R1: MoElShorbagy 2-1 Asal

MA   [5] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Egy) 2-1 [7] Mostafa Asal (Egy)         11-8, 7-11, 11-8 (93m*)

No, it wasn’t 93m long… It was shorter than that… not much I agree, probably 20m less thanks to a long stoppage in the third at 5-3 for Mohamed, as accidentally, Mostafa hit Mohamed with his elbow about the eye and opened it.

The Boss tried to keep playing but the bleeding was just too important and he was given 3 minutes to sort himself out. Respectfully, Mohamed went “Captain Nasser, it was an accident he hit me with the elbow two rallies ago”, and the ref corrected immediately the call, giving Mohamed 15m and that if he needed more time, another 15m would be given to him to stop the bleeding.

But, let’s rewind…

Those two hadn’t played officially on PSA but only once in an exhibition in Pakistan back in Feb, and the youngster had beaten the former World Number 1 3/2. Also, they had been training a few times since Gouna and sort of knew what to expect of each other.

The opener showed how mature Mostafa, only 20, already is. Keeping the ball going and going, accepting to rally at the medium/slow pace imposed by Mohamed, the youngster led the whole game, 5/3, 8/6, only to see his little lead melt 6/6, 8/8. Two huge rallies, yet again at the point, ending by two no lets, and a return of serve in the tin, Mohamed takes the 30m first game.

Stats: Mostafa gave four points away (3 errors, a stroke) but still scored 8 winners, only 7 for his opponent, no a single error from Mohamed. Impressive.

The second saw Ragging Bull walk away with the game, 7/2, 9/3, 10/4 game ball. Finding his second wind, Mohamed made sure his opponent knew he was going to have to take the match away from him, that he was not giving it away for free, saving three game balls, bowing 11/7 in 13m.

Completely different stats: 7 points given away by Mohamed (5 errors and 2 strokes) still, 7 winners for him, and only 4 winners for Mostafa…

The hard work produced started to show in Mostafa’s loss of accuracy in the third, making 4 errors in 6 points. That’s when we stopped for a while.

The physio patched Mohamed up but it was advised to Mohamed to go to hospital. He really didn’t want to have stiches and then come back, so he just played on, looking like the Rugby players after a long match and a lot of scrums, plaster all around the forehead and on the eye.

Having lost a bit of focus during the stoppage, Mostafa was not able to come back to his better level of squash, and at 10/5, match ball, it looked like it was all over. But as the blood started to impair his vision, Mohamed struggled for three points (giving away two errors and a stroke). But the last point was a clear stroke for the Alexandria King, 11/8.

47m recorded last game, but I would say about 15 to 20m stoppage…

Mostafa : (on twitter)

Unfortunately, I stumbled against Moh.El-Shorbagy the world NO.2, in my first match in CIB PSA World Tour Finals 2020-21, with a score of 2 for Moh. against 1 for me. Thanks God anyway 🙏

It’s not the end, I’ll do my best to win the next match.

Mohamed : 

I think we played a high quality match. The first game was very very tough. It was a Nick Matthew Shorbagy match you know, a typical Matthew/Shorbagy first game but he responded better in the second.

The few errors I did in the middle of the second game is the result of the work we did in the first game. I thought I was making him pay but in fact, he was making me pay! Plus, he changed his game, volleyed more, and he didn’t allow me to slow the ball down, which was very clever of him to be honest. It shows his brain is working al the time.

He is very mature, he reminds me a lot of myself when I was his age, you know. He did to me what I used to do to Nick you know. It was interesting, and the first of many many battles. It’s going to be a new rivalry and I’m very excited about it.

The third in the third was a complete accident, he didn’t mean anything, I know that. The match was played fair and in good spirit, a complete accident like I said. I wanted to carry on and not go to the hospital to get stiches as I definitely didn’t want to come back after the game. The physio did an amazing job to get me sorted.

When he came down I could see he had softened down. I could see that in his face. He was softer, lost a bit of focus. I’m much more experienced in that kind of situation – not being hit but for the stoppage.

At 10/5, the blood started to come into my eye, so I was seeing blurry a bit and I was just waiting for me to give me an error! And thank God, he gave it to me!

He is a super, super star of our sport. He will take on the sport at some point, I’m happy to go on court with him before I finish, because it’s the kind of matches I will remember for the rest of my life as he will run the sport one day.

He is such a nice boy, I know him of court, he is such a nice guy, people don’t know him, he is one of the nicest guys I know on tour. It really annoys me when people talk badly about him on social media because they just don’t know him.

I will always be one of his fans, I know he is a great squash player, and he is going to dominate the sport at some point.