Thursday, December 7, 2023

Mostafa Asal downs Mohamed Abouelghar in stormy El Gouna battle

Dessouky praises Rooney after losing opening game
By SEAN REUTHE – Squash Mad Correspondent

World Junior Champion Mostafa Asal battled to a scrappy 3-2 victory over compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar to reach the quarter-finals of the El Gouna International Squash Open after 103 minutes of drama.

After a high-quality beginning to the match, the fixture then fell into an untidy battle which saw the referee called into action on numerous occasions.

After Asal took a third game littered with strokes, Abouelghar – who downed Marwan ElShorbagy in the previous round – pounced in the fourth as he drew level after dropping a solitary point, before going 6-1 ahead in the decider.

Asal fought back, though, and a controversial no let on his second match ball handed him the match to complete a 12-10, 4-11, 14-12, 1-11, 12-10 victory to reach the quarters here for the first time, where he will face World No.7 Fares Dessouky.

“I am so happy that I won today,” said Asal. “It is unbelievable for me to beat someone like Abou. He is on top form and we saw his match against Marwan, it was an unbelievable match. I was expecting to go home today, but I am happy that I made it.

“I am thankful for the crowd and thankful for [Tournament Promoter] Amr Mansi for this amazing tournament in El Gouna. As Mohamed [ElShorbagy] said, it is also about the mental game, you have to be tough mentally and this is what the last few years of experience have given me. I am becoming more and more mentally tough and I am happy that I recovered from 6-1 down in the fifth.”

Asal’s victory came following a 45-minute break in play due to humidity earlier in the night, which saw top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy and Baptiste Masotti forced to wait on the sidelines until the court conditions improved.

Masotti made the stronger start of the two when they did eventually get onto court, but ElShorbagy turned things around to record a 10-12, 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 win and he will take on Welshman Joel Makin in the next round as he looks to avenge his defeat to the World No.9 in March’s CIB Black Ball Open.

“I played him [Masotti] at Black Ball a month ago and he is a player who goes out to win every single match and that is what I admire about him, and he has the character to go all the way to the top one day,” ElShorbagy explained.

“He is young but at the same time, he doesn’t want to wait, he wants it now, he wants it more than anything. I can see it in his eyes because that is how I was when I was young. I respect that about him, and he gave me a huge battle.”

Dessouky hit back after losing the opening game against England’s Patrick Rooney at the El Gouna club courts to win 4-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-3.

Rooney impressed in the first game with his accurate hitting and control. But Dessouky, the 2020 CIB Black Ball Open winner, showed his calibre in the second as he settled into his rhythm to put Rooney on the back foot.

The Englishman gave Dessouky a challenge in the third but it was the Egyptian who took the lead and never looked back in the fourth to wrap up the victory.

“First game I didn’t know how he is playing, and he was so accurate,” said Dessouky.

“He was moving very well, and the ball was very bouncy. I couldn’t do anything other than run everywhere, and at the end I gave up for that game.

“But from the first rally of the second game, I started playing well, but he was still taking the ball very short, he was controlling the pace, he was the one in the middle of the court most of the time. And I was the one running around in the first few points of the game, I was trying to get everything back to try and not make it easy for him.

“He is a very good player, I was actually surprised today. He is playing very well, he deserves to be top 15 or something. That’s what I feel, the way he moves, how mature he is, how well he plays. I think he did only four or five mistakes the whole match. That was incredible. And I made much more I think. All credit to him, he played very well.”

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World No.4 Camille Serme moved through to the quarter-finals of the women’s tournament after she beat Canada’s Hollie Naughton 11-5, 11-7, 11-2.

The Frenchwoman will play Egypt’s Hania El Hammamy next after the World No.7 defeated Nada Abbas 3-1. The pair have met 10 times on the PSA World Tour – with many of those going on to be match of the season contenders – and Serme will look to extend her 6-4 head-to-head lead over her young opponent.

“I found my targets better than the other day,” Serme said. “I felt good physically and was moving pretty well, so I could get her shots and I think she struggled a bit with the court. That’s the advantage of having one more match on there, which is unlucky for her.”

The other match on the glass court saw an injury to Alison Waters cut short her match with England team-mate Sarah-Jane Perry, with Perry moving on to play World No.1 Nour El Sherbini in the last eight. El Sherbini received a walkover into the quarter-finals after her third round opponent, Yathreb Adel, withdrew through injury.

“Me and Alison are really good friends and pre-COVID we were usually room-mates, so we have spent a lot of time together,” Perry said.

“I hope it’s nothing too bad that she has done and that she is back as soon as possible. There have always been questions about my fitness to get through tournaments, but I think that’s why I was pleased with the Black Ball win in December, to not just show I could play five matches in five days but to still come out the other end and to come out with the win.”

2021 El Gouna International Squash Open, El Gouna, Egypt.

Men’s Third Round (Top Half):
[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 3-1: 10-12, 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 (59m)
[7] Joel Makin (WAL) bt Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) 3-0: 12-10, 11-7, 11-2 (42m)
[6] Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Patrick Rooney (ENG) 3-1: 4-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-3 (48m)
Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 3-2: 12-10, 4-11, 14-12, 1-11, 12-10 (102m)

Men’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half May 25):
[3] Paul Coll (NZL) v [5] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v [2] Tarek Momen (EGY)

Men’s Quarter-Finals (Top Half May 26):
[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v [7] Joel Makin (WAL)
[6] Fares Dessouky (EGY) v Mostafa Asal (EGY)

Women’s Third Round (Top Half):
[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Yathreb Adel (EGY) w/o
[5] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Alison Waters (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4 ret. (24m)
[6] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Nada Abbas (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6 (59m)
[3] Camille Serme (FRA) bt Hollie Naughton (CAN) 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 11-2 (27m)

Women’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half May 25):
[4] Amanda Sobhy (USA) v [8] Salma Hany (EGY)
Rowan Elaraby (EGY) v [2] Nouran Gohar (EGY)

Women’s Quarter-Finals (Top Half May 26):
[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v [5] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
[6] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v [3] Camille Serme (FRA)

Pictures courtesy of PSA


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