SF : ElShorbagy 3-1 Dessouky

SF [1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-1 [6] Fares Dessouky (Egy)      11-6, 11-9, 8-11, 11-6 (69m)

Let me tell you something. Last night, by the time I finished my reports, it was 3am. Because of the adrenalin of the mad,mad,mad evening we all lived, at 5am, I was still awake. And today, I am flat as a crêpe. No butter on it, no sugar, nowt.

So I dread to imagine what Fares felt today. I didn’t have to play, I only had to watch and feel the emotions. He waited, didn’t know if he was going to play in the glass or at the club, then run, fought, was losing in a very intense and under scrutiny match, had a ref who preferred to go to hospital than referee his match (kidding of COURSE, Ralf is fine back with us at the hotel), he clawed back to win the match the next day he started it!!!

And let’s put it plainly, today, he was flatter than I am. He was half a crêpe.

Meanwhile Mohamed didn’t have an easy night either, he match delayed by 78m, he played on a court he hadn’t play on for what, 3 years, against Joel Makin – not physical AT ALL, easy, NOT. But today, Mohamed seemed very focused and hungry.

To fight against the hot conditions, he had asked for a little cooler to be brought next to his seat, with I guess ice in it. And between games he was using a towel that he was plunging into icy water to lower his body temperature.

And in the opener, he looked really comfortable. Fares was trying his best, but despite his dad’s loud support, he was always on the backfoot and bows 11/4 in 14m, 4 errors, 1 for Mohamed.

Mohamed is flying in the second, 6/1, 8/3. But out of nowhere, the body of Fares seems to start moving a bit better, and he accepts the physical challenge offered by his opponent, and it will take Mohamed 4 game balls and 19m efforts to close the second game, 11/9.
4 errors from Mohamed, only 3 winners, Fares 6 errors, 5 winners.

Keeping the same momentum, Fares manages to force Mohamed out of his comfort zone, and to make him doubt, from 5/8 down, he scores 6 points in a row and takes the third, 11/8 in 16m.

2 errors from Mohamed, and again 3 winners, 5 errors for Fares, 9 winners.

The last game’s score doesn’t tell the story as the emotions are running high. At the start of the game, 3/2, Fares asks for having a cut on his finger looked at. Will follow a saga of “please I’m bleeding”, “there is not enough blood running to stop”, “can we have the physio” (who never came), “I’m bleeding”, “please keep the rallies going”….

Fares will be warned officially of time wasting at 8/5. A huge rally at the point, Mohamed clapping his opponent superb winner. Another huge rally at 10/6, Fares still believing he can force a decider, but it’s finally Mohamed in 4, 11/6 in 15m.

Mohamed :
“I put in a lot of hard work the last period,”

“I haven’t played all the tournaments in Egypt for the last year for different reasons and to watch all of them play was hard for me.

All of them competing, while I’m away at home, knowing I’m fresh, knowing I can compete but being forced not to play was very tough for me. Tough mentally.

Hadrian Stiff back in Bristol has taken so much from me because it was such a tough period but to be back here and back doing what I love most, to come back to where I belong, I think I belong in finals and to be back there again is quite emotional for me.

“I’m born to win titles, I believe so much in myself from day one.

I actually made a phone call before this season started to Ramy – we’ve been rivals for so many years and we had different journeys but I had a similar part last year where I couldn’t compete and if someone knows how that feels it’s Ramy, so I called him and asked for help and what to do, I’m struggling here mentally and his words to me “you’re not behind, they’re the ones behind you”, so Ramy has helped me so much mentally. I can’t wait to finish the tournament so I can have a chat with him. We played an amazing match on this court, so every time I come back to this court it brings back memories.

“It was hot and humid and it’s brutal conditions. This is the hardest conditions to play at besides playing at altitude. I felt that I have so much experience at playing in these conditions and he had a tough match yesterday, I had a tough match as well, but I have more experience.

Most of the ones who had a good start are the ones who won all their matches, so I had to learn quickly what was happening. You put your tactics together before a match but when you watch the matches before you, you learn a lot.

Paul gave a masterclass really, the way he won gave me a lot of motivation to play well as well. Sometimes your rival motivates you to play better.”