QF :  Al Farag (Egy) 3-1  Mohamed Abouelghar (Egy) 6-11, 13-11, 11-8, 16-14 (59m)
I remember Abou in his World Junior Final in Qatar. So gifted. Sooo gifted. But too often, his impatience gets the better of him, and errors come galore.
But when he manages to keep the error count down, he is extremely dangerous, as his shots are so hard to read. And today, Ali – who didn’t seem himself for two games – had to dig in deep to overcome his compatriot.
It was such a weird Ali that came on court today. I was thinking “why are you playing that short? No length AT ALL. Why do you keep feeding him at the front, as his counterdrop is one of the best in the world.”
He didn’t hear me. Well, until the end of the 4th he didn’t. And that’s why the length of the match is not that impressive. With two long tie-breaks, four games are normally around 70, 75m mark. Ali, famous for his mid pace, patient, good height of shots, constructing his net – I call him Spiderman for a reason – was all over the place, and opening the court to his opponent again and again.
Zero error for Abou in the first, 9 winners, only 4 for Ali. 9/5, 11/6 in 9m.
Good reaction from Ali in the second, 4/1 5/2, but again, sublime shots coming from Abou, and Ali unable to contain the Bullet, 6/6, 9/9, game ball for Ali, one for Abou. This is crucial. 1/1 or 2/0, completely different game… and it will be 1/1, as the World number 1 takes it 13/11 in 16m. No error from Ali, 3 from Abou, 9 winners each…
Abou was comfy up in the 3rd, 3/1, 6/3, but he keeps taking time between the serves, looking drained to be honest. 6/7, he’ll make 2 errors, moves a bit slowly, and it’s 11/8 for Ali, who now leads 2/1.
Another where the Bullet is up and comfy, 5/2, 7/3, but Ali strings point and it’s 7/7. 8/8. 9/9. One match ball saved, 10/10. The tension is palpable and the crowd is supported their man. Abou gets his chance to force a decider at 11/10 but it was not to be, and despite Ali’s errors (2) at that point, the World number one gets to take it in 4, 16/14, 17m…
That was far too close for comfort…
"That is absolutely mind-boggling!"
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) December 16, 2020
I knew it was going to click for him at some point and I was hoping it wouldn’t be against me. It was very dead, it was very hard to hit to the back corners and then I had to start to use the lob but I had to also match him with the attacking shots which was very tough in the head.
To match his attacks is very tough but it is the way you have to play sometimes when the ball doesn’t help you. I am super pleased to be through and I can’t be more relieved really.
I was edgy, so I became desperate and went for shots too early. Even when they were on, I went with a nervy attack and it didn’t pay off. I am super glad that he gave me that loose shot at the end which gave me the stroke. All credit to him and I hate playing him for that reason!
I haven’t played at that level for quite a while so it felt good to be able to challenge those top guys again. But I think I might have left a chance slipped; Had I managed to close the second one, maybe I would have been able to breathe better, and it could have made the difference, I don’t know.He took a while to settle I felt, and I would have liked to capitalise on it. But he still played the big points better.In the third, I lost my length, and in the 4th, it was anybody’s really But the ball died and I was struggling to get the ball to the back. But in the end, he played better and that’s why he is world number one.But overall, I’m happy… Funny actually, I didn’t change much in my preparation, I actually did less! I had a great summer training in the summer, but when I got positive for the Pyramids, I focused on Qatar, and went back to training hard for it. But the result didn’t come, and I was really disappointed, so I thought, let’s take the foot off the gas, and it worked better than I actually expected, somehow, lowering the expectation I put on myself…