Mazen Hesham (Egy) 3-2  Ali Farag (Egy) 11-5, 11-7, 9-11, 1-11, 12-10 (66m)
I’m always so grateful when the player that didn’t win – I hate the word L, sue me – takes upon himself/herself to talk to me. It’s such a privilege and it’s not going noticed. Thanks to you guys…
Today, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Ali didn’t wish to talk right after the match. It was such a heartbreaking loss for him. Firstly, Mr Fantastic hadn’t lost in a PSA match against Mazen since Qatar 2015 (Thanks SquashInfo). So I guess a sort of Pride comes into play. But in the match itself, when you are dominated 6/0, 9/1, 10/2 in the opener, then 6/0, 8/3 in the second, you put your heart and soul to clinch the third, 11/9, zoom in the 4th in 4m, only to not being able to close the match on your match ball, bowing 12/10 at the end…
Heartbreaking: “probably out of all the losses so far, the most disappointing” he smiled sadly after the match…
Thing is, with Mazen, sometimes, like with Ramy, Gawad or Abouelghar, you might have to look like a beginner for a few too many rallies. But sometimes, some errors creep in, that might give you a little foot in the door of the match.
Was it going to be the case tonight?
A 10m first game, 10/2 11/5, only 2 errors from Mazen, none from Ali but giving away three strokes, so uncharacteristic – not moving well enough.
Second, a better game from the World Champion, but still such a slow start, unable to push Mazen far enough at the back, allowing him to attack in his comfort zone, while have a long way to pick those lethal attacks up.
11/7 in 15m. Ali was managing to put a bit more work in Mazen’s legs, getting a few errors, 3 from the Falcon’s racquet. None from Ali, and no stroke awarded in that game.
The Falcon started to make a few more errors, giving away 6 points in that game alone, but Ali also offered 4 in that 16m game. Ali finally able to find some good length/width, up on the T, and having far less journey to get to his opponent sharp attacks in front of the court. That made all the difference at the end, fine details… 5/2 6/3 Ali, enormous gigantic rallies, back we are at 8/8, 9/9.
At that point alone, two decisions with review, a stroke for Ali that becomes a let and a no let that will stay a no let against Mazen. Game ball 10/9, a lovely winner for Ali, and it’s 11/9 for the former WR1.
Mazen, rather unhappy with a few decisions from the ref, and being a bit tired, just gives away the fourth, 4m 9/0, 11/1.
The fight is nail bitting the whole way, 1/1, 2/2, 4/2 Ali. 5 points in a row for Mazen, 7/4. Ali fights back, 7/7, 8/8, 9/9, and match ball 10/9.
A gigantic ridiculous rally, and the match ball is saved with a backhand drive glued to the sidewall. And Mazen finally gets the win he wanted against his Wadi Degla team mate 12/10, last game another long 16m.
“Oh, my God, thirteen eh [PSA matches against Farag] ? I knew it was a lot to be honest, like having lost the last eight. I haven’t been Ali for so long. I think I had beaten him and got injured, And then after this, like he was killing everybody, you know, like Ali have been dominating the tour,”
“Like, I know him and Mohamed, you know, for so long now. So, I mean, like to get the win over him is still like a very, very like happy moment for me.
“Obviously I always expect more from myself, I would say like I want to beat these guys and where I want to go more of, I think it’s just like, I’ll take it step by step, you know? I’m happy with the win today, happy with how I fought today after losing two games in the third and the fourth.
“Ali, I think he was very, very smart. In the fourth he caught me by surprise. Lob on drop, lob and drop. I was like 6-0 down. I think I did the right thing, just to kind of… Just let this game go and fight hard in the fifth. And it worked, as I said, I’m really happy to get the win over him.
“I wish him the best for the rest of this year. I think he’s getting better and better every tournament. So it’s good to have him there, like it’s good to play with these guys and try to beat them while they play you know?”
Obviously, this is right after the match, so sometimes this is not always the best as the emotions are running high.
I feel that my movement is getting better by the day, but it’s still not 100%, and Mazen is not the kind of player you want to play when you are not at 110%! He stops and starts all the time, with his high swing and his holds.
I was struggling to read that and I needed to nullify that by hitting good length, but as you mentioned, my length was terrible in the first game. In the second, not that bad, but he still got a great start, 6/0, although I was not playing badly.
I needed to put that investment earlier on, I shouldn’t have let a full game go without investment, I was a little out of source. Then my investment in the second started paying off in the third, and obviously in the 4th.
And when you go with Mazen at 2/2, it’s a flip of a coin.
I feel like my squash is getting better, my fitness is getting better, my movement is getting better, but all those elements still need to get better to compete with those top guys. I’m proud to have fought till the very end, and very happy for Mazen, as he really deserves to be in the later rounds of major events.
I would have needed to play more than 3 matches in a row, as I didn’t manage that yet. But obviously, you can’t control when your opponent is playing better than you.
I think I’m on the right track, it is a little disappointing, probably out of all the losses so far the most disappointing, but then it’s part of the process, you can’t climb up the ladder all the time, sometimes you stay at the same level, or even go down, to prepare to get yourself back up again.
I’m happy with the process, I can’t dwell too much on it, another tournament coming up in 10 days, and another one in three weeks, and I have to train very hard and hopefully, getting firing again.