R3:  Ali Farag (Egy) 3-1 Mostafa Asal (Egy) 6-11, 11-3, 11-2, 11-8 (60m)
Exuberance, 1, Experience, 3.
Like I wrote several times, I love the player Mostafa is going to become. He still needs to work on a few things, may I remind you he is only 19 years old…
First game, so much energy bursting off everywhere. Far too excited, far too intense. But then again, why shouldn’t he? I remember him playing Ali Farag here, three years ago, it was his idol and he didn’t make his mark then. Then he played him, again, and again in the past months, and “il prend de l’étoffe”, he is getting stronger, more authority in his squash. Why shouldn’t he show when he is happy to win?
So celebrated he did after taking the 16m first game, despite making a few too many errors, 4 I counted, 1 Ali. From 6/6, some superb intense exchanges between those two, and it’s Mostafa the whole way till 11/6.
But then you don’t get to world number 1 if you don’t know how to handle young guns. And patiently, shot per shot, Ali found a better length, better width, slowed down the pace and frustrated the heck out of the young man. Chatting with the ref, arguing, losing focus, Mostafa was losing his focus, and Farag was just getting on.. .
At 8/3, Mostafa asked for a let, got a no let, and was not happy once again. That’s when he heard Mr Mahmood, his dad, deep voice, telling him off, that he should get his brain back on the game. Mostafa, “penaud”, “sheepish”, left the court a few seconds later, 11/3, looking at his dad, with a gesture as to say “wait, OK, I got it, sorry”.
That game was 10m. the next one, for 11/2 was 13m. So the score doesn’t tell the story, does it, 7/0, 11/2, but hard work produced, in alternance with short tins… Long rallies, then a tin. 6 of them, plus a stroke, that’s 7 points given…
Last game, higher quality, 17m, Mostafa reducing his errors by 50%, very close 4/4, 5/5, and if Ali took a good lead 8/5, 9/6, a good last effort from the young Ragging Ball, back at 8/9. The world number one ending the lesson 11/8.
He is getting there, our little Mostafa. He is getting there…
Ali: “It was very bitty, especially at the beginning of the third. There were a lot of referee’s decisions, there was no malice from either of us but it was just the way it was. It was tough, I want to play rallies and put some long rallies into him so it wasn’t easy with the stop-start. Very happy after I started off loose again today, my shots weren’t hitting targets at all, but then after the first, I regrouped well and hit my marks a lot better.
“First of all, I shouldn’t show that I am frustrated, but also, looking at this draw. Playing [Mohamed] Abouelghar in the first round and then potentially either Mostafa or Declan James in the second round, I knew I had a tough task at hand. I keep telling Nour [El Tayeb, Farag’s wife] that I haven’t lost before the quarter-finals since El Gouna in 2017 so I didn’t want to break that record here. That was the first goal of the tournament and now that is done, it is time to focus on the quarters.
“Fares [Dessouky] has been on a roll, especially on this court. He has beaten so many top players and we saw again today how well he played. It will be a tough one but I am definitely looking forward to it.”
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 22, 2021