Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) 3-2 Declan James (ENG) 11-9, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-6 (67m)
Breathtaking match today, between those two gifted warriors. Very few people were allowed to watch, but among them, Karim Darwish, Squash director at Wadi Degla, Omar Abdel Aziz, Youssef’s coach, and also Youssef’s brother, Karim Ibrahim, who was working with us last week in the CIBFinals. And I think they played a strong role mentally to keep the GoldenBoy going….
I only saw the last game, but I know that in the fourth, Youssef was way ahead scorewise, with Dec catching up with the score, and only losing 11/9, it was so close, we were back 2/2, and everything was possible.
Another superb start from the Egyptian, 4/0, 9/3, with those lefthanders flicks all over the court, Declan retrieving stunningly but on the wrong end of very long rallies. In view of the finishing line, the Princeton boy started relaxing a fraction of a second, and that was enough for the Englishman to find his second wind, forcing two errors out of the Egyptian racquet, followed by a stroke, 6/9. A stunning return of serve, match ball, 10/6.
A completely crazy rally, one more I would say, the level of squash, the pace was just surreal especially for the 5th game, and a ball that seems good but goes all funny. Match to Ibrahim, declares the ref. “no, no, the ball is good, it just touched the towel box, the ball is 100% good”. I was front row, but they were in front of me, so I couldn’t see it. “Match to Ibrahim” confirms the ref. “the ball is 100% good” repeats Declan, “you’ve got that wrong”, with a polite and contain voice, controlling his emotions, sitting down…
I’m always amazed how the players can not lose it when they feel unjustly treated. Not sure I would have had the same self control. Oh who am I kidding. I would have never had that self control.
A very happy Egyptian, and a very happy Egyptian clan…
It means so much. It’s the first time I reach the last 16 of a platinium. Once in the worlds, I played Cuskelly and I was up but I just couldn’t close it, I couldn’t believe in myself enough to finish it off, and my fitness was not good enough, so mental strength goes together…
It’s a new phase for me, I’m happy to overcome that block, especially against somebody as tough as Declan, who doesn’t give you any freebies. Maybe he got a bit tired at the end, I tried to push him in the four corners, and to take a good lead because if you play point by point with him, he is too dangerous.
It means so much, so much. I need to thank my family, who was here today, Karim Darwish and Omar Abdel Aziz my coach, they sure made a difference in the 4th and 5th, and I’m so happy because I promised Sami Farag that he would able to watch me at the Pyramids, as he couldn’t come today because I didn’t have a free spot for him.