R3:  Mohamed ElShorbagy (Egy) 3-0 Saurav Ghosal (Ind) 12-10, 11-9, 11-2 (49m)
I was very surprised to hear Saurav saying that Mohamed was very focused from the first rally. I thought he was extremely nervous. Two quick errors to start the match, also picking up a little piece of material that dropped off Saurav’s shirt and complaining about it, demanding that the Indian change his shirt as it was dangerous for him. That’s the kind of things he does when nervous. When not comfortable. When very tense.
And it went on, he was shouting after every single point from 1/3 onwards, for three or four rallies. Then two errors. Then giving Saurav a let whereas he could have taking a stroke as he hit him on the way to the front wall. All those signs that he was not in the match yet, in my humble opinion that is.
The game went on neck to neck, 6/6, 7/7, 8/8, then game ball, 10/8. Two superb rallies, Saurav playing the best squash of his life, 10/10. And it would take another game ball for Mohamed to finally close it 12/10, 24m. That’s a lot of work.
4 errors for the Egyptian, only 1 for Saurav.
The second, again Mohamed very intense, turning to his mum after the first few points, as if to dig within her energy. Then he criticised with a smile the AC of the Club, then had another friendly moment with Saurav as the Indian found another exquisite slide along the tin, he threw him his racquet, with a huge smile. Again, so strange from Mohamed in the middle of an intense match!
The second, again very close, 2/2, 3/3, 5/5. Then Mohamed just the nose, but just the nose in front, one point ahead. And from 10/7, Saurav very threatening again, playing out of his skin, only one error against the whole game, 4 for Mohamed, who finally closes that crucial second, 11/9 in 16m.
Finally the third sees Mohamed relaxing and playing fast and furious squash, 9/1, 11/2…
Saurav: I feel I’m playing OK. I was happy with my first two games. The third, he took full advantage of the dead ball, he used his vast experience to do that, and it became a shoot out, not that I didn’t see it coming!
I think I deserved one of the first two games, the difference would have been enormous, from 2/0 to him, to 1/1 all, or even, 2/0 for me… But the hard work produced is what you have to do against somebody of Mohamed’s calibre.
He is so focus this week and from the first rally of the match, he was full on, when he is like that, it’s so hard to break him down.
I have to make sure I convert the chances I get, although I’m happy that I was able to compete again. I got injured in Qatar, and something that should have taken a couple of weeks to get better took 12 weeks!
So positive is I played yesterday and today, pain free, no discomfort, thanks to Derek here and the physios back home…
Mohamed: “Saurav always plays well against me, even though our head-to-head is crazy in my favour. I think the last time I lost to him was in 2008, which is a crazy record to have against someone with the calibre of him. The last two games we had we went to a tie-break in the fifth and then a tie-break in the third so I knew I had to dig in deep in the first two games and win those big crucial points, which I did, and I am thankful for that.”
“I always believe the top players have to deal with all types of conditions, and they find a way to win. Whether it is hot, it is humid, it is cold, I have played in all sorts of conditions throughout my career, I have won in all sorts of conditions throughout my career, I have lost in all sorts of conditions throughout my career.
“It might be slightly difficult but it is the same for everyone so there is no excuse. I am just happy to win and I look forward to being in the quarters.
“Joel, we train together in England. He lives in Birmingham, I live in Bristol, just an hour, hour and a half from each other. We play with each other twice a week so we know each other’s games very well.
“He knows what I am going to do tomorrow, I know what he is going to do tomorrow, so I do think that whoever will get it right on the day will win. He has had a big win against me before, every win I have against him is a big win, so I look forward to playing against him.”
🗣 "Saurav always plays well against me even though the head-to-head record is crazy in my favour."@MoElshorbagy gives his verdict on his @BlackBallSquash victory over @SauravGhosal 🎥#BlackBallOpen pic.twitter.com/AgrMRS5Jlk
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 22, 2021