German ace meets Ali Farag in Swedish final
By JESPER PERSSON and NATHAN CLARKE in Linköping
Germany’s Simon Rösner will be hoping to collect his second PSA World Tour title in succession when he faces Egyptian World No.3 Ali Farag in the final of the 2018 UCS Swedish Open tomorrow.
The 30-year-old from Paderborn made history last month when he claimed the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions title – becoming the first German ever to win a World Series event – and he continued to go from strength-to-strength in Linköping as he defeated Tarek Momen, whom he beat in the Tournament of Champions final, to set up a showdown with Farag tomorrow.
Rösner started the tournament slowly, struggling to get past England’s Declan James in round one. But, after impressing in a straight games victory over Daryl Selby yesterday, he continued to improve as he came through a compelling 62-minute encounter 11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 11-7.
“It feels good to finally be in the final here after many years of trying,” said Rösner. “And it’s amazing to be into my second final this year already – after only two events played. I’m a little speechless.
“I only just won my first round match here. It could easily have been over for me (against Declan James) so to be in the final now is a great achievement and I’m happy with how my game went today.
“ was lucky to come out on top of this first two games – and that 2-0 lead is a huge difference to being level at 1-1.”
Momen had spent more than 150 minutes on court leading into their match, a fact Rösner played on as he attacked out of the blocks in the first game.
While the Egyptian World No.7 began to grow in confidence throughout the second, becoming more competitive in the rallies and using his speed to move Rösner and sap at his physical strengths, World No.6 Rösner ultimately stood firm to prevail.
The match-up was a deja vu from their meeting 10 days ago in the final of Tournament of Champions. Rösner won the match 3-1 just as he did then, and the games were also handed out in the same order as in New York.
Rösner came out flying from the start, looking fast, accurate and determined to reach his first ever Swedish Open final. Leaving the slow-started Momen with no chance of winning the first two games and took an early lead and went up 2-0, and pretty much everything was pointing towards a 3-0 win for the German.
Then in the third, Momen started to look like the Mominator we know. Simultaneously, Rösner started playing sloppy and gave away the third to the quick Egyptian with the score 11-4.
The third game also had an amazing rally in it, at the score 1-2. The players competed amazingly well, and Rösner looked like he was almost as fast as Momen for a while, as he saved a number of what looked to be perfect shots from Momen, who gave him some nice words in the post-match interview:
The Egyptian said: “I remember the point well. I couldn’t believe the pick-ups he made in that point. It was insane.”
In the fourth game, the focused and dominant Rösner came back, and he played some amazing squash, showing off his heightened confidence from the past week. He stayed in front to make the match ahis own and finally made it through to the final tomorrow.
After the match, Rösner said the following: “Finally! It feels quite amazing to be in the second final this year and to be two out of two. I’m quite speechless because you know you’re seeded four in this tournament and it’s a big achievement. I was really happy about the game today.”
Ali Farag overcomes Paul Coll in stunning battle
We have just finished our second match of today, and what a Semi-Final the 1,500 spectators got to see here in Linköping. Technically probably one of the best matches ever seen in Swedish Open history, and, according to Tournament Director Fredrik Jonsson: “Without doubt one of the top three matches of all time here in Linköping.”
These players had only matched up three times before in their careers, all of them last year with Farag leading 2-1 in the internal statistics.
Farag, who had still to lose a game this week, had played some really good squash on his way to the semis, and continued on the same path in the beginning of the match. Coll, typically, was as always fighting very hard, running on almost everything, giving his opponent nothing for free. But, against the world ranked number three, sometimes that’s not enough. Farag outplayed him significantly, and won the first two games, both with the scoreline of 11-5.
After that, Coll was slowly starting to pick up his game in the third. He got in front of Farag way more and managed to strike back, breaking Farag’s streak of not dropping a game, and he won the third 13-11 after a tense and exciting tiebreak.
The same tight squash continued in the fourth game, where both players outshone one another in point after point, and the quickness of the two of them was spectacular, resulting in many long rallies and it was really hard to say in what direction the game was going.
Coll took an early lead, going up to 6-3, but Farag came back immediately and tied it up 6-6. It continued to be close all the way to another tiebreak, where Farag was just a number too big and won the game after a no let decision by the video referee and screamed out his frustration as he got the vote.
Even though Coll got eliminated, he reflected in positive fashion on his Swedish Open debut in the post-game interview and said: “Yeah, it’s a great atmosphere and the people are very friendly and the crowd was very supportive today.
“I’m playing quite well. I was happy with my last two games of today, but Ali was just too good in the first and I played well in the last one. So well done to Ali and good luck to him in the final.”
Farag was clearly impressed by the way Coll struck back during the match and said: “I picked up where I left off last night (against James Willstrop). All credit to him and whoever was coaching him he played really well in the last two.
“I got a bit scared at 6-3 in the fourth and I had to tell myself ‘Ali, man up, show yourself that you can do this’ and I stepped up and it went well. It was a shame it had to end this way (with the decision), but I look forward to many great battles between us in the future.”
PSA M70 Men’s UCS Swedish Open 2018, Linköping Sporthall, Linköping, Sweden.
 Simon Rösner (Germany) beat Tarek Momen (Egypt) 3-1: 11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 11-7 (62 mins)
 Ali Farag (Egypt) beat  Paul Coll (New Zealand) 3-1: 11-5, 11-5, 11-13, 12-10 (66 mins)
 Ali Farag (Egypt) v  Simon Rösner (Germany)
Pictures by Steve Line (www.squashpics.com)