Mohamed ElShorbagy (Egy) 2-1  Ali Farag (Egy) 11-8, 8-11, 13-11 (64m)
Absolutely incredible: Ali lost 13/11 in 64m to both Bagies brothers. What are the odds? Pretty high I would say…
No, I didn’t go and talk to Ali as I normally do, have a few words with the non winner. When you lose two matches in a row and you might lose your world number 1 status because of that, the words you are saying out loud are probably not good for my chaste ears…
So much at stake on that match. First, if Ali lost two matches here and Mohamed won the event, Mohamed would be back at number one. Plus of course, all those months where the Boss wouldn’t play in Egypt for administrative reasons, and where he couldn’t defend his ranking as well as he would have wanted. Not to mention a few others elements that would be too long to enumerate…
As often, and we saw it as well with the match Mostafa/Marwan, it’s so much more comfortable/easy to chase for the top spot than defend that same spot. And tonight, I felt at times that Ali was defending more than taking the game to his opponent. Apart from the start of the third, 4/1 down, and back against the wall, he seemed to find his targets in the front corner beautifully.
Tonight, it was about who wanted it more. In my opinion, for all those reasons, Mohamed did.
But go on, rewind, you know you want to.
Game one, Ali seems in control, just a couple of point ahead after a very close start of the game, 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 7/5, 8/6. But the Harvard proud graduate was not to score another point, Mohamed stringing 5 points 11/8, 8 winners, only 3 for Ali, 20m game.
The second we see Mohamed having the same drop of energy than he had the day before against Mostafa, making three errors in a row at the start of the game, down 5/2. And even if he levels 5/5, Ali is pretty fluid out there, 8/5, 9/6, 11/8 in 13m. 5 points given away by Mohamed (1 stroke and 4 errors).
The third is intense as it comes, Mohamed cruising 4/1, 5/2, making a couple of errors at that point, 5/5, Mo up 7/5, Ali levelling 7/7, 8/8, 9/9.
A stroke to Ali – Mohamed fuming, match ball 10/9. Another stroke for about the same situation, Ali not impressed, 10/10. A winner for Mohamed, beautiful slide across the tin, 11/10, match ball. Stroke to Ali 11/11.
A big moment as Ali is going to pick up a drop shot on the front left, hit in the chin, no let says video ref, 12/11, second match ball for Mohamed, a stroke to finish as Ali slips on the floor, 13/11, 28m last game.
9 winners for Mohamed in that closing game, 6 for Ali.
Extremely high quality match, huge respect between the players, even banging their fists after an extremely high pace/intense rally. Loved it.
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) June 23, 2021
“I’ve known Darwish since I was a player and I played with him a few times, he’s one of the most professional people I’ve met, he sent one of his people, Karim Ibrahim, who was with me from the first second and making sure I was fine so I could come and give some great matches to the people of Egypt.
“We have been the best two players in the world for the last four or five years. We’ve been great rivals to each other, it’s been going back and forth between us, but it was hard for me to watch him winning all these titles while I was away and I’m sure if he had have been in my position then it would have been hard for him too.
“I’m really hungry to be back to the throne this year. It’s all I think about, every single day, I want to go back to World No.1 – my hunger is always to be the best player in the world and to do that I need to beat all the players and consistently, not just one tournament but the whole year. I want to be back so badly, it’s what I train for, it’s what I live for and my dream since I was a kid. Even if I was coming back with one eye today, I would have killed myself to win. I’m a warrior on court and that’s what people don’t get sometimes, I will always fight on court.”