2015 Men's World Championship Bellevue - Day FIVE

REPORTS: Farag | Fathi | Castagnet | Rosner
 Rodriguez | Gaultier | Willstrop | Elshorbagy

Ali Farag (Egy) 3-0 [13] Max Lee (Hkg) 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 (41m)

Masterclass from Farag

If you parents out there wonder if your kid will lose out on his squash while going to Uni, just have a look at Ali Farag. That boy graduated from Harvard a few months ago, actually was wearing their shirt today, and I can tell you that his brain won the match.

OK, his stunning racquet skills and super fitness may have helped too. But Max is as fit and as gifted – and clever! – than Ali. But today, Ali “a tissé sa toile” build a cobweb all around his prey. Forcing him to play HIS game, at HIS pace, a sort of mid/slow pace that seems comfortable enough, but cut with sudden accelerations, boasts and change of height that basically killed Max’s quad and mental belief in himself.

If Ali made 3 unforced errors the whole match, 12 is the amount I counted for Max. That tells the story, how Ali forced the HK player to finally attack from the wrong position at the end of verrrrrry long and gruelling slow pace rallies.

Max was in control in the first game – Ali took probably a few minutes to get used to the glass court, whereas Max had played on it before – to lead 6/3 but the hard work Ali forced him to produce allowed the Egyptian to score 4 points in a row, then 7/7, 8/8, and again 4 points in a row, 11/8 in 14m for Ali.

Second is on the same scheme, 6/2 up for Max, again a little drop of energy, and 7 points in a row for Ali! Two tins at the end of the game give the second one to Ali, 11/7 in 11m.

In the third, the start is pretty close, 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, but from that point on, it is obvious that Max is not going to win this one, tired and mentally broken, he just cannot find a way to hurt the Egyptian and break his false slow pace… 11/7 Ali in 11m again.

For his first ever participation in the tournament, he is not doing too bad the Harvard boy…

I believe I can win every tournament I play, that’s my way to get focused, but this victory is truly great, Max is such a great player, he’s been at the top of the game for a good long time now, so beating him 3/0 is very special.

I started to cramp in my right leg at the end of the first game, it has nothing to do with fitness I believe, because I have the best fitness coach in the world (Hossam, actually the Egyptian physio), but it’s just that I put too much pressure mentally on myself.

I am blessed to be surrounded by people that give me the right tactic, Wael my brother and coach, and Shabana. They both told me how good Max was at moving people around, how clever with his tactic he is, so I just have to stop him and prevent him from doing it to me. And thank God it worked.

Karim Ali Fathi (Egy) 3-2 Fares Dessouki (Egy) 7-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-3, 11-4 (82m)

Fathi beats Fearless Fares

“He played so well, I wasn’t on the court, it was a bad day, it happens…”

With those words, Fares summarised on of the biggest upsets so far of this event. Karim, 22, WR 42 just beat Fearless Fares, one of the contenders for the title in a lot of expert minds, 21, and WR18…..

A lot of pressure did Fares put in his racquet today. He has a new coach, David Pearson, former England Squash Mr Big, he wanted to do good on this tournament, he is the new kid on the block, and especially with Mazen and Zahed gone, he was a bit the only young Egyptian young wolves at the top of the ranking to still be in the event…. And for once, he was the chased, not the chaser.. That changes a lot of things when you are expected to win…

On the other racquet, our Fathi didn’t have any worry or care or pressure in the world. One of the strong hitter on the Egyptian clan, he’s got on top of a strong physic a superb winner maker machine available at all times. And boy, did he make that machine work double shifts!!

A very solid first game for Fares, but already a lot of work is done, 15m 11/7. The second is the one that Fares shouldn’t have lost. Up 6/3, he probably relaxed a bit, and boy did Karim liked it. Picking up the pace, he forced not less than 6 errors out of Fares, just in that game, to take it 11/9, retrieving some amazing shots and taking basically any belief Fares could have in his attacking shots.

That’s the key of the match.

After that, doubting his ability, going too negative, and falling in the basic trap of playing the other one’s game, Fares will be dominated. Yes, in the 3rd, he finds the mental strength to come back from 4/9 to win the game 11/4, 7 points run. But that took a hell of a lot from him, truly, both mentally and physically, and the 17m game, after the 2nd also 16 m, just killed Fares really, Fathi taking the next two, 11/3, 11/4….

As James Willstrop stated one day in the ToC when he was still a contender, “Squash is such a mental game it’s a joke”. Only Karim is the only one enjoy the joke mind today…

It feels bloody good. It was a hell of a match, he is a great player, he had some awesome wins, and after Peter Barker – although he was not moving well as we know – this makes two great wins in a row for me.

I only play well when you are there Fram!!! [Yes, right] Another 3/2. You’ve got to grind it out!! No, today, I just tried and frustrated him, try to take the volley away from him because he is so good in the middle, and force him to play at my fast pace. And after a while I realised that that pace suited me more than it suited him, that if I could keep it up like that, he would break before me.

I was depressed when I lost the 3rd, I was up 9/4, but Karim Samy told me what are you doing??? You are giving him exactly what he wanted. So I just went back in there, dug in deep, and dug in deep, that’s what I kept telling myself. “Fight or Died”, if you’ve seen Fast and Furious… That’s what I was doing today.

I really want to thank my coach Mohamed Abbas, and Hossam my fitness coach, for the hard work they are doing with me. And also, the fact we have Shabana in our corner is just an amazing support. Actually, things he told me for my match against Peter helped me today. He told me to keep the intensity up, not to be afraid of imposing my own game. And when I saw that was dropping that intensity in the 3rd, I realised I was doing it, and I remembered those words. And that helped me. It’s amazing when you have two great players like Abbas and Shabana in your corner, it gives you an incredible confidence in your game.

[9] Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) 3-0 [Q] Todd Harrity (Usa) 11-5, 11-4, 11-7 (39m)

Castagnet ends home hopes

France's Mathieu Castagnet ended U.S. interest in the main draw as he beat qualifier Todd Harrity in straight games.

The American champion held his own in the early part of the first game before Castagnet pulled clear, and led by a point of two for the first half of the third game.

But for the most part the Frenchman was well in command as he reached the third round for the first time in eight appearances.

I’m pretty happy with the way I played on this tournament, I was not expected to get that far, but today, I had to play really well to just hang in there!

More and more tournaments are being played in the US, and it’s nice to have a few supporters in the crowd! And it was really good to play home, I’m really happy I did well here.

Becoming a PSA squash pro is a bit strange in the US, normally, people just play in colleges and University. But now we have myself, Chris Gordon, Chris Hanson doing well, maybe there will be a few more players going pros…

I really wanted to congratulate Todd on his tournament, he just reached a Pakistan final a few days ago, and that’s never easy, not to mention he played really well in this tournament, and this match! He got me worried in the third, and boy was I glad he finally made two errors from 7/7!

I’m 29, and it’s my first time ever reaching the last 16; and it’s a bit of a belated birthday, as I turned 29 three days ago! But I’m a squash professional, so of course I want more, I want to reach the quarters, so a nice day of rest tomorrow and getting ready for that…

[6] Simon Rösner (Ger) 3-1 Nicolas Mueller (Sui) 11-6, 8-11, 11-6,11-7 (53m)

Rosner wins 'friendly'

That’s a match that Simon would have rather not played. Not sure that Nicki liked it that much either. Like James/Saurav later on, this was a “fratricide” match, two best pals, two mates, two brothers having to break the other’s heart to get to the next round of the most important tournament of the year.

Today, Simon dominated most of the rallies I have to say. If the talented German had a few bad starts and nervous matches, this was not one of them. He was fast on the ball, moving well and constructed the rallies very well and even led 7/0 in the first game…

Of course, Nicki retorted and found some lovely winners of his own, and even managed to pick the pace up to twist and turn the Tall German in the 2nd, playing some superb spells of stunning squash, equalising 1/1, 11/8 in the 2nd in 14m after a quicker 11 minute opener.

But from the third, a few nervous/tired errors at the start, 3/0 for Simon, and Nicki will play catch up for the rest of the game, with Simon finding his groove from 6/5 to 11/6 in 14m.

Simon again took control on the front of the court in the 4th, 4/1, 8/3, to finally take the match 11/6 in the shortest game of the match, 6m.

The sadness in Simon’s eyes was for everybody to see, and I can tell you he was truly sorry to break the wining streak of his mate… 1 in the first round since February. Mean, mean Simon…

Nicki is such a talented player, you could see I was serving on his body and he still was managed to put the ball away, I’m really happy to get through in 4.

It’s an advantage for both when you are as close as Nicki and I, we are very good friends, we train in the summer together, we share rooms in the tournaments, do exhibitions, and we both know each other’s game inside out.

But mentally, it’s very hard to play your best friend, especially when you know he’s been through some bad times, with injury for several months now. So I just hope he is fine, and that he’ll stay injury free in the future.

[5] Miguel Rodriguez (Col) 3-1 Campbell Grayson (Nzl) 16-18, 11-4, 11-5, 11-6 (75m)

High level of squash

What a first game that was my friends. I personally never saw Campbell play that well, and as freely as he did in this first 32m game. Yop, you read well, 32m of superb squash, monumental rallies, retrieving from Miguel, trying to contain an Attacking-At-Will Campbell!!! Miguel was pushed into 6 unforced errors in that opening game alone, that doesn’t happen a lot, and had 5 game balls from 10/8, without closing it.

It will take 4 of those from Campbell to take the game on a stroke confirmed by the video ref, 18/16….

The rest of the match will be controlled better by the Colombian, who, picking up the pace, was able to prevent time on the ball to this opponent. 3/0, 8/1 and 11/4 in the 2nd, 9m, then 4/0, 5/1, 10/3 and 11/5 in the same time.

The fourth was more disputed, and not a point between the players up to 6/6, with Miguel just flying to victory, upping the pace even more, scoring the last 5 points in one hand, 16m of again hard work from Campbell that never ever said die.

Great match.

Campbell played really well in the first game, mainly at his pace, so for the rest of the match I raised the pace, and I think it worked.

Hopefully, I will dive in the next round, thanks for asking, but I’m trying to save my energy, trying to move as well as I can!!

I’m happy with my performance, it had been a long time playing him, and next round Mathieu awaits, we always have great and tough battles…

I think I have played better matches, where everything just comes together, but yes, the first game was great.

After that, I didn’t react quickly enough, he picked up the pace, on a dead court. DP [David Pearson] was telling me to step it up, to push the court up, but I just didn’t manage to do it.

I was trying to keep it straight and simple, but I got sucked in his game, I had the same problem in the USA against Alfredo, you keep telling yourself to keep it simple, but you just get sucked in… And when you are hurting physically, it’s difficult to stay patient and keep the rallies going.

And he is so quick…

[3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-0 Omar Abdel Meguid (Egy) 11-3, 11-4, 11-4 (34m)

Greg in superb form

Omar struggled a bit to see the ball in the first game, 7/0, 9/1, 11/3 in 8m, but managed to produce some excellent squash in the second, even if the score doesn’t make it that obvious, 5/0, 8/3, 11/4 in 13m…

The third, Greg is completely in control to be honest, 10/1 math ball, with the Egyptian finally let the arm/racquet go, and showing his skills to save 3 match balls – to the delight the crowd. 11/4 in 9m for the French who truly was magisterial tonight

I’m moving well, I’m hitting the ball well, but he just didn’t give me enough time on the ball…

I’m trying to play my best every time. But sometimes, you are 100%, sometimes 90%, and sometimes, 0.5%!

I played better than I did two days ago, my movement was more fluid, but then again, it was against Lucas, a very dear friend. Not that Omar isn’t actually, I have a lot of respect for him, he is a good player.

I’m happy to see I’m raising my game day by day, match after match. We had such a hectic schedule since September, I was a bit tired in Qatar last week, but I’m feeling much better now. This is another tournament, a title that has been eluding me, but I’m not really thinking about the title at the moment, I’m just focusing on every match, on the day.

On a personal level, I really want to thank all the people that came this week to say a nice word to us, the texts and emails we are getting. That’s the way it should be I guess, when something that terrible happens anywhere in the world, we should be supporting each other, and let peace reign in the world…

James Willstrop (Eng) 3-0 [16] Saurav Ghosal (Ind) 11-7, 11-7, 11-7 (41m)

Was tonight the night for Saurav?

Those two great friends have played 8 times officially, last time being during the Commonwealth Games last summer in Glasgow, and 8 times, James won.

But with James now number 24 in the world, behind his mate 17th, and having had some pretty tough time to try and come back on top of his game, was Saurav finally going to beat the jinx?

James played a superb squash tonight, and adapted to the glass, coming from a first round on a traditional court against Ben Coleman, as he never left it.

Despite a few too may errors in the first game – 4 I counted – and a backhand length that seemed a bit absent at the end of the game, James managed to take the opener, 11/7 in 13m, starting to get into the Indian brain, forcing him to be on the backfoot and run an awful lot, even Saurav put the English under pressure as well…

The second is a bit more dominated by the shot variation and court coverage from the former world number 1 who get rather quickly to 10/4. It’s Saurav turn to make a lot of unforced errors, 5, but he’ll save 3 game ball, to bow 11/7.

Strangely enough, the third and last game will be on exactly the same pattern, James gets to match ball at 10/4, a little drop in intensity while Saurav gives it a big push and finds the best squash of the match, but it’s the same end result, 11/7, in exactly the same time, 11m…

I haven’t won a match like that, I mean, and 3/0, for… I haven’t really got a lot of those matches under my belt so I’m absolutely chuffed to bits to be able to put that together like that really. You forget how to do it a little bit and you’ve got to relearn it which I’ve been doing for a few months now and tonight it came together.”

Saurav’s been in great form and has just beaten Cuskelly who has been absolutely flying. I respect and admire Saurav so much, we train together, and he always seems to play well against me, and seeing him play that well, and I had to play really well to beat him. We’re good friends and we know we can go and play hard squash. We know each other really, well respect each other and I think that helps so we can play good squash.

I so love it, being able to play like that again, and compete like that again…

Yes, of course I would like to win it, but I’m 32, I come back from surgery, I don’t want to sound negative, but there are much more things on my mind at the moment than winning the title! I just try and take match by match, and if things go according to seeding, I should play the World Number 1, which is a fantastic opportunity… But I’ll shut up now, because they haven’t played yet, and I shouldn’t even talking about the match…

[1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-1 Tom Richards (Eng) 11-8, 11-5, 11-2 (31m)

Tom Richards went into his match against top seed and world #1 Mohamed Elshorbagy 0-5 down in the head to heads, but that didn't deter him from taking the game to Mohamed Elshorbagy as he stayed ahead on the scoreboard, leading 7-5.

The Egyptian recovered to take the lead, and after Richards took a short injury timeout early in the second the result was never in doubt.

I thought that Tom was playing really well in the first game, I was always behind him, and I was lucky to take the first game. You know, if he finished the game – he knew he was not going to be able to win tonight because of his injury – it was out of respect for the audience, and out of respect for me. You see so many people just walking out when they are injured, Tom showed a lot of respect, and I really appreciate it.

I’ve been working with Jonah Barrington for 9 years now, he won the title 6 times, I just hope that one day, I can achieve what he has achieved, and I’m so lucky to have somebody like him in my corner.

Well, it’s funny how the Shorbagy family seem to be condemned to finished the night! Me twice, last night, my brother as well! Anyway, going to rest and recover tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to playing James, who was playing very well tonight, he was sharp and it’s really good to have him back on form, we had a few hard battles over the years…

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