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Egyptian Ali Farag feels at home in Dublin

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Irish Open champions Madeline Perry and Ali Farag
Irish Open champions Madeline Perry and Ali Farag

Unheralded Egyptian takes out four seeds to win Irish Open title
By NATHAN CLARKE

 

Unheralded Egyptian Ali Farag downed four seeds in a row to win the GillenMarkets Irish Open – thus becoming the first unseeded player for four years to win the long-established PSA World Tour event at Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club in Dublin.

The 23-year-old from Cairo, ranked 73 in the world, made a sensational breakthrough in the semi-finals of the PSA Challenger 15 squash event when he upset top-seeded compatriot Mazen Hesham, ranked 43 places higher, in four games.

Farag’s final opponent was Lucas Serme, the fifth seed from France who followed his breakthrough upset over second-seeded Scot Alan Clyne in the quarter-finals by beating Kiwi qualifier Paul Coll in the semis – a win which took the 23-year-old Frenchman into his second successive Tour final.

The match was a close-fought see-saw affair, with honours shared after four games. Serme fought back from 3-8 down in the decider, but in front of a vociferous Egyptian crowd it was Farag who held his nerve and made his country proud to close out the match 11-8, 5-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-9 after 81 minutes.

Farag became the first Egyptian winner of the men’s title since Tarek Momen, also unseeded, in 2011 – when his fiancée Nour El Tayeb also won the women’s trophy.

“It is so great playing in front of our Egyptian ambassador to Ireland and all the Egyptians who came out to support me today,” said Farag, who now boasts seven PSA World Tour titles, including three in 2015.

“This title also means a lot because my fiancée won the title here four years ago!”

PSA Challenger 15 GillenMarkets Irish Open, Dublin, Ireland

 1st round:

[1] Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt [WC] Arthur Gaskin (IRL)
11-4, 11-6, 11-3
[6] Rex Hedrick (AUS) bt [Q] Mohamed Elgawarhy (EGY)
11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 11-7
Ali Farag (EGY) bt [7] Greg Lobban (SCO)
5-11, 11-5, 13-11, 11-9
[3] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) bt Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT)
11-6, 3-11, 11-2, 11-8
[Q] Paul Coll (NZL) bt [4] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND)
11-8, 11-1, 13-11
[Q] Shehab Essam (EGY) bt [8] Charles Sharpes (ENG)
11-7, 6-11, 12-10, 11-3
[5] Lucas Serme (FRA) bt [Q] George Parker (ENG)
11-9, 8-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-9
[2] Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Piedro Schweertman (NED)
11-5, 11-4, 8-11, 11-9
Quarter-finals:
[1] Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt [6] Rex Hedrick (AUS)
11-8, 11-4, 11-7
Ali Farag (EGY) bt [3] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY)
13-11, 11-9, 11-5
[Q] Paul Coll (NZL) bt [Q] Shehab Essam (EGY)
11-3, 11-3, 11-2
[5] Lucas Serme (FRA) bt [2] Alan Clyne (SCO)
13-11, 11-8, 11-6
Semi-finals:
Ali Farag (EGY) bt [1] Mazen Hesham (EGY)
9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-7
[5] Lucas Serme (FRA) bt [Q] Paul Coll (NZL)
11-6, 11-8, 5-11, 11-4
Final:
Ali Farag (EGY) bt [5] Lucas Serme (FRA)
11-8, 5-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-9 (81m)
 

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