R3:  Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-0 Youssef Ibrahim (Egy) 11-9, 11-4, 12-10 (44m)
First time I saw Youssef, who I immediately nicknamed GoldenBoy, he was I think 18 at the time, it was in Wadi Degla 2016, against Grégoire Marche. He took a game off the Acrobate and believe me, it was a beautiful show. Since, I saw him fight against Ryan Cuskelly, Daryl Selby, in nearly 2h matches, while studying at Princeton University… Needless to say he is one of the hot hopes of the Egyptian Squash, one more you might say…
Youssef used to have two problems. One, his fitness was not top, and two his head was sometimes a bit all over the place, the two going of course together. Now, a few years later, the brain is in the correct place, he has been training with Sami Farag for the fitness, and it shows.
And maybe it shows a bit too much? Hear me out. In the first game, Youssef was so confident with his fitness he challenged Paul. He nearly won but trying to match Paul Coll as his own game, making the rallies extremely long and mid pace, quite conservatively pushing the ball to the back, yes, but Paul can do that all day. And it was to the Kiwi’s advantage, 9/5. Still, a good push from the Egyptian, we are back at 9/9, but an error at that crucial moment – that’s when he choses to go for too much too early bless him, and it’s game ball Paul, too much experience to miss it out, 11/9 in 18m for the Vice-World Champion.
The third sees finally the young Egyptian, 21, finding the right balance between being patient but yet being aggressive. His squash, his magic starts to show, he puts the Kiwi under pressure at the front, finds a good accuracy at the back, and both of them battle away for 15m.2/2, 3/3, 6/3 for Paul, but out of the blue, the short winners start rolling in, and it’s 6 points in a row for the Golden Boy.
Now, Paul doesn’t want to let it slip to a fourth game. He catches up 9/9 but gets the ball out of court, 10/9 game ball. A superb backhand kill powers it out, 10/10, and unfortunately, inexperience at the level creates 2 errors, and it’s match to Superman, whose victory roar was heard all the way to Alexandria…
“I’m super excited for this week.
“I wasn’t feeling like myself last week. I got myself going this week and I’m feeling really good out there, I just want to get back to being myself on court and using the emotion I’ve got locked inside of me.
“I had some other stuff going on in my life last week that was a lot more important than squash. I wasn’t in the head space to compete against top 10 people, I went home reset myself and talked to people really close to me and I’m ready to rock this week.
“It’s my first time playing Youssef. He’s a great guy, I was struggling to get into practice this morning and he kindly pulled some strings and spoke to some people and got me in. First time playing him and really meeting him and it’s great to have people like that on tour.”