a young, hungry player.

The ref kept warning Asal the whole match with delaying play. The whole match. Mohamed kept asking “let’s keep moving”, even to the court cleaners. Actually, I wondered if there was a way to have the two cleaners and their broom on the floor next to the tin to avoid wasting time with them coming in or out! Just stay on the court for the whole match!!!

It was over midnight when we started the match. And I left for the hotel, it was 2am. The temperature by that time had lost 1 degree, it was only 31°C and a very high humidity factor. The other factor was that Mohamed was sweating so much he kept having to change his socks, even during the game as he was leaving wet patches all over the glass floor – yes, the ASB glass FLOOR, remember, it’s a new flooring that dries much quicker than a normal wood surface.

To the point that he had to borrow Mostafa’s socks as he run out of them, at 2/0 in the 5th! I kid you not.

Back to the opener, not a great numbers of winners, 7 for Mostafa, 5 for Mo. It’s a 21m game, where Mo never had the lead, 3/1, 6/3, 7/7, 9/7 11/8 to Asal. As I mentioned, lots of decisions, lots of contacts, lots of discussions.

In the second, pretty much the same score wise, 2/0, 5/2, 8/4, 9/7 and 11/8 in 17m. Add to the previous state of affair, Mo complaining about the interaction between Asal and his coach, ending with the ref actually warning him about it. A decision every other rally.

The third is the most violent. Mohamed takes a great start, 4/0. Mostafa finds himself on the floor against and again in the middle of the game, which doesn’t prevent him of winning the rally. 6/6, 7/7. Change of shoes for Mohamed, Mostafa is still on the floor, 9/7, in a rugby rally, Mohamed comes back at 9/9.

From game ball 10/9 to 13/14, Mostafa’s second match ball, we had 4 video decisions. I KID YOU NOT. That’s 9 rallies. High-quality match?? SERIOUSLY??

Mohamed eventually clinches it, 16/14. 38m game. 8 winners for Mohamed, 10 for Asal.

The 4th is the only “calm” game, 9m, Mohamed dominating from 3/3 5/3, 7/4, 8/5, 11/6.

The fifth is so funny. Mostafa is pleading to have the time to change his shoes. Refused by the ref and Mohamed. 2/0 Asal. Mohamed makes a deal with Mostafa for a pair of socks. Off they both go at the back of the court. Would Mostafa then change his shoes? No. He comes back, one point later, is off again to change his shoes.

“Could I give him my socks” smiles Mohamed with the ref/crowd. Mohamed’s head is gone I feel. And it is. 13m game, 8/0, 11/2. Game over.

No Mohamed, it was not a high-quality squash match. Rugby maybe? Squash, it was not.

Mostafa : It was really difficult conditions. It’s all about sportmanship between me and Mohamed, we both lost a bit of control in the third game but I have so much respect for him, I’m playing my idol. I was here years ago, watching him and Greg, his coach, in the final. He’s the Beast for a reason.

It’s a lot of emotions. I was suspended for two months and now I’m in the final to defend my title. It was not my best season, despite reaching world No.1. Last season was much better but I was trying to get all my momentum for this tournament, its not done yet, I have a final tomorrow.

“I hope Ali enjoyed that, it’s now all about recovery. I’ll be with my friends tomorrow and I want to thank my coach for making me calm this week, and I want to thank my physio, who will stay up until 5am tonight with me. It’s an all-Egyptian final tomorrow so the winner will be under the Egyptian flag which I couldn’t be happier with.