Asal bursts into Black Ball semi-finals to meet top seed Farag
By SEAN REUTHE – Squash Mad Correspondent
Egypt’s World No.14 Mostafa Asal made it back-to-back wins over higher-ranked opposition as he followed up last night’s victory over World No.4 Paul Coll with a comfortable 3-0 win against World No.10 Miguel Rodriguez to reach the semi-finals of the men’s CIB Black Ball Squash Open.
Asal made headlines yet again after toppling New Zealand’s Coll in a climactic five-game battle in the previous round, after which he ripped off his shirt in celebration just as he did when he beat the Kiwi in October’s CIB Egyptian Open in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
The shirt stayed on this time around as the 19-year-old cut a more measured figure after playing some mesmerising squash to complete an 11-4, 11-9, 11-6 victory over Rodriguez, which will see him take on World No.1 Ali Farag in the last four.
“I was pretty okay today, I was playing well,” Asal said. “Miguel is an unbelievable player and he gets every ball. I thought that it would go to the fourth if he took two more points [in the third] because it would be 6-0, but I’m glad to move through with this performance.
“I’m training all of these shots, so I have the variety to go for it. I’m happy that I have the game in the back and the short game, and I’m grateful for this crowd as well, they were unbelievable.”
Farag cut a relieved man as he walked off court following a hard-fought 3-1 victory over fellow Egyptian Mohamed Abouelghar.
Farag had suffered a surprise defeat to the World No.12 at last year’s Grasshopper Cup and was troubled again by his compatriot, who played some immaculate squash to take a one-game lead. However, Farag proved why he is the world’s leading player at present as he put in a battling performance to win the next three games, including two tie-breaks.
“[I was] nervy all the way through, not only early on,” Farag said. “This is what he does to you. He hasn’t been having the best of years but if you see the way he puts in the work, you just have to admire him. To match his attacks is very tough, but it is the way you have to play sometimes when the ball doesn’t help you. I am super pleased to be through and I can’t be more relieved really.”
Unlike the women’s Black Ball tournament, which featured players from four nations in the semi-finals, World No.11 Fares Dessouky and World Champion Tarek Momen ensured it will be an all-Egyptian semi-final line-up courtesy of respective wins over Peru’s Diego Elias and Welshman Joel Makin.
Dessouky has reached back-to-back PSA World Tour semi-finals for the first time since April 2017 after he came back from a game down to topple World No.7 Elias. It ends a three-match losing streak to Elias, with the pair having had some feisty battles in the past.
“It was a very touch match, physically and mentally,” Dessouky said. “It was a mental game, he was talking to me between every single point, so I had to really focus on court. He’s clever, I’m not blaming him for doing so, but I had to keep my mind on court, so I’m happy.”
Momen achieved a 3-0 victory over World No.9 Makin, with the third game going the way of the Egyptian by a 16-14 margin after some breathtaking exchanges.
Makin fought through an 80-minute battle with former World No.1 James Willstrop in the previous round but was unable to back that up against his opponent today, with Momen playing his best squash of the tournament so far.
“I honestly thought I was going to get away with an easy win today,” Momen said. “I played some of the best squash I have played this season for the whole match. Sometimes, you are flying on court and you have a really good day and everything works your way.
“You might then show up the next day a bit flat, so I am happy that this happened and I had to push myself so that I can, at least mentally, be as sharp as I can tomorrow and I think it worked for the best for me today.”
Men’s 2020 CIB Black Ball Squash Open, Black Ball Club, Cairo, Egypt.
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 3-1: 6-11, 13-11, 11-8, 16-14 (59m)
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt  Miguel Rodriguez (COL) 3-0: 11-4, 11-9, 11-6 (38m)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt  Diego Elias (PER) 3-1: 11-13, 13-11, 11-8, 11-7 (76m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt  Joel Makin (WAL) 3-0: 11-7, 11-2, 16-14 (52m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) v  Mostafa Asal (EGY)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA