SF: Mostafa 3-0 Karim

[4] Mostafa Asal (EGY) 3-0 [5] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)  11-6, 11-8, 11-8 (54m)

Like last year, instead of my normal seat on the extreme left – you might not be aware I have been tested with autism traits, habits are a crucial part of my functioning – I was placed in the middle – between the parents. It’s a ‘number of chairs’ thing…

The Asals and the Abdelgawads have two very different ways of supporting their man. Mahmood and Mona Asal encourage their son at every single point, one with “Mostafa” and the other with “Asal”, talking to their boy at every shot. On the other hand, Farah Bendary, Karim’s wife, is just vocal when she feels her man needs it, and the same goes for Omar Abdel Aziz, Karim’s coach.

But quite civilised, I have to stress. Mahmood, who used to scare the sh out of me, is now a normal dad, and I have to say, that’s making my watching/reporting matches much easier.

I feel Karim would have needed a day off. Not physically as much as mentally. He was driving nicely under the radar, but suddenly, all eyes were on him after his performance against Paul. He didn’t have the time, in my opinion, to be mentally fit for another big upset!

Mostafa today, a bit like Nouran against Gina, had all the answers. 2/2, 3/3, and from that point on, Mostafa is putting so much pressure on Karim by retrieving everything under the lights, 9/5, 11/6. The score doesn’t look that impressive but it’ still 15m work!

Karim gave away 4 points, 5 winners, only one point given for Mostafa, 7 winners.

In the second, Karim changes tactics. Instead of going for shot very fast, he lengthens the rallies, making it gruelling for them both. It looks like it might be working for the Smiling Assassin, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 7/7, 8/8. But if Karim was calling the shots up to then, Mostafa takes over at the end of the game, and it’s 11/8.

19m game.. 4 winners for Karim, 8 for Mostafa.

Knowing Karim as he knows him and his ability to come back from 2/0 and take the match, Mostafa is on his guard. 1/1. 2/2. 3/3. 4/4. The rallies are getting madder and madder. 5/5. At that point, Mostafa goes for a bit of the old naughty, saying that Karim prevented his shot. The video shows there was no or very little contact.

Then a bit of fun with the ref getting lost with Mostafa appeals “GOOD” given to 2 Karim’s shots. The ref first say it’s the back left, then back right, left again. Then Karim asks which one he is appealing. Both replies the ref. “He’s got only one review” stresses Karim. “OK, only one then”.

Are you confused? I’m confused.

Anyway, ball is called good, 6/6. A nice block from Mostafa, he is penalised accordingly. 7/7. The pace is going faster again, and Mostafa gets his first match ball at 10/7, closing the game and match 11/8, with a superb length drive that dies nicely.

16m last game… Mostafa conceded 3 strokes, no errors, Karim conceded one stroke, made one error. 9 winners Mostafa, 4 winners for Karim.

Ali awaits. Again. Second final in a week…


“I’m over the moon to reach back to back finals. I’ve never dreamed of how quickly you can change and I have changed. I’ve done lots of work, credit to all my team, especially James Willstrop, but all of the guys it’s just amazing to play like this and be in Platinum finals, winning a Gold event is just amazing.

“Thankfully, it comes with me and I’m finding the right balance. The aggression is coming; in other tournaments before Black Ball, or at Black Ball a little bit, the aggression, the power wasn’t there.

“Credit to them and everyone’s who’s been with me.

“To play against Karim, he’s an idol for me and he’s the only player I played with when I was young who agreed to play with me. To play against him and to see him playing his best since the injury, I’m proud of him and I want to thank him for everything he did for me. I grew up on his hands, we trained a lot even on the north coast for summer trips. He’s an amazing guy and what he did against Paul in the quarter-final is unbelievable.”

On the final against Ali Farag:

“I love to be the underdog, always. Ali’s an amazing character and player as well on and off court. It was a really good match in Black Ball, and hopefully it will be a repeat. Win or lose, hopefully it’s a great show tomorrow.”