Monday, July 15, 2024

Ali Farag to face off with Simon Rosner in Qatar Classic final

Farag avenges Momen defeat while Rosner chops Elias
By ALEX WAN – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor

Ali Farag, the Egyptian world number two will face Germany’s world number two Simon Rosner in the final of the Qatar Classic tomorrow after the pair won their semi-final matches against Tarek Momen and Diego Elias respectively. Farag and Rosner, who both play for the Paderborn Club, will face each other for the third time since June 2018, after the German won the previous two encounters at the US Open last month and PSA Finals in June.


Farag beat Tarek Momen in four games to avenge his defeat last week in the final of the Channel VAS Championship, where Momen had come back from 2-1 down to lift the title. Both men had played some unbelievable squash all week, with Farag having to overcome a tough opener against Mohamed Abouelghar and Momen showing brilliance in his match against James Willstrop.


Ali Farag puts the ball away from Tarek Momen during their semi-final match


Farag has been playing some free flowing fluid squash after the tough opening round, but did not have a smooth start today. Somehow, he did not seem as relaxed in his movement in the first two games in comparison to the last two days. He does manages to take the lead after a close first 16-minute game, taking it 11-9.

Momen then went into overdrive in the next game, breaking away from 4-4 with seven consecutive points to draw level after some very dominant rallies. However, he couldn’t continue his run in the next game and in fact, started off badly with a weak opening serve which Farag sent into the nick with a straight volley. The score line was close up to 6-6 and by now, there has been more than a couple of cheeky remarks from both players to the referee. Farag then went on a rampage, forcing Momen into several errors to take the game 11-6 and a 2-1 lead.


Quite a number of traffic and cheeky remarks to the referee in the second and third games


In the fourth, it was Farag right from the start, going to 8-3 and eventually winning 11-4 after just over an hour of play. When asked what was the difference between their previous match a week ago, Farag said:

“Today I think I had a different plan (compared to in Weybridge during the Channel VAS Championship) I put up with Nour (El Tayeb) and my coaches. I started executing it well starting from the third and carried that well into the fourth as well, cause I know I can’t slack for a second cause I know he came back from 2-1 down in Weybridge, so I’m really happy to be through today. Tarek is very lethal on shoulder height. He jumps on it very quickly and just kills it, so I tried to avoid any of that and tried to neutralise it with the lobs and I’m really happy it worked.”


Ali Farag avenges his defeat to Tarek Momen to make Qatar final


Momen, meanwhile, was full of praise for his compatriot and accepted the defeat with grace :

“For the first three games, I felt it was similar to what happened in Weybridge. He was 2-1 up, but the difference the last time was, I could push myself a little harder. Today, I tried to push myself as hard as I could, but my shots today were not as accurate as they were in the previous three days. I felt I was a bit sharper. I wasn’t playing badly, Ali just played a really good match. He managed to close out the fourth without much setback. He played a better match and he deserved to win today.”


Simon Rosner meanwhile, had his shortest, if not easiest game today when he saw off a very flat Diego Elias in just 31 minutes over three games. After playing the match of his life the previous evening, the Peruvian Puma was hardly a glimmer of himself as he never really got into the match.

The match was started cautiously by both players, both maintaining a slower pace in the rallies to get a feel of the court. Things took a turn after Elias sent a shot into the tin for Rosner to draw level at 5-5, after which Rosner ran away with three quick points with some aggressive rallies to open up a lead at 8-5. Elias pulled one back and that was all he could in the game.


Simon Rosner was in total control in his last four match today, never allowing Diego Elias to threaten


In the second and third games, Elias was simply retrieving shot after shot, while Rosner was always in control. He never allowed Elias to get into the game. The confidence of Elias was shattered and he was questioning his shots more and more as he fell further and further behind. It was almost painful to watch Elias being dictated at such a stage of the competition. Six minutes in the second game and eight minutes in the third, and wining just a total of six points combined. Those figures tell exactly what happened in these two games.

“I think I got things right. I got better each round in this tournament. I managed to find a good mixture of everything today. I didn’t take too much risks. I kept it quite simple but still made it very, very tough for him to make any points. I knew he was going to be a little tired after yesterday, especially mentally. It’s not easy to come back and back up such a big win,” Rosner said in his post-match interview.


Simon Rosner putting a weak return away


Rosner will be riding high on the fact that he will be playing in his second consecutive final and might have an extra reason to go one better, after losing out to Mohamed ElShorbagy in the final of the US Open.

“Second straight final in a row. It’s very special, but still there’s one more match to go. Obviously I don’t want to just get to the final but actually win the tournament, so that’s what I’m aiming for tomorrow.

I think I’m quite well known to fight for every point, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do tomorrow. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got, and if that’s enough, that’s great, I’m more than happy. But if it’s not, then that’s how it is. That’s sport. I can only give the best I can and give it everything I can,” the German added on how he feels about tomorrow.


Men’s Qatar Classic, Khalifa Sports Complex, Doha, Qatar.


[4] Simon Rösner (GER) bt [8] Diego Elias (PER) 3-0: 11-6, 11-3, 11-3 (31m)
[2] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [3] Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-1: 11-9, 6-11, 11-6, 11-4 (61m) 

Pictures courtesy of Qatar Squash Federation

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