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Ali Farag meets Nick Matthew in Motor City final

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Ali Farag on the attack against Mathieu Castagnet
Ali Farag on the attack against Mathieu Castagnet

Egyptian aims for a third giant-killing in Detroit final
By GEOFF ROBINSON in Detroit

 

Giant-killer Ali Farag of Egypt continued his magical run at the 2016 Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection Sunday evening, downing France’s Mathieu Castagnet (World #9) in the semis one day after taking out World #1 Mohamed El Shorbagy.

Farag moves on to Monday’s championship, where he’ll have a chance at a third upset against World #3 Nick Matthew.

“It feels awesome,” Farag said afterwards. “It’s always tough to back up a good win, especially against the number one.”

His determination against top ten players was put to the test early against Castagnet. There wasn’t a lot between the two, as Farag held off his opponent through tough, first-game rallies: 12-10.

“I think that was crucial in terms of confidence,” Farag said. “It’s a big difference when you’re one-love up than one-love down.”

Castagnet took the second game, 11-9, and that final point was the first time that either player had held a two-point advantage in the stanza.

Farag opened the third game up with a 4-1 advantage, putting Castagnet on the run and trying to tire out the Frenchman. The 23-year-old won the third easily, 11-4.

The fourth was another back-and-forth affair, with neither player able to gain more than a point advantage. Castagnet was back in the zone, displaying great touch en route to a 9-8 advantage. Farag dug in deep, however, and reeled off the next three points for the game.

He finished the match off with an aggressive cross-court winner -and a standing ovation from an adoring crowd. Just a year out of Harvard University, the mechanical engineering major appears on a fast track to the top ten.

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Next up in the second semi-final was World #3 and second seed Nick Matthew against former MCO Champion, Borja Golan of Spain. If Farag is intent on proving he belongs in the World top ten, then Matthew is determined to win back his #1 ranking after a struggle with an ankle injury last year.

Matthew defeated Golan in four games, proving to be the more consistent player through a bushel-full of exciting rallies.

Golan matched the English superstar stride-for-stride – hitting some masterful winners. After dropping the first (11-8), the Spaniard hit a beautiful winner along the rail to take the second: 11-9.

In game three Matthew lived up to his nickname, “The Wolf,” relentlessly chasing down balls and keeping rallies alive while the unforced errors piled up for Golan. The World #17 had hardly broken a sweat over the first two days of play, but Matthew’s consistency took its toll. Matthew won the final two games: 11-8, 11-7.

“He got a quick lead in the second and started attacking early in the rally,” Matthew said. “I got it back towards the end, but I was always chasing that game. I was just determined to get a good start in the third, and that took me through.”

Monday’s Championship match will be the first-ever meeting between Farag and Matthew. Farag is the youngest player in the field at 23, while Matthew is the second oldest at 35 (Olli Tuominen is 37).

$70,000 Men’s Motor City Open 2016, Birmingham Athletic Club, Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, USA.

Semi-finals:
[7] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [3] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 12-10, 9-11, 11-4, 11-9 (61m)
[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [6] Borja Golan (ESP) 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7 (64m)

MONDAY CHAMPIONSHIP

Matthew v. Farag (6:00)

Pictures by BRYAN MITCHELL courtesy of BAC 

 

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