R2:  Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-2  Paul Coll (Nzl) 6-11, 11-8, 11-3, 4-11, 11-8 (85m)
Incredible match. I actually forgot to breathe several times, like in the times of Ramy/Mohamed. Yes. That good.
If I was Mostafa, I would send flowers, chocolates and more to John Massarella. Today, John managed to keep Mostafa in line, especially in the first game, as he was going a bit wild – hitting his opponent with the ball on the second rally was not a good start.
But thanks to a strict “no bull” from John, the young Raging Bull very quickly stopped staying in the way, stopped asking for easy lets/stroke, and squash was the winner really. I know John gets a lot of s… from the social media, sometimes, they should start looking at what he is doing forking well.
Interesting to note that Paul didn’t make a single error in the first two games. That’s 30m game people. Mostafa did a lot of them in the opener, too excited, going for too much too soon, his exuberance not serving him, and he lost it 11/6 in 14m.
He then settled down, probably realising that he didn’t have to PROVE he could beat Paul this time, he just had to CONFIRM he could beat him. And he accepted the physical challenge, the endurance challenge, the patience challenge that the Kiwi presented to him.
The second game will be probably why Superman will kick himself. He was truly in control there, 5/2, 6/3. Back to 6/6, Paul up 8/6, but from 8/8, asking for the support of the crowd – and getting it too – Mostafa grinds to 11/8, only 1 error from him this game, 14m.
Third game, very weird from Paul, error on the second point, then from 2/4 down, three tins in a row. So uncharacteristic. No winners at all for Paul on this one, and now many more for Asal, only 4, Paul having had the courtesy to offer him 7 points (4 UE plus 3 strokes). 9m.
‘Anything you can do I can do better’, Paul reassesses and takes the next game 11/4 in 13m, back to his 0 error, 4 winners both, this time it’s Mostafa giving away the sweets, 7 of them!
A ridiculous rally, 4m and 41s, of backhand drives mostly, like I said, Mostafa accepting the patience challenge, ending with a let, contested by the Egyptian, losing his review at 1/0. Good move…
1/1. 2/2, 4/4. Paul is leading by a whisker, 6/4, 7/5, but again, making a few uncharacteristic errors, 8/6, the Egyptian finding the tin as well (4 errors each actually)
But at 8/8, it was like Mostafa felt he couldn’t lose. Asking the crowd to be involved, carried by them, he forced another error from Paul, 10/8.
A video decision, ball is let. The crowd is boiling. A last winner from Asal, and it’s 11/8, the last game alone was 24m…
And yes, Mostafa took the shirt off but didn’t send it to the crowd this time…
You know, today, I thought the match would go his way. After the way he played in Qatar, only Ali Farag could stop him, he was playing the best ever, so I didn’t think I was going to win. And I was thinking about tomorrow, resting for Christmas, and maybe going to Gouna for a break. All that while playing, there were a lot in my mind!
I played and when I took the second game, I started to play my game and enjoy it – that’s the main point. My dad said to me ‘enjoy it’, so to enjoy the squash you play awesome.
And something strange. When I play a top 50, 60, I’m always thinking about my physicality, and trying to save energy I guess. But when I play Paul, he is the best in the world for physicality, and I just don’t think about it. I just forget about that, and focus on my squash.
I want to thank this amazing crowd, it’s something unbelievable for me to play in my home country – I want to thank them all.