Friday, March 1, 2024

Marwan ElShorbagy downs Diego Elias to reach his third final of the season as he bids for a second Grasshopper Cup title

Mostafa Asal wins through after 85-minute battle with Fares Dessouky
By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)

Marwan ElShorbagy produced a sublime performance to beat U.S. Open champion Diego Elias to reach the Grasshopper Cup final, where he will face another tough challenge against Mostafa Asal.

ElShorbagy won in straight games, edging the first two on tiebreaks before powering through the third to win 14-12, 12-10, 11-3.

He has certainly raised his game this season after starting work with Australian legend Rodney Martin and the results can be seen in a level of consistency, focus and intelligent squash.

This was his second win over Elias this month and it propelled him to his third final in six weeks. Having finished runner-up to Victor Crouin in Nantes and to his brother Mohamed in San Francisco, he will be pleased to be facing Asal after the 21-year-old’s 85-minute battle with Fares Dessouky.

If Asal is feeling the effects of that match, then ElShorbagy knows the level of trickery he will have to contend with apart from the blinding squash the 21-year-old is capable of.

But the 29-year-old ElShorbagy is a vastly experienced campaigner and he beat Gregory Gaultier to win the Grasshopper final in 2016. His current form will make him confident he can add a second Zurich title to his CV.

In a top-quality match with Elias, he saved two game balls before winning the first tiebreak 14-12. The second was another tight affair that went ElShorbagy’s way 12-10, with the Egyptian coming out better after a number of exciting duels at the front.

In a stunning third game, ElShorbagy controlled proceedings to crushed a dejected opponent 11-3.

ElShorbagy said: “I guess I love this venue so much! I’ve no words to describe how amazing Diego is. He’s the U.S. Open champion and is only 25.

“He’s going to be world No.1 one day. He’s a great player. Today was all about mentality. It’s always hard to back it up after winning a Platinum event. It was hard mentally on both of us of course. But I’m really glad to get the win.”

ElShorbagy revealed that he had extra motivation to win after being written off by SQUASHTV pundit Joey Barrington. He said: “I was so fired up today because during the warm-up I was listening to Joey say Diego’s going to get the win today.

“It fired me up as I thought ‘he doesn’t know what he’s talking about!’ I’m joking of course, but he doesn’t know what he’s talking about!”

Mostafa Asal in action against Fares Dessouky

In the day’s final match, No.3 seed Mostafa Asal came from behind to beat Egyptian compatriot and No.8 seed Fares Dessouky 6-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5, 11-5 in 85 minutes.

After they shared the first two games, Asal saved two game balls in a tight third game before it ended with Dessouky receiving a hotly contested stroke.

Asal quickly won the fourth and led 5-0 in the fifth before Dessouky briefly halted his momentum. But Asal regained control to go through with an 11-5 win.

Afterwards Asal used a phrase I made up more than 20 years ago when he mentioned “traffic issues” in the middle of the court.

He said: “It’s always drama when you’re playing an Egyptian player. We played a bit of good squash and then there’s too much drama, as always. You’re not separated with a net and there are always going to be traffic issues.

“I’m happy to be through. I was saying to myself in the third and fourth that I wasn’t going to make it, but at the end of the day, even though I’m only 21 years old, I’ve got experience. I know how to win and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

In the women’s semi-finals, Wales’ Tesni Evans lost a brave battle against Hania El Hammy, who faces Nour El Sherbini in the final after the six-times world champion fought back from two games down to beat Rowan Elaraby.

Report here

PSA Gold 2022 Grasshopper Cup, Halle 622, Zurich, Switzerland.

Men’s Semi-Finals:
[7] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [4] Diego Elias (PER) 3-0: 14-12, 12-10, 11-3 (44m)
[3] Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt [8] Fares Dessouky (EGY) 3-2: 6-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5, 11-5 (85m)

Men’s Final (Sunday, October 23):
[7] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v [3] Mostafa Asal (EGY)

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour


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