Ramy Ashour produced some of his best, most thrilling squash in Doha. On Saturday, fellow Ali Farag played his 60th world tour final and surpassed his great compatriot’s feat on the same court in winning a third Qatar Classic final.
Farag beat Diego Elias in a gripping final at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex. Ahead of the match, much had been made of the World No.1’s dominant 19-3 head-to-head record over World No.2 Elias, with the Peruvian’s sole win since 2017 coming when Farag was forced to retire hurt in the final of last season’s U.S. Open.
Despite the Egyptian’s superior record, it was Elias who started the opening game better, with the 26-year-old accurate at the front as he took the first five points of the final.
Farag responded by pushing up the court and flipped the momentum, taking ten of the next twelve points to earn three game balls at 10-7.
Elias then dug in well to save all three and force a tie-break, which Farag eventually converted to clinch a brutal 26-minute first game 15-13.
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The bruising finale of the first game appeared to have sapped the strength from Elias’ legs in the second, with the Peruvian struggling badly against Farag’s relentless pressing as the top seed doubled his lead with a comfortable 11-5 win.
Game three was a more even contest, with Elias moving far better than in the second.
Farag, who appeared to be closing in on a second title of the season at 8-5 up, then allowed Elias back into the contest, with the World No.1 making an uncharacteristic number of errors as a resurgent Elias forced his way into the contest with an 11-8 victory.
There were more worrying signs from Farag early in game four, with the Egyptian – who appeared fatigued – making more errors as Elias dominated play to take the first three points.
The 31-year-old, however, wrestled back the momentum, finding a second wind and going on the hunt as he wiped out ‘the Peruvian Puma’s’ lead before bringing a thrilling final to an end with an 11-9 win.
That win for Farag means that both the men’s and women’s titles are in Egyptian hands following Hania El Hammamy’s win against compatriot Nour El Sherbini yesterday.
Afterwards, Farag said: “I had to put in a world-class performance to be able to compete with Diego. He’s such a champion, the way he’s been playing these last couple of years.”
The Qatar Classic champion added a moving tribute to wife and women’s World No.8 Nour El Tayeb: “The one person I want to thank the most and is my inspiration every day is Nour.
“The way she juggles between being a great mother, a great wife, a great squash player, a great daughter and a great friend, everything is about her is admirable. I really am grateful to be with such a person day in and day out.”
Elias added: “I’m not very happy with the result, but I’m actually very happy with the way I ended up fighting at the end of the match.
“I’m just happy I’m getting closer and hopefully next time I get the title.”
For both Elias and Farag, attention turns to the Platinum-level US Open, which takes place between 7-14 October in Philadelphia’s Arlen Specter US Squash Center.
Result: QTerminals Qatar Classic – Men’s Final Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Diego Elias (PER) 3-1: 15-13, 11-5, 8-11, 11-9 (69m)