FINAL: Marwan ElShorbagy (Egy) 3-1  Fares Dessouky (Egy) 11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 14-12 (71m)
My hat to Nick Matthew and Mark Campbell.
Mark, for making Marwan a machine that can play Paul Coll for 96m in the quarters, Joel Makin for 69m in the semis, arrive for the final with a quads niggle with 100m more squash than his opponent in the legs, play a rugby tussle, and still win a 72m final.
And Nick for teaching Marwan how to pretend he was physically fresh as a rose, keeping the shoulders up no matter how much the pain, and most of all to spring up and up and up in the warm up – the way Nick was doing it for years. I could see what Marwan was doing during the warm up, showing Fares he was not tired, that it was going to be a tough one for him.
And it worked. I saw in Fares’ eyes the… well.. I was going to write fear. Maybe not fear but a worried face: how can he not be tired…. Marwan played it perfectly. Well done Nick… A match is won on attention to details in my book.
Fares on the other hand, showed pretty quickly he was tired. Not the same fatigue, probably the fatigue you get when you have beaten nearly all the top boys and that you are drained mentally. And instead of keeping the rallies going at the start, he went for too much: showing that he was not ready to battle too long, and Marwan saw it, and nourished himself on that.
First game, only 11m, people. That proves that Fares was not making the rallies long enough, as the number of errors, 5, plus giving away 2 strokes. Marwan only had to score 4 points. Which he nicely did, especially as he didn’t make a single error.
The second game was longer 18m, close the whole way. 6/6. 7/7. Marwan, as the clever tactician he is, knew that he need that game badly. He HAD to win it. So I could see him suddenly hitting the ball harder, faster, putting pressure on Fares at that point.
The players kept banging into each other, I had no idea where the ball was, where the players were going, not going, a lot of calls, reviewed, over turned, made me feel we were playing Russian roulette. I lost the plot, well, John Massarella had been removed from the final, hadn’t he… The calls were following each other, and I sincerely couldn’t understand what the heck was being done to squash on there.
So I gave up trying to understand. And just took notes. Writing comments about their movements, about the inadequacy of the decisions, but was I right or wrong in my analysis? I just don’t know. Finally, Marwan won that game on his second attempt, 11/9.
A great effort from Fares in the third, 13m game, 5/1, 6/2, 7/4. Again decisions that are given, overturned, and Fares’ lead melting like snow in front of the Pyramids, Fares taking one game back, 11/7.
After a change of ball – asked by Marwan – Fares kept the momentum going, although errors kept creeping up, giving Marwan the signal he was on the right path. 3/1 Fares, 5/3, 6/4, 7/5. Again, so many contacts, blocking each other, unblocking each other… Not the squash I fancy but that’s me.
At 7/7, Marwan got ahead. 9/7 but back at 9/9. Video decisions plethora, reviews, not up shots called good, it was all happening. And I kept taking notes… A bit like looking at the Titanic drowning from 2km away…. Not involved anymore…
Two game balls for Fares came and went, and Marwan closed the match on … a stroke, of course… 14/12, 24m last game.
And off went Marwan’s racquet in the crowd…
Mohamed Raef, Black Ball Club :It was an incredible match, thank you Marwan thank you Fares for your incredible performances.
Let me give a warm welcome to our Minister of Youth and Sports, but also, Dr Ashraf Sobhy, the President of the Egyptian Squash Federation, Mr Assem Khalifa, Mr Lee Beachill, Mr Ahmed Al Abd, Mr Ashraf Hanafy.
We just lived two weeks of incredible performances. It was truly and incredible tournament. I am really so happy with the atmosphere, and everything worked out more than perfectly. And first of all, I need to thank my team, for their great efforts, and as usual, they achieve greatness.
I want to thank all the sponsors, Memaar Almorshedy, Elsewedy Electric, Alter Sports Wear, Concord, and CIB, our main partner. CIB, our principal sponsor, and a special thank you to Hussein Abaza, who has done a fantastic job for squash not only in Egypt, but on the PSA World Tour as well.
I’ll hope to see you soon Insha’Allah. Personal note to my team, you have 48h hours to rest, and back to work on the next event 😊
Ashraf Hanafi : This event will stay in our memories as a special tournament. The CIB BlackBall is now famous for offering unexpected results and surprises: this time again, the world number 1 fell in the quarters, so did the world number 2, and the number 4. And we have no top seeds in the final, which was an unbelievable level of squash.
Just for the records, we organised 7 events so far. And we have different winners each time. Nobody won the event twice! Congratulations to all of them.
And this last battle was not only a battle for this event, but also a battle for who is going to become the future world number 1, and it’s a big warning for the actual number one…
On top of what Mr Raef said, we thank PSA and Squash TV, the commentators Lisa, Joey and Lee. We enjoyed your commentaries, and believe me, you have been listened by millions of spectators in Egypt thanks to Ontime Sport.
Hard luck for Fares, he beat all the champion but lost in the final, and congratulation to Shorbagy, I think it was a very good tournament, and I hope we’ll do even better next time
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 25, 2021
“I went through a lot before this event. To be able to back up the quarter-final match against Paul and to be able to win the semis and the final, it means a lot to me. It wasn’t just about playing a great match against Paul, it was all about backing it up.
“The next day I told my team that I was going to win this event and I’m so proud of how I’ve handled things this week. There were no days off and I’ve had a very tough morning. I want to thank [PSA Physio] Derek Ryan because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to play this match because I had a small injury this morning.
“But because of his help I was so confident that I could finish the match and win it, so I want to thank him for all the effort he has put in for me.
“I think me and Fares could be World No.1 and World No.2 one day. The way we’ve been playing is different and we’ve both been playing really well. The way he is playing is quite inspiring, he could be changing the game. I enjoy watching him but I don’t enjoy playing him.
“A special thanks to Haitham Effat, you’re not just a coach, you’re a big brother to me. As Fares said, we’re being coached by the same coach, Ahmed Effat, who is 25 years of age and both of his players are in the final today. I also appreciate him in my life.
“Danny Massaro, mentally he got me ready for this event and he knew exactly what I was going through all week, so I really want to thank him for everything he has done for me. Mark Campbell, I played five matches in a row and a lot of minutes, and he’s the reason why I could back it up the way I did.
“Finally, Nick Matthew. He’s one of the greatest players of all time. Tactically and mentally, the way he prepares me for my matches is unique and I really admire him. My parents who are here too and my brother, I called him as soon as I finished.
“My target is to try and win the British Open and World Championship in July. To get to World No.1 is a dream and I’m working on a daily basis to achieve that.”