Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-1  Mohamed ElShorbagy (Egy 12-14, 11-4, 11-7, 11-3 (70m)
Incredibly, their pool match was the first men’s match of the event. And it was the last. The coincidence doesn’t stop there: in both matches, the first game was 30m, won by Mohamed. And the second one, Mohamed was tired in their first match, made 5 errors, like today. And like today, their game was 14m.
But the resemblance stops there unfortunately for Mohamed.
After an extremely tiring first game, with Mostafa just his nose ahead with a couple of points the whole game, it’s was nailbiting finish, 8/8, 9/9.
First game ball to Mostafa, 10/9, then another one at 11/10, another one 12/11, every time Mohamed saving the day. Long, very long rallies, on the backhand, exactly like in their first match, and it’s finally Mohamed that closes that game 14/12 thanks to an error from Mostafa.
Mostafa gave away 8 points in that opener (6 errors, 2 strokes), it was 7 for Mohamed though (3 errors, 4 strokes).
Despite the fast we played another three games, Mohamed was just gone. Looking pale, drained, I truly thought he was ill – as he arrived a bit late on court thanks to a visit to the toilets. He was not running, he was doing the minimum in the next two games to try and save energy, get his second wind… which never came.
He kept looking at his mum, with his arms saying “I just can’t push, I have nothing”.
Mostafa played a perfect second and third game, not a single error. Second, 11/4.
Getting to the finishing line in the 3rd, 7/2, he went a bit wild and decided to fly from side to side Paul Coll style. “you are going to hurt yourself” his dad went. Mohamed was calm, so calm, managing to win a few points in the front corners, but Mostafa was too strong all over the court, 9/5, 11/7 in 11m.
Last game, Mohamed couldn’t even try anymore and it’s was 11/3 in 7m.
No celebration, a simple embrace. “Passage de témoin?” “passing of the baton ???
A new superstar is born in our sport! I hope people start appreciating the talent Mostafa has as much as I do! Proud that his first ever big title was against me as I am sure it will be the first of many more. Can’t wait to be a part of his journey for next few years.
“I can’t believe I’ve played with someone that I’ve always looked up to”
“He’s a legend, he’s my No.1, he’s an idol – everything. I cannot celebrate against him, something special for me. It’s really tough for me, since I was 10-years-old, I went with my friends and cheered for him at every tournament. Something unbelievable for me, Mohamed will be No.1 soon, I can’t describe my feelings. I want to thank the tournament, Karim Darwish and all of the crowd.
“He said to me celebrate as you want. It’s your time and I know it’s going to happen one day. I came here to enjoy myself, in front of my friends, in my country, in front of my city. To play this tournament is something unbelievable to me and to play against the World No.1, World No.2, World No.3, World No.5 is a dream come true.
“I was coming here to enjoy myself, the year before I was coming to watch this tournament. I’m really pleased to play it and then win it.”