Friday, February 23, 2024

Diego Elias hits top form against Mohamed ElShorbagy to reach Optasia final against top seed Ali Farag

‘It’s great to have Mo back’ says in-form Elias as Farag foils Swiss giant-killer Mueller

Peru’s World No.6 Diego Elias and Egypt’s World No.2 Ali Farag will contest the Optasia Championship final at the Wimbledon Club in London after wins over Egypt’s Mohamed ElShorbagy and Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller.

Elias and Farag will go head to head in a PSA final for the first time in their careers as they both look for a first win in the tournament formerly known as the Channel VAS Championships.

Elias produced a stunning performance to build on an impressive nail-biting five-game win over Mazen Hesham last night, as he put former World No.1 ElShorbagy to the sword in straight-games.

The 2021 Qatar Classic champion was full of confidence as he saw out a tight first game, before comfortably dominating ElShorbagy in the second to take a 2-0 lead.

The Egyptian tried to fight back in the third, but continual errors affected his game and Elias was able to keep his focus to claim his second successive win over ElShorbagy and reach the final for the first time at the event.

“I’m very happy with my performance today,” said Elias. ”Yesterday helped me a lot for today. I was a bit nervous, I was coming from a bad loss for me two weeks ago, I was just trying to get back to my game and I’m very happy with this and I’m ready for tomorrow.

“We always have tough matches, even when I started we played maybe five 3-2s. I always expect a tough match; I’m just happy he’s coming back stronger, he was struggling for a bit and now he’s on his way back and it’s just great having him around.

“We’ve [Elias and Farag] played so many times, I don’t have the best record against him, but I’m starting to play better and better and we haven’t played in a while, so I’m ready for it.”

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Top seed Farag was forced to do things the hard way in the first game, saving four game balls, as Mueller came out of the blocks firing, much to the delight of the packed-out crowd at the PSA World Tour Gold event.

The Swiss player has enjoyed one of the best weeks of his career, reaching a Gold semi-final for the first time. A tough first game that went all the way to 17-15 looked to have taken a lot out of the World No.26 though and broke his resolve as Farag was comfortably able close out the next two games in stylish fashion as he continues his aim to win a first major title on English soil.

“He threw more than just the kitchen sink at me, he was throwing everything at me,” said Farag in his post-match interview. “You can never match Nicci at such open squash, I tried to contain him in the first. I wasn’t aggressive enough in the back corners and he was finding his targets pretty well and was playing better than me.

“I thought I needed to put some work into his legs even if you lose this one it’s an investment, and it would pay off in the second and third games and winning it as well made the physical difference and also the mental difference because I was 1-0 up and I capitalised on it.”

The Optasia Championships final will take place tomorrow (March 11) at 19:00 (GMT) and will be shown live on SQUASHTV.

PSA Gold Men’s Optasia Championship, The Wimbledon Club, London, England.

[1] Ali Farag (EGY) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-0: 17-15, 11-5, 11-4 (41m)
[3] Diego Elias (PER) bt [2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-0: 15-13, 11-1, 11-7 (45m)

Final (March 11):
[1] Ali Farag (EGY) v [3] Diego Elias (PER)

Pictures courtesy of PSA and Patrick Lauson Photography


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