R3: Marwan stops Mostafa comeback

Marwan ElShorbagy (Egy) 3-2 Mostafa Asal (Egy) 11-5, 11-2, 7-11, 7-11, 11-5 (55m)

I cannot helping smiling thinking of that match. Because it furiously reminds me of a match between Shabana and Shorbagy senior a few years back on a traditional court during the HK Open… Shabs was at the time the Lion King, and Mohamed the “Little Lion I want to be King”. Mohamed – who at the time was blocking nicely – spent his time on the floor… and at the end of the match, just bowed to the Maestro. I will never forget that match.

Well, toutes proportions gardées, it’s a bit what happened on there today… They had played once in Wimbledon in March, and it had been a quick 3/0 for the Controller. And today, it looked like going the same way, 11/5 and 11/2 in a few minutes.

But this is Egypt, this is Cairo, and Mostafa had his whole home support with him. He also had the time to get used to Marwan’s pace who maybe relaxed a bit as well. In 12m, Mostafa went from 6/2 to 6/6, then score 5 points to clinch the game 11-7.

The next game saw Marwan very excited against the ref, and starting to blame the movement of his opponent – who at the time didn’t do much wrong I felt. But the mind game was on…. Down 8/2, Marwan used his chats to the ref to try and fire himself up but even if he caught a few points at the end, it was still Mostafa 117 in the 4th, 9m, levelling to 2/2…

I feel that up to then, Mostafa didn’t have any pressure, and played some good clean squash. But as he started the 5th, the “I need to win at all cost, I am expected to win” came over him, and the blocking came back big time, with a bit of help from Marwan that made sure he exposed his young opponent’s movement.

It worked: in 8 points, Mostafa was penalised with 4 strokes, then 3 no lets… The Master Marwan was at work, and taught a big lesson to Mostafa in movement on a squash court. 11/5 in 11m…

Handshake was polite but no warmth there. Mostafa took the beating head high, and I’m sure, will learn a lot from it…


All credit to him, he’s been playing unbelievable well, beating Diego is such a good result, especially given that Diego has been playing quite well.

Coming into this match, I knew I was playing another top player. I started the match really well to be honest, I was containing him and that was my game plan. He changed his game after the second game, he became more aggressive with the ball, and I think I became more passive.

In the fifth game I told myself to get myself back to what I was doing. I did that well, I had a good start and I wanted to keep that lead as much as possible. It was a tough match of course, and I’m just happy to win overall.

I’m pretty sure people have been saying that all week, but it’s a dream for me and all the players to play by the Pyramids. I used to come here when Barada used to play and I was just little kid.  Also, I watched David Palmer win it in 2006, and I want to enjoy every single second of competing there.

For now, I’m going to enjoy my day off tomorrow, normally when I play on the traditional court and the glass court, I separate it into two tournaments. The glass court is different, it’s a new tournament now for me.