Asal collars Coll again … and the shirt comes off once more after Black Ball battle
By ROD GILMOUR – Squash Mad Correspondent
As if to prove once wasn’t enough, Mostafa Asal beat Paul Coll in another rip-roaring 3-2 contest on Egyptian soil as the teenage sensation once again left the court topless.
“In Egypt, Asal is a very hard man to beat,” Coll admitted before this second round clash in the CIB Black Ball Open. And in a riveting 85-minute match – four minutes 41 seconds of which was taken up with one fifth game rally – Asal came through to advance to the CIB Black Ball Open quarter-finals by triumphing 6-11, 11-8, 11-3, 4-11, 11-8.
The winning point came as Coll failed to retrieve an Asal backhand drive, the shot which played a significant hand in this match.
As Coll lifted himself up from the floor, naturally we all waited for what was to come next after Asal’s October exploits at the Egyptian Open.
Sure enough, there was a bit of niggle. As Asal put out his hand, Coll brushed past the Egyptian, briefly touching rackets instead.
Coll then left the court for the final time this year in disgust, flinging back the glass door hard enough for it to slam back shut.
Meanwhile, emotion got the better of Asal. He ripped off his shirt but this time refrained from throwing it to the crowd as he tucked it into his shorts. It did, though, leave him time to let out several roars of delight as he gave the front wall photographers plenty to snap.
When the final rally video was posted online shortly afterwards, social media once again went into a frenzy as the sport was left with plenty more talking points to savour.
🗣 "I thought it was going to go to him this time before the match… my dad told me to enjoy it and that was it."@mostafasal_ gives us his verdict on another major win over @paulcollsquash 🔥#BlackBallOpen pic.twitter.com/XFqyxCzquw
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) December 15, 2020
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) December 15, 2020
“It’s so hard to play against someone like Paul Coll,” Asal said. “In Qatar [where Coll reached the final], he was unbelievable and I thought it was going to go to him this time before the match. When I play a top 50 or 60 player, I’m always thinking about my physicality, and trying to save energy. But when I play Paul, he is the best in the world for physicality, and I just don’t think about it, I just forget about that and focus on my squash.”
Asal will play Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez for a place in the semi-finals after he came back from 2-0 down to beat Egypt’s Zahed Salem.
Rodriguez, 34, stared down the barrel of defeat in game four as Salem held three match balls, but the World No.10 launched a superb fightback to win 5-11, 9-11, 11-7, 13-11, 11-6.
“I never gave up,” said Rodriguez afterwards. “I think I was three match balls down and it happened the same time when I played him in Switzerland [at the Grasshopper Cup]. It was a mental game, my short game wasn’t there today and I was a bit edgy on the shots. I was trying to go too short to finish the rallies and I had to keep the same strategy as the day before, so I was focusing on playing a lengthy game with a little bit of pace and it worked.”
Egypt’s World No.11 Fares Dessouky ended the title defence of fellow Egyptian and World No.5 Karim Abdel Gawad to reach the quarter-finals.
Dessouky, 26, is making his first appearance at this tournament after missing out on the inaugural 2018 edition due to injury, and he got the better of the only man ever to get his hands on this trophy, winning 11-6, 9-11, 3-11, 11-2, 11-3 in 52 minutes.
It was a back and forth encounter which saw the lead change hands multiple times but, after taking the third game comfortably, Gawad fell completely off the pace as Dessouky moved in for the kill, meaning there will be a new name on the men’s trophy this year.
“I’m very happy to be through to the quarters,” said Dessouky. “It was a tough match, mentally and physically. He’s a very tough and talented player as everyone knows. I’m happy to be through, and for the next match, Diego [Elias] and I usually have tough matches, the last time he won.
“Hopefully this time I play my best and win. Both of us are very skilful players and we’re playing good squash. We are not just running around and it’s not just about fitness. Today, we gave the crowd a good match and for sure they enjoyed the level of squash they saw.”
He will take on Peru’s Diego Elias for a place in the semis, which could be a captivating affair following some previous feisty battles between the pair.
Elias, the World No.7, overcame French veteran Gregory Gaultier in straight games. Gaultier, a former World No.1, has been a training partner of Elias in recent months but the 37-year-old had no answer to the Peruvian’s guile on court today.
“We were unlucky to draw each other after training for three or four months together,” Elias said.
“In training he was playing really well, I think it’s unlucky for him that there are not many tournaments right now because I think he needs more matches. It’s different than playing practice matches, so I think it’s unlucky for him but in training, it is a different thing. I think when there are more tournaments and more chances to play, he will come back even stronger.”
Welshman Joel Makin avenged his CIB Egyptian Open defeat to former World No.1 James Willstrop in a high-quality five-game battle and he will take on World Champion Tarek Momen in the quarter-finals. Momen beat compatriot Mazen Hesham in the final match of the day and has lost two of his last three matches against World No.9 Makin.
World No.1 Ali Farag is also through after beating World No.17 Omar Mosaad and he will play World No.12 Mohamed Abouelghar after he dispatched Frenchman Gregoire Marche.
CIB Black Ball Open, Black Ball Club, Cairo, Egypt.
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-7 (33m)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt  Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (32m)
 Miguel Rodriguez (COL) bt  Zahed Salem (EGY) 3-2: 5-11, 9-11, 11-7, 13-11, 11-6 (83m)
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt  Paul Coll (NZL) 3-2: 6-11, 11-8, 11-3, 4-11, 11-8 (85m)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-2: 11-6, 9-11, 3-11, 11-2, 11-3 (52m)
 Diego Elias (PER) bt  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 3-0: 11-9, 11-8, 11-6 (45m)
 Joel Makin (WAL) bt  James Willstrop (ENG) 3-2: 11-7, 8-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9 (80m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt  Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-1: 8-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-9 (41m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) v  Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
 Miguel Rodriguez (COL) v  Mostafa Asal (EGY)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) v  Diego Elias (PER)
 Joel Makin (WAL) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA