R2: [9/16] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-0 Declan James (Eng) 11-9, 14-12, 11-7 (50m)
Mostafa Asal gets the better of three close, intense games against Declan James …
I know what the social media are going to say… Ref had it in for Mostafa…
Well, if you want my two cents worth – I guess that’s why you are reading this – no, he had a couple of bad decisions at a crucial time after refereeing 60 odd matches in 8 days…
Mostafa used to block BIG TIME a few years ago. But he now has trimmed down – thanks to Derek Ryan’s input on the fitness side of things – and doesn’t need to block anymore to win rallies.
And yes today, I saw a couple of times where Mostafa was not exactly helping Declan to move to the ball, but seriously, nothing bad at all. And not at the end of that second game that I guess a few people are going to wonder around.
Game one pretty close, thanks to a few errors too many from an under pressure young Egyptian – he does that to himself… Declan, who had been beaten here 3/2 2 years ago when Mostafa was just a young prospect, knew what to expect, and knew how to beat him – 3/0 in DPD a few weeks after.
Mostafa managing to get away at 6/3, but like I said, 5 errors in a short time and we are level till the end of the game, 7/7, 8/8, 9/9, a drive forehand that wrong foots the Englishman, then his first tin of the match on game ball – I kid you not – 11/9 in 16m.
Second game, surreal game. Mostafa is now in complete control, 6/2, 10/4, game ball. Couple of errors, some excellent deep game from Declan, 7/10.
There, the English mentions that he was not happy with his opponent’s movement, the ref agree, and gave a stroke, then a no let, and here we now are at 10/10.
Mostafa is refused to go to wipe his hand for the second time at that point, as he was at 10/5. “I can judge if it’s needed, or if it’s just tactical, and I think it is tactical,” says the ref.
Then a good serve from the Egyptian, not up is the return of serve he thinks, and stops playing. “You stopped playing, you conceded the point,” says the Ref, 11/10 game ball Declan.
A huge winner, and an even huger shout, 11/11, and Mostafa gets penalised a conduct stroke for taking his opponent out – I personally didn’t see it… Finally, Mostafa will get a 7th game ball at 13/12, and wait for it, Declan second error of the match, again on game ball. 17m.
The third is all Mostafa. A little shock between them at 4/1 where both players are on their back – nothing wrong from anybody says the ref, it was an accident, agreed methinks. 6/1, 7/2, 8/3.
A beautiful last push from Declan, 6/8. But the Gods of Squash are looking after Raging Bull, a broken string, that’s 30s rest for the Egyptian although he didn’t stretch the exit, and four very quick points, 11/6 stroke 7/10, you guess… an error from Declan (only his 4th of the match).
Mostafa : “I’m going to retire after this match!
“It was an unbelievable game today mentally and physically.
I didn’t need all of these discussions and situations that I entered in the game. In the second game I was 10-4 up and I should have finished the game earlier than that.
“I’m happy to go through and I’m happy to be with this amazing crowd again and again. I’m sure I’m going to move forward, it’s my first match and there are still more to come. They were really tough decisions today, I was unhappy with them in the game, but I’m learning about these situations and I’m not going to say that I want a let again.
I play Ali or Mohamed next – both are my friends and we’re going to watch a huge battle today. It’s a first round match for them and it will be very tough.
“I’m going to get my popcorn and watch this match. It will be salt flavoured because of the diet and nutrition!”
🎙️ "It's an unbelievable game today, mentally and physically. There were tough decisions and I was unhappy but I'm learning."
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 20, 2021