R2: Abouelghar 3-0 James

[5] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 3-0 Declan James (ENG) 11-7, 11-6, 11-9 (44m)

A very strong and intense first game, with not much between the two, only the strokes making the difference, 4 for Abou, only 1 for Declan. A few errors at the start as well for the Englishman (2), and none after that. Nerves….  from 2/2, the Egyptian was in control, 5/3, 9/4, 10/6 11/7, 13m of excellent squash.

Second, about the same with I felt Declan a bit too passive to really put the Egyptian under pressure, 2/2, couple of errors there from the English, up to 7/2, 9/3. A good spell for Dec, stepping up the court, 6/9, but it’s again Abou that closes it 11/6 in 13m again, 8 winners for 0 errors, 1 stroke. 4 winners for the English, 2 errors and 2 strokes.

The third is the most interesting, same game up to 7/3, but did Abou relax a bit or did Declan finally let go of caution, and went for it brilliantly. Superb squash, with the crowd logically supporting him, 5 points in a row for Declan, up to 8/7. The end of the game is nail-biting, 8/8, 9/9, but a stroke and another forehand kill played a bit too early, that find the tin, and it’s 11/9 in 16m, the longest game of the match…

Declan :

In the third, I don’t think I changed anything really, I just tried to hang in there and stay a bit longer in the match, trying to force a fourth. But my backhand length was not working today, and I offered him too many opportunities to attack me.

I tried to do my best but when your basic game is not in place, it’s not going to be easy…

Abou :

I’ve always had tough matches against Dec, he’s such a great player. I knew how crucial the third game was and I’m very happy to close this one out.

At 7/3, I think he just went for it, and gave it a big push. At 7/7, I realise how dangerous this could be so I made sure I contained him a bit better and I was lucky as he gave me a couple of cheap points. Very relieved to take the match in three.

I started working with Wael El Hindi last season and it has started paying off big time. With him I work on the mental side of my squash. And I’ve got to accept that you cannot be 10 out of 10 all the time, and that it’s ok sometimes to accept that you are not playing your best. But I’m so stubborn sometimes I keep going for it, when it’s just not working. So I am learning to just let go and go back to basics.

I’m happy with the relationship and hopefully we can keep on going…