Paul Coll (NZL) 3-2 Fares Dessouky (EGY) 11-6, 5-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9 (82m)
This was a very tough one, where the ref(s) played a big role. They penalised Fares on a regular basis with strokes or no lets “you go for the body, not for the ball”, or “you are not clearing the ball”, or also “you took his space”.
It was a line they kept the whole time, although there were a few calls at the start of the fourth that seemed a bit unfair, as Paul seemed to have a few more lenient decisions (I counted 2 that didn’t seem to follow the hard line followed against Fares. But from the end of that game, things were back to normal, and both were penalised equally it seemed to me…
First game I thought that Fares was a bit passive and lethargic. He can be very laid back which helps him to keep calm but I thought that he was really a bit too much on the receiving end. Although they were quite close score wise in the middle, 5/6, Paul was calling the shots, 9/5 and 11/6 (4 strokes for Paul, 1 for Fares, and no errors from either of them)
A much more aggressive Fares in the second, 3/0, 8/2 and game 11/5 in 13m like the first game. (3 strokes for Fares, 1 for Paul, and 2 errors each).
Paul stepped up, and sped up the pace quite nice, taking Fares a bit out of his comfort zone, 3/0, 6/2, 7/3. A good change of tactic from the Egyptian, finding a few more attacks, clawing back to 8/9. A ball out of court and a lovely winner stuck to the wall, and it’s 2/1, 11/8 in 16m.
A game that the Egyptian manages to turn round, 19m of very hard and intense squash, from 4/1 down to 6/6, 7/7, game ball, 10/7, closing it down finally 11/9.
The last is very close indeed. A strange no let at 3/2 against Fares – would like somebody to explain that one – 3/3, 5/5, 6/6.
At 7/6 for Fares, the Egyptian is penalised with a penalty stroke for “deliberately taking the line of your opponent”. We are now at 8/7, with Mum and Dad Dessouky urging their son to keep calm and just take one point at a time.
8/8. 9/9. The crowd is still believing in their man’s chances. But a lovely finish at the front of the court, sliding along the tin, and a stroke as Fares tried to clear but accidentally banged into his opponent, and it’s a last stroke….
No acrimony between the players at all, a good embrace, complete respect. Good battle.
“It’s always a physical game against Fares. He takes the ball so early and I was trying to push up on the ‘T’ so there is always going to be a lot of contact. I’m happy with the way I kept my head there was a lot of decisions and a lot of stopping and starting, especially in the last game. I was happy with the way I stayed in there and closed it out.
I’m really enjoying this new period of my game. I started with a new coach, mental and tactical, so I’m really enjoying the start of the season, I’ve had a few good wins and a couple of good results. This is my first time playing in front of the Pyramids and it is another incredible experience in my squash career to be playing in this amazing location tonight.”