2015 Men's World Championship Bellevue - Day SEVEN
REPORTS: Farag | Gaultier | Rodriguez | Willstrop
Mosaad | Ashour | Matthew | Momen

Ali Farag (Egy) 3-1 [6] Simon RŲsner (Ger) 7-11, 13-11, 11-6, 11-9 (77m)

ALI IMPOSES HIS GAME

Another match that was played in the head. Not on skills, or fitness, but just a mental battle, just a tactical chess game today yet again.

Two styles of play: Simon, so strong and hard hitter, with superb volley skills, who likes to play fast and furious. Ali, not that powerful Ė although he can hit hard Ė but his game is a mid pace spiderman kind of feel, taking any pace off the ball really, making you do all the work and not opening the court enough for you to have fun! So you want to create your own fun, and often, you do it from the wrong position and you end up with a tinÖ or a winnerÖ

Letís remind ourselves what happened 3 weeks ago. Those two played in the first round of the US Open, and Simon won 7-11, 12-10, 13-11, 11-4 in 69m. As in, pretty close indeed. And they were both very conscious of that: the top guy wanted to prevent the same close match, and the contender knew he had a chance.

In the opener, excellent start for Simon, 3/0, 4/1. Blood injury break, 18m, and when he comes back, Ali scores 5 points in a row. ďThat gave me confidence I could beat him todayĒ he confessed. Ali drew Simon in his web, but Simon is alert, and can see what is happening. He speeds up the pace, pushed physically his opponent, 6/6, 7/7, and a huge rally absolutely kills Aliís resistance, heíll make 3 tins in a row and Simon looks bleeping good, 11/7 in 14 effective game time.

Again a great start for Simon in the 2nd, 3/1, and he keeps that advantage all the way to 8/6, always a little cushion. The pace is high, Simon is in control, and Fairest Farag, normally very quiet and the kind you want to introduce to your parents suddenly goes Yalllah at every shot, getting more and more pumped up bless him!

An that seems to work for great for him. He comes back to 8/8, 9/9. A no let will will Simon game ball, 10/9, and heíll even have another chance at 11/10, but itís the Egyptian that clinches the game 13/11, who celebrates his victory by a HUUUUUUUUGE COOOOOMMME OOOOON!!!!!! So out of character. Ali is on the war path.

As the match follows exactly the pattern of their previous match, we think we are on for a feisty 3rd, but no, Simon seems no, not tired, but just mentally disheartened. Heíll go down, 7/1, 8/3 before he seems to get back in the energy, heíll lose that one in 8m, 11/6.

And energy the German has indeed in the 4th, 3/0 up he goes. But Ali is attracting him in his game again, and we are back in the mental battle, you play MY game, no YOU play MINE. Rallies are superb, breathtaking, lovely and ridiculous pick-ups and boasting from both. 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6, 8/8, 9/9. A superb battle at the front of the court, and a last counterdrop Simon cannot return, match ball for the Egyptian. And with a ridiculous nick roll winner, Ali is sealing his victory.

For his first ever World Champs, he just reached the corners. ďIím in 7th HeavenĒ. You bet.

Simon is such a great player, he beat me in the US Open, so to get my revenge here is unbelievableÖ Oh whaoooo, oh whaoooo, I feelÖ I have no wordÖ 7th Heaven!!!!

I was lucky at the start when we have the injury break to have Hossam to stop the bleeding, and Shabana for the mental side, he helped me to stay focused, he told me how he dealt with those situations, and it really helped me.

It was good for me to have that good spell in the first, because otherwise, I wouldnít have believed in my chances in beating him today.

As Shabana said, mix it up, and if you give him anything in the middle, heíll crush you, thatís how lethal he is.

The spectators are our fuel, to feel appreciated is the most wonderful feeling in the world, and itís nice to see the hard work is payingÖ

What a feeling that is, absolutely delighted, when I saw the draw in the US Open, I thought I had a chance if I was playing my best, and here I am in the quarters, 3 more to goÖ

[3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-0 Karim Ali Fathi (Egy) 11-5, 11-3, 11-3 (28m)

Greg eases through

What ended up as the shortest match of the day saw four-time runner-up Gregory Gaultier continue his impressive run so far as he dismissed young Egyptian Karim Ali Fathi in straight games to reach a seventh consecutive - and ninth overall - quarter-final.

He had a great tournament, he has created a few surprises, a few upsets, I thought it was time to stop the upset!!

He had a great victory in the second round, when he beat Fares in a very long match, and if he moved very well in the first few rallies, I quickly realised he was really struggling with his movement,

So I made sure I was keeping the rallies going instead of killing the ball, and made him even more tired!

But well done to him for such a great tournament really.

Iíve been feeling the ball well and moving good on court so far this week so Iíve been able to get off without spending too much time on court

Which is important because tomorrow is a big match. Ali was sharp today and Iím going to have to be prepared for that.

[5] Miguel Rodriguez (Col) 3-1 [9] Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) 7-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-2 (75m)

MIGUEL IS OFFICIALLY A FITNESS ALIEN

What that boy Ė now the only ever South American to reach this level of the competition Ė retrieved and run today is nothing short of astonishing.

Mathieu is fit, you know, and played out of his skin today, but Miguel, just, well.. killed him. Both mentally and physically.

First game was a superb display from the Frenchman, 29, just turned 8, who pushed his opponent, same age, nį5, to make 6 uncharacteristic errors. 4/1 to Mat, but Miguel comes back, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6. Mathieu is leading the dance though and takes the game 11/7 in 18m. Thatís longÖ. The rallies are gruelling, intense, in the four cornersÖ

The second is completely dominated by the Colombian, who has now picked up the pace, and leads 7/3, 9/5 only to see my compatriot coming back into the game when he gets a no let that seems very harsh and a ball that he thinks is down. Heíll claw back to 8/9, on adrenalin, but loses the game 11/9, 24m.

The third will be the turning point, with nothing between the players from 1/1 to 7/7, and rallies that you HAVE to watch on SquashTV, pure magic between two lunatics that really get the ball to every space of the court.

At 7/7, a rally that Iím sure went over 100 strokes. I was just incredible. Just impossible what Miguel managed to save, what Mathieu volleyed, and run, both running, and attacking and retrieving and changed angles, height, pace. Miguel takes it with a backhand driveÖ

And Mathieu is broken. Heíll tin three shots to lose the game, 11/7 in Ďonlyí 17m, and wonít be able to compete in the 4th, just broken down in little pieces, 11/2 in 6m.

Comment from the French team: ďthe man is a machineĒ.

That was pretty hard, itís always the case with Mathieu, he is tricky, talented, tough physically and mentally. In the first game, he played very well, and I had really to push very hard in the second and third to break his rhythm. I think at the end of the match, I was stronger physically than me.

Iím so proud to be the first South American to reach the quarters. Iíve played all the Worlds since Cairo, apart from Rotterdam, and I think Iím playing my best squash right now. Reaching that level of the competition is amazing, unique and very specialÖ

Iím happy that people appreciate my game, my style, I think they like the turns and the dives, but itís sometimes not energy efficient, so Iím trying not to do it too often, but sometimes, you have to do it! Iím just trying to be as strong mentally as I can, but itís in my blood!

That rally in the 3rd, I was very aware he was pretty tired, I tried and serve as quickly as possible, and force the same speed, the same intensity. From that point on, 2/1 up, Mathieu probably thought it was going to be impossible to come back. And in the 4th, I played very good squash, I didnít make any errors, and all my shots went in.

James Willstrop (Eng) 3-1 [1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 11-4, 11-7, 10-12, 11-7 (64m)

THAT ONE, I NEVER SAW COMING

I need to apologise to James. I never ever ever ever ever would have predicted that one. I just counted him out. For me Ė and I would guess for a lot of people, Mohamed was in the final.

I had a few signs though, Mohamed has had a pretty busy season. And his win in Qatar last year Ė although great for his confidence Ė maybe didnít do much good for his legs and his mental focus. I know, I know, you are thinking there she goes again, taking away the victory from the winner. Iím not.

I just know things that maybe not everybody thinks or knows? If Iím knackered, and I have only done 2 events, with only 10 hours jet lag, how do the players feel? Greg was dead in Qatar and still reached the final, Mohamed acknowledged it in his quote after the win. Why shouldnít I take notice of Mohamed fatigue?

Now, about James. Gentleman James had it not that easy for the past 18 months. Heís been trough a few humbling moments, and as he told me after his match in the first round ďOn my day, any player can beat meĒ. Thatís a former number 1 talking, at 32, and a finalist in 2010 yet, unseeded here.

Whatever Mohamed's state, tired or not, James played one of the best matches of his life today. And I have seen him play a fewÖ He basically took Mohamed to the throat, and never let go. Ever. And Mohamed, with the pressure on him Ė and I donít think people realise how hard it is for him that everybody expect Ramy to win this when he is the one working his racquet off day in day out Ė just wasnít able to find his top squash to contain the Yorkshire man.

First game is over in 9 minutes, we are stunned. James is at the top of his game. Thatís when I realise I never even considered Mohamed could lose, 11/4 James.

The second, Mohamed, who let James dictate the pace in the opener, just goes up 5 gear, twisting and turning James but the Englishman just stays in control, and goes up a couple of points ahead, to get comfy at 9/4. Mohamed knows he is in great danger, heíll score 4 points giving it a big push, but James takes it back, and take the second, 11/7 in 11m.

When Mohamed comes back, he is angry, angry at himself for being in the situation. And he goes for the ďwinning uglyĒ attitude that helped him so many times. He doesnít mean that he is playing ugly.

It means he gets in the mental attitude of the winner, no matter what. Itís very positive for Mohamed, it saved him a few times. A few discussions with the ref, Damien Green warning both players to clear the ball, Mohamed complaining that James is not moving at all, and preventing access to the ball. James is not happy with Mohamed chatting. Itís all happening.

Tense, intense, come to mind to describe this one.

1/1. 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6, 7/7. James suddenly gets the lead, 10/7, and itís match ball. But Mohamed knows those situations, he lived them, again and again. He steps up the pace, raises his game, and scores the following 5 points and take the game 12/10 in 22m. The crowd is going wild.

And to be truthful, I thought that was it for James. I thought Mohamed was still going to take it in 5, and then struggle against Miguel tomorrow. But I again didnít see James again, finding those ridiculous shots again, attacking everything on the planet and on the next one for that matter. On one foot, on the head. It was James at his best. Truly. No fear. No pressure. Just pure flair.

And like in the 3rd, James went from 6/6, 7/7 to 10/7, thanks a tin from Mohamed, to set up that fourth match ball for James: it was to be the one. In 64m, James just took out the favourite of the tournament.

Standing ovation for a very emotional James that just couldnít speak. That doesnít happen often. Both: him crying and him being speechless.

Iím sorryÖ what was that all about, me crying, itís only sport for crying outÖ.

Of course, itís a great win, to be able to compete at the level, being able to do what I do, what I love to do, being able to perform at my best to beat a fantastic player, World number one.

But itís much more than a squash match, itís about all those people that have been helping me over those past months.

Itís much much more than squash. Itís peopleís days and lives and efforts - itís such as selfish game but so many people behind the scenes are so selfless and I want to acknowledge everyone. I feel very lucky to do what I do and to play like that today is a hat off to all the people whoíve supported me.

In context of everything itís maybe one of my best ever performance). When I got to No.1 I was ready to be No.1 but I havenít played to that kind of level for so long. Itís probably about as good as Iíve ever played all things considered.

After being out and not knowing where I am and the process Iíve had to go through - I havenít had many chances to play at the level and pace of a player like Mohamed Elshorbagy and when I play did in May I was nowhere near that level.

Itís been a slow process and itís taken a while to get moment into it and maybe now that Iíve been going since January my body is getting used to the training load and match play again. But because itís been so long itís certainly a turn-up for the books

There are times when Iíve left a match and said I didnít get the rub of the green or things didnít go my way - but no doubt about it I had the rub of the green today. My shots were going into nicks and clinging when they could have hit the wall. People always say, even the best, that you always need a little bit of luck in matches and tournament. I had to play great squash no doubt about it and I couldnít afford to put a foot wring against him, but no question, things went my way as well.

The only phase it didnít was when he stifled me at the end of the third and saved the match balls from 10-7. It would be easy to think negatively at the end of that third game but I looked at it and told myself Ďyouíre 2-1 up and youíre in the leadí. Maybe the momentum has changed a bit, but you are still in the lead. Itís all about that physiology. It was disappointing to lose but there was nothing I could do about it - I didnít get down about it. I just did what I needed to do in the fourth and it worked.

I feel great for the moment but I canít get too carried away - itís not the end. This is the biggest tournament in the world and I need to get myself together now for the next round. Iíve won but I need to perform again tomorrow. Itís as simple as that.


Bad days in the office can happen but I do hate it when it happens in big tournaments!! Good to see James back at his best though!
 
But one thing I know for sure....I will be back!!
 
Mohamed Elshorbagy on twitter!

[7] Omar Mosaad (Egy) 3-1 [14] Borja Golan (Esp) 6-11, 11-4, 11-2, 13-11 (65m)

Mosaad makes the quarters

Four Egyptians would make it through to the last eight, and although Omar Mosaad has been in the world's top ten and is seeded seven, he'd never previously made the quarter-finals.

Spain's Borja Golan made him work hard, very hard to get through to a first quarter-final, taking the first game and threatening to take the match into a decider as he saved three match balls in the fourth before finally succumbing.

 

Itís really hard to play long matches back-to-back.

Iím really happy with my squash today. i think I did a good job especially after yesterdayís 3-2 and Iím really happy to win today be into the quarter-finals.

I feel Ramy is playing a national tournament - heís plying all-Egyptians! It will be a great match between him and Karim. Iíll enjoy watching it while Iím stretching and just make sure Iím prepared for tomorrow.

[4] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-1 [12] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)
                  11-6, 12-10, 8-11, 11-7 (54m)

Ashour still going strong

I was curious to see how Ramy would cope with the major upset that was Mohamed Ė his most dangerous opponent on the tour, who still never beat him in a PSA tournament. Came close though, Match ball in El Gouna - 4? - Match ball in Qatar. But as long as Mohamed was on course, the pressure was on him. Suddenly, a bit like when Borg retired, McEnroe was upset. Nobody to match up with. I know for a fact that Mohamed didnít like seeing Ramy retiring from the US Open and consecutively from Qatar. Was Ramy equally going to be unsettled by his early exit?

It didnít seem so in the first part of the match. Very focused in the first game, Ramy zoomed up to 7/2, 8/4, 10/5 taking the game 11/6 in 9m. It looked like the Artist was going for an easy 3/0 like for their two previous matches, 4 years ago.

But Karim is not top 10 for nothing you know, and when Ramy relaxed a bit at 10/6 up in the second, Karim started to chase every shot, and not only retrieved, but found some pretty amazing shots himself Ė the fact that Ramy forgot the meaning of the word LENGTH probably helped too. Karim scored 4 points in a score, not a tin from Ramy, really scored them, but Ramy finally stops him 12/10 amazingly enough, with the first unforced error in the game from Karim Ė and his second only on the whole match!

And our Ramy probably started thinking about the 12,504 thoughts heís got by the minute, Mohamed probably one of them, forgetting how dangerous his opponent could be. And Karim just rolled him into batter, and ate him raw in a sushi roll, 4/0, 8/3, 10/6! Ramy was trying to contain him, but the shots were too good, too fast, too inventive. 11/8 Karim in 8 minutes.

The 4th is not comfy for the Artist at all! He tins 4 shots in 8 points, but at 5/5 finally, Karim is showing signs of tiredness, not surprising with the work produced. Heíll still fight, 6/6, 7/7.

At 8/7 Ramy, Karim gets a let he thinks is stroke, then a no let that he finds very harsh. ďThe ball is very highĒ he says. The ref: ďthe ball was too good, you couldnít have reached itĒ. And a spectator: ďHave you been watching the match???Ē

Karim now a bit out of focused, not happy with the calls, and add insult to injury, heíll lose the match on a strokeÖ.

To be noted that in that 4th, Ramy started diving again, twice. Good move, Ramy, just go and break your bionic leg/hip/shoulder, see if we careÖ

About Mohamed losing, I have so much in my mind I cannot handle any more, itís just crazy, I just glad that the energy of the upset didnít get to meÖ I can only say there is no guarantees, thatís my favourite quote, anyone can beat anyone on the day.

I could have stayed home and play the Nationals, itís crazy, Iíve only been playing Egyptians, but then again, it cannot get any worse, can it. And they all go for their shots.. He was moving so well, you canít hear him move, thatís why, 50% of the times, he was there on the shot I played, because he donít hear his feet on the floor, he just floats out there..

Iím fine physically, although I havenít played at the level for a while, he is very relaxed on court, a bit like ďOh, I was just passing by, so Iím just going to play in the tournament thenĒ kind of feel coming from him. So itís very confusing he is so fast, both mentally and physically strong.

We havenít played that often itís good for us both, itís good to play different people. And I feel fine. I wouldnít have been able to beat him today they way he played if I wasnít 100%.

I was playing well, and up 2/0 and I got too comfortable, starting to think about something else, and that was a huge error, I stopped thinking about the match for a second, and the minute you start doing that, you are being punished, your ego is being punished. You learn something with every match.

I really would like to thank the people that have made this tournament happen, Shabana Khan and her team, and the Sponsors, thanks ever so much, itís the first time that tournament is playing in the USA, it was very courageous of Shabana and of all the sponsors that made it happen. Thanks again to all.

Iím very happy with the way I played, Iím in the quarters of the Worlds, thatís a big deal. Itís all about not expecting too muchÖ

I remember the first times I played him, I even couldnít see the ball! Everybody know how talented he is, both front and back of the court, no need to stress that one out. So today, I tried to enjoy it, keeping my shots tight to the side to minimise his winners as much as I could.

Iím very happy with the way I have been playing those past months, with the hard work Iíve done to improve on the physical side.

I really enjoyed the match, until 7/7 that is, where I got three bad decisions, I wouldnít have minded losing, but those decisions leave me a bit sad really. I would have rather it would have a different finished.

It was the first time every I was able to really compete with him on court, and truly, I wish him good luck for the tournament, itís nice to see him play and on court, he is such a great ambassador for our sport.

[2] Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-0 [10] Marwan Elshorbagy (Egy) 13-11, 12-10, 11-5 (53m)

NICK MATTHEW: IíM STILL HERE!

This was a very dangerous banana skin for the three times world Champ. Marwan, left alone to defend the Shorbagyís honour, was on the war path from the word go, and imposed his patient and gruelling game to Nick, setting up two game balls 10/8. Nick grinded them out, saving another game ball at 11/10 before closing it down 13/11.

The second was more controlled by Nick, who physically managed to dominate the middle of the court, finding his pace mid game, 8/4, 10/5 game ball. Did he relax a bit? I donít think so. Marwan, like his brother, has the ability to relax the arm and just string points, finding a positive momentum out of nowhere. And Nick will only manage to clinch the second 12/10, on a not up called by Marwan Ė not the refÖ.

The third is a very high mountain to climb, 3/0 5/2, 8/3, 9/5. Again Marwan calls his shot not up, to set up match ball, and Nick finishes it with an AceÖ

Not a good evening for the Shorbagys. But Marwan is close, veryyyyy close. And as for the World number 1, he said ďOne thing is sure, Iíll be backĒ. I have noooooo doubt.

He was playing incredible squash for the first two games, I was 2/0 up I could easily have been 2/0 down, 1/1 would have been a fair reflection of the match.

He had the lead in the first, I had the lead in the second. It was a bit of a roll of fortune, I took advantage of it, he mentally got a bit deflated in the third, plus a bit of my experience played its role at the end.

No more day off now, unless you lose, youíd could have all the days off you want, so I hope no more day off until the end now, those opponents get quicker and quicker, so Iím going to have some stretching and then a few ladder drills to prepare for tomorrowÖ

[8] Tarek Momen (Egy) 3-1 Gregoire Marche (Fra) 7-11, 11-3, 11-3, 11-7 (55m)

TAREK ON A CLOUD

What a pleasure to see Tarek play at his best again. The boy Ė yes, he is a man, but I still see him as the 16 years old boy he was when I met him the first time in Sheffield.

Yes, Grťgoire was flat today. ďPas de jusĒ was his comment after the match, and even Thierry Lincou Ė who was talking to him on the phone Ė couldnít get him back the nervous influx he would have need to keep the pressure on his opponent.

After a very glorious first game - Tarek making his usual Iím going to check that the tin is firmly fixed to the wall so Iíll hit it hard racquet trick, I counted 6 and I only arrived at 3/0 TGreg Ė the French just had no legs left really. Tarek walked away with the second 10/1, 11/3 in still 14m, that is to show how hard TGreg worked, about the same story in the 3rd, 5/0, 7/1, 11/3 in 8. The fourth, pride comes into it, the Frenchman gives it a big push, but Tarek is still too strong, 6/3, 7/3, 9/5, 10/6 to take the match 11/7Ö

I stand by my words yesterday. If Tarek can keep this level of squash, heíll be a serious contender for the title.

Itís my first time ever in the quartersÖ

You have no idea how happy I am to play the way I played. You have no idea, truly, because I went through a lot, and even in the match against Joe Lee, I was down, 2/0 4/0 and I really thought I would lose that one, and I would stop everything for a while. Itís all fine lines, little details, that can make you go one way or another.

I knew Grťgoire would be a bit tired, he had a massive win against Coppinger. It didnít show in the first game, but then again, we did a lot of running in the first, and I could see he was struggling after that, unforced errors crept inÖ.

Iím happy I didnít have any loss of concentration today, happy to get through in 3 and I really want to thank the people that stayed here to watch us until uncanny hours. Thanks guys, your support is really appreciated, and please I hope youíll keep coming back for the rest of the weekÖ

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