Nici on fire, Ali only just…

R3: [1] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-2 Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 10-12, 11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7 (77m)

Don’t cut your finger before playing a third round on a glasscourt in front of the Pyramids against one of the quickest shooter of the PSA Tour, that’s my advice… Throughout the match, Ali was struggling with his grip, with the band, and that really took his mind off the game.

Nici can be proud of his performance. He only bowed slightly making a few too many errors in the third (4 UE plus giving away 2 strokes, that 6 points offered to Ali on a plate) and again in the 5th, tiredness playing its role – no wonder with the ridiculous pace those two played today I have to say – 4 again in particular at the start of that decider, which gave the Egyptian confidence and a nice cushion 5/1. But the hard work the Swiss produced during the lockdown showed today, the Old Nici would have tinned about 23 balls in that 1st…

The pace that was played today was surreal, especially when you realise those two never slowed down really. My thoughts are that Ali played right in Nici’s hand by trying to match the Swiss at his own game, as strangely enough, Nici is better at it!

Ali is “lucky” to get away with it, he found his best squash in the last game, but losing the first game whereas he was leading 10/8 (10/12) could have been very costly. He’ll have a day off tomorrow to settle the nerves, and remember what his strengths are…


“I did feel the threat.

“I wasn’t necessarily thinking about the seeding – they’re just numbers, it’s about who plays better on the day. It’s one of those matches that you’re proud to win, to come up against an opponent who is playing better than you for the whole five games. You just have to grind it out and a big thanks to the physio today, Laoise, she has been very helpful. It’s a little thing but it can affect your game big time. She dealt with it in the best way possible, so I’d really like to thank her.

“The injury was a very silly thing in the morning, I was opening a can of oatmeal, I just had my breakfast and cut my finger. You’d be surprised how much it affects the holding of the grip and I just missed so many easy shots because I couldn’t hold the grip properly. In a fraction of a second I’m thinking about it and then I’m wrong footed, all of this plays in your head but I’m happy to still be in the tournament and have a day off, where I’ll be playing without it and hopefully all will be good.

“20 years ago, I was in the same place as the fans and I dreamt of being in the same place. I think it’s one of the reasons why Egypt is doing so well at the moment because we all aspire to be like the likes of Barada, Darwish, Shabana and Ramy Ashour – all of the great legends that have come out of Egypt. I hope many of the players watching in the crowd will be playing on here one day.”