Finals : Egyptian duo Farag and El Hammamy triumph
Egyptian duo Ali Farag and Hania El Hammamy scooped the CIB Egyptian Open titles at the Great Pyramid of Giza after they defeated Paul Coll and Nouran Gohar.
World No.1 Farag won his third Egyptian Open title as he beat World No.2 Coll 3-1 in a 66-minute battle.
Farag, whose place at the top of the World Rankings was under threat from Coll going into tonight’s showdown, comfortably took the opening game 11-6, with the Egyptian playing the court conditions better as Coll struggled to find a firm footing on a sandy court.
Coll looked more assured in the second game as he moved to 10-6, with the 30-year-old lifting well in a tactical shift. Farag saved two game balls, but couldn’t force a tie-break, with an error from the World No.1 allowing Coll to draw level with an 11-8 win. The New Zealander’s tactical discipline slipped in the third game and Farag took full advantage in rapid rallies, easing back into the lead with an 11-4 victory, to the delight of the home crowd.
In a more even fourth game, Coll was initially able to coax longer rallies out of Farag, before the World Champion accelerated away once again to seal his third title in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza with an 11-7 win.
“It’s still unbelievable every time I come and play in front of the Pyramids,” said Farag afterwards. “You think you take it for granted, but then every time you come here there’s a loss of breath and you can’t really believe that you’ve watched all the greats of Egypt and globally who have played on such a stage. I only dreamed of being here.
“For myself, I’m really proud of this week because I wasn’t in a good place this past couple of weeks. Just one loss can take your confidence down and it’s thanks to the people behind me, especially my mum, my parents, the belief they have in me, day in and day out, makes me believe in myself.
“To them, I’m forever grateful. My brother and Karim Darwish, who’s always on the court and the phone with me. My wife [Nour El Tayeb], she sees the worst of me and believe me, the worst of me is not easy to deal with! I’m very grateful for her.”
Runner-up Coll said afterwards on court: “He’s (Ali Farag) been World No.1 for so long. It takes a complete performance to beat someone of his calibre. Tonight, I don’t think I played well enough for a long enough period of time to get the win.
“Credit to Ali, he’s very hard to beat here in Egypt and he turned up again and played a great final. I just don’t think I was consistent enough in my gameplan and accuracy and it let me down a bit.”
In an all-Egyptian women’s final, El Hammamy put in a dominant performance to beat her fierce rival Gohar 3-1.
Going into the match, World No.1 and defending champion Gohar enjoyed a 9-3 head-to-head record against World No.3 El Hammamy – who will rise to World No.2 in tomorrow’s rankings – and won the last match, a fiery encounter at the World Tour Finals, 2-0. El Hammamy, though, has inflicted plenty of hurt on Gohar in recent times, beating the World No.1 in the finals of the Platinum-level Allam British Open and the El Gouna International last season.
In the opening game, Gohar made a confident start as she took a 5-1 lead. At 6-3 up, though, her scoring momentum was halted by an injury break after the World No.1 was accidentally caught below the eye by El Hammamy. After having the cut glued shut, Gohar saw her lead evaporate, with El Hammamy scoring eight unanswered points to move from 3-7 to 11-7.
Gohar, whose usual brutal pace had slowed down after the injury break, looked to strike the ball earlier in the second and was rewarded with a 13-11 win, with ‘the Terminator’ converting her third game ball. El Hammamy came out flying in the third game as she shot back into the lead with an 11-3 win, with Gohar looking flat on court and dejected as she exited.
The younger Egyptian’s brutal dominance continued in the fourth game, with the 22-year-old covering the court brilliantly as she opened up a 10-3 lead to have seven championship balls. Gohar saved one, but was unable to mount a shock comeback, as El Hammamy lifted her first CIB Egyptian Open title with an 11-4 win in the fourth.
Afterwards, she said: “I wanted to start the first game really well. I wanted to have a sharp start and a strong one, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to do it. Definitely, coming back from very far away against Nouran gives you a huge confidence [boost]. After winning the first, especially with a bouncy ball like this one with Nouran gives you big confidence.”
On her goal to be World No.1, she said: “This was definitely really important. I knew that after my last match yesterday I was going to be World No.2, but I didn’t want to stop there. I didn’t want to be satisfied with this. I wanted to come here today and win the match and prove it’s not where I belong, to be World No.2, it’s even bigger than this and I’m really glad I managed to prove it to myself today.”
Gohar said: “I just want to say I’m really proud of everything I’ve done, not only as a player but as a person as well. Reaching the final three times in a row isn’t easy at all. Obviously, sometimes I’m being harsh on myself as I want to win everything. “Sometimes it doesn’t go your way and I’m happy with the way I’m improving. Just one word I want to say: these small setbacks just make me come back even stronger than ever and I can’t wait to be back on court.”
For today’s four finalists, attention turns to the Platinum-level U.S Open, which takes place at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia, USA, October 8-15.
Meanwhile, the next event on the PSA World Tour is the Silver-level Oracle Netsuite Open, which will be played across four venues in San Francisco, USA, September 30 – October 4.
Semis : Farag and Coll set up World #1 decider
World numbers one and two Ali Farag and Paul Coll will battle it out to be at the World Rankings’ summit and for the CIB Egyptian Open crown when they meet in Sunday’s final.
Defending champion Farag overcame his Egyptian compatriot Mostafa Asal, while Coll defeated Peru’s Diego Elias. Top seed Farag produced a tactical masterclass to defeat third seed Asal in a match that was disrupted towards the end by a number of stoppages.
Asal took the first game 11-7, but Farag claimed the second to make it 1-1 with a 12-10 win despite Asal dragging himself level at 10-10 from 10-6 down. The defending champion looked dominant in the third as his astute tactical play was rewarded with an 11-6 win.
The frustrations of Asal boiled over on a number of occasions in a bizarre fourth game, with a number of strokes awarded against him – including three conduct strokes – for both his movement and conduct. In a fractured contest that stood in stark contrast to the entertainment of the opening two games, Farag booked his place in another final with an 11-8 win.
“My mum is the secret behind today’s win. It’s amazing, no matter how well you’re playing or how much you’ve trained or how much you’ve achieved, it’s amazing how one loss can affect your confidence,” said Farag. “My mum texted me today – a mother is probably the biggest figure in anyone’s career or life and when your mum sends you a message saying she believes in you, not just because she’s your mum but because she knows your character, it builds a lot of confidence in you and I’m so grateful to her. All I am is because of her and my father and I’m really grateful.”
In the final match of a long evening Coll edged his way past Elias 3-2 in a see-saw match. The New Zealander eased into the lead with an 11-4 win, but Elias responded in the second game as he played more positively, levelling 11-7. Coll took advantage of a number of Elias errors in the third to reclaim the lead with a comfortable 11-6 only for the Peruvian to come back once again 11-5 in the fourth to force a decider.
Elias opened up a 5-2 lead in the fifth, but Coll fought back with an impressive run of points to go 7-5 up as Elias appeared to tire, with more mistakes proving costly for the Peruvian as Coll went on to seal the match.
“A final is almost a new tournament. It doesn’t matter what’s happened before, it’s a final and everyone’s going to be ready for it,” Coll said. “It’s one more match, one more day. Ali and I have had a lot of finals. I think tomorrow’s going to be another good battle. He’s a very fair player and it’s another enjoyable battle and that’s what we play squash for, those clean enjoyable battles.”
In the women’s draw, Hania El Hammamy will rise to World No.2 after she produced a sublime performance to down current No.2 Nour El Sherbini and reach her first Egyptian Open final.
El Sherbini took the lead, the ‘Warrior Princess’ converting her third game ball with a service ace to go 1-0 up 14-12, but El Hammamy charged back from 5-1 down in the second to level 11-7. In a thrilling third game, El Hammamy moved into the lead, recovering from 7-4 down to 11-9. The third seed opened up a 4-1 lead in the fourth game, before El Sherbini narrowed the gap. However, El Hammamy was able to close out a huge win as she capitalised on a pair of El Sherbini errors to clinch an enthralling contest and rise to a career-best ranking.
“It was definitely a very tough match and I’m very happy to reach the final in my first major tournament of the season,” El Hammamy said. “I had an idea that I’d be reaching World No.2 possibly if I won this match. Every time I felt I was approaching winning that match I was trying to focus on the point and the rally because my focus isn’t World No.2, it’s World No.1.”
El Hammamy meets defending champion Nouran Gohar in the final after the World No.1 came from behind against fourth seed Amanda Sobhy in a five-game thriller to collect her 250th tour win.
Gohar went on an incredible 11-point scoring blitz as she scythed Sobhy down 11-2 in just seven minutes in game one, but Sobhy hit back brilliantly in the second as she clinched it 11-7. The American continued to look strong in the third, moving Gohar around the court excellently as she took the lead with another 11-7 win. Gohar requested a new ball for the fourth game, which seemed to prove effective as the Egyptian pulled away from 5-5 to 11-6 for force a fifth.
In a pulsating and free-flowing decider, Gohar reminded viewers why she spent the last six months as the World No.1, with the 24-year-old digging in to edge the match with an 11-8 victory.
“I was playing really well which actually scared me a bit, because when it goes too well it doesn’t go all the way like this,” said Gohar. “I’m proud of the way I dealt with it and if I wasn’t in Egypt, I don’t think I’d have been able to get back and play, so thank you to the crowd for cheering for me and giving me a big push.”
Day FIVE : Coll fights back as quarter-finals conclude
New Zealand’s World No.2 Paul Coll recovered from 2-1 down to beat Egypt’s Fares Dessouky in an entertaining affair to reach the semi-finals of the CIB Egyptian Open 2022.
After an even opening period, Dessouky’s concentration seemed to slip and Coll moved into a one game lead with an 11-6 win, but the Egyptian looked back to his best in the second as he levelled with an 11-8 victory.
Both players made more errors than they’d have liked in the third, with Dessouky better able to find his mark as he moved to 10-8. Coll saved one game ball, before a controversial stroke decision for Dessouky put the Egyptian 2-1 up.
The Kiwi forced a fifth game thanks to an 11-5 win in the fourth and, in a thrilling decider, it was the tireless Coll who managed the game better after converting his first match ball at 10-7 to reach the semi-finals.
Afterwards, Coll said: “I thought I actually played well in the third. It was at a crucial time, at 4-2, I made four mistakes from good positions and against someone like Fares who can hit so many winners, it’s just suicide.
“Those mistakes were just shocking. It was unforgivable. You can’t do that. “I was still trusting my shots and putting them in when I worked an opening, but it was good. I was happy with that performance. Even when 2-1 down I believed in myself really well.”
Coll’s semi-final opponent Diego Elias also fought back to earn a place in the last four, as he beat Egypt’s No.8 seed Marwan ElShorbagy 3-2.
In a helter-skelter first game, Elias raced into a 6-0 lead, however it was ElShorbagy who took the opener 11-8 after an excellent fightback. The World No.9 looked strong at the beginning of the second game before Elias launched a furious comeback of his own to take nine unanswered points from 4-2 down to level the match.
ElShorbagy took the third game 11-7 against a passive Elias, but the Peruvian Puma stepped up in the fourth as he clinched an 11-5 win to take the match into a fifth game. In the final game, as Elias began to open up a lead, errors started to flow from ElShorbagy’s racket, and Elias was able to see things out with a second 11-5 victory.
“I have the head-to-head record, but he always plays a good match with me and it’s always close,” said Elias on court post-match. “I’m just happy to win this one. Marwan’s a very good friend and I think today, in one game one of us was playing well and in another the other was. I’m just happy with the win.”
In the women’s draw, World No.2 and last year’s runner up Nour El Sherbini eased into the semi-finals after overcoming England’s Sarah-Jane Perry 3-0.
El Sherbini, who enjoyed a 13-4 head-to-head record against Perry ahead of the match, was made to work hard by the Englishwoman in the first game, as both players adjusted to the court conditions. Perry held a slim lead at 9-8, but El Sherbini was then able to find a more consistent length as she came back to take the first game 13-11.
That opening game seemed crucial, with El Sherbini looking far more at ease in the second. ‘The Warrior Princess’ quickly took the second game 11-3 and then brought the match to an end in 30 minutes with an 11-4 win in the third game.
“It’s hard to adapt to different types of courts. This one was totally different to the one at Club S. We didn’t have a lot of time on this one so in the first game both of us were trying to adapt our game,” El Sherbini said. “I’m very glad I won the first game, it was a crucial one. I’m happy to win the first game and I was happy to play better in the next two games.”
In the other women’s match Egypt’s Hania El Hammamy came through a fierce test with Olivia Fiechter to progress to the semi-finals.
In the pair’s first meeting on tour, El Hammamy made an assured start as she took the first game 11-5, but Fiechter responded well in the second to level with an 11-9 win. The Egyptian came back in an entertaining third game battle, with El Hammamy able to better control the middle against the attack-minded Fiechter as she regained her lead with an 11-7 triumph.
Fiechter continued to probe El Hammamy’s defences in the fourth game, but the World No.3 was able to push on to reach a semi-final showdown with El Sherbini.
“You can’t compare an exhibition match [which the pair played in the summer] with an official PSA match,” said El Hammamy. “It’s a major tournament and I knew she’d be giving her all to reach the semi-final, so I had to be very focused. I knew she’s been playing really well so I had to watch her and actually get a good gameplan and I’m happy I could do that.”
Day FOUR : Defending Champion Farag fights back to earn Semi-Final berth
Defending CIB Egyptian Open champion Ali Farag was made to work for his semi-final place as he came from behind to defeat his compatriot Tarek Momen 3-1 at the Pyramids of Giza.
World No.1 Farag went into the clash on the back of a six-match winning run against Momen, though it was the World No.6 who started brighter, playing a virtually error-free game to take the opener 11-6. Momen continued to look impressive for much of the second game as he went 10-8 up. Farag, however, saved the two game balls, cutting out the errors to hit four successive points and take the second game 12-10, before moving into the lead with an 11-6 win in the third.
Both players looked fatigued in the fourth game, with the lively court and warm weather taking its toll on the pair. But Farag was able to push through, ending the match with a hard-fought 11-7 win.
Farag said : “It’s one of those days you really want to play in Egypt and one of those days you’re really [happy] to have having coaching back.
“You don’t always feel your best going on court and Tarek definitely played the first game better and I just needed the extra encouragement as I couldn’t find my rhythm and targets. It’s great to have Karim [Darwish] with me.
“He has confidence in me and tells me ‘Ok, if game A’s not working today then it’s just going to be mental and physical. Just get there.
“For some strange reason, I guess because the front wall is so fast, Tarek and I both got tired more easily than we’d normally do. I think it’s because of the court conditions and bouncy court.”
Farag will meet No.3 seed Mostafa Asal in the semi-final, who overcame Egyptian compatriot Mazen Hesham 3-1.
Asal took the lead after a 24-minute first game, though the 21-year-old would have been concerned to see his 7-3 lead slip to 9-9 before his eventual 11-9 win. In a brilliant second game that featured entertaining rallies and thrilling winners from both players, Hesham pulled level with an 11-9 win of his own, only for Asal to regain his lead with an 11-7 victory in the third.
In the fourth game, which was delayed by a jaw injury to Hesham and issues with the court lines, Asal eventually saw out the match in relative comfort with an 11-5 win.
Asal said: “That was really tough actually. “I’m happy to be through. This was my first hit on court and it was tricky. I didn’t go on court today to practice in the morning and that was really difficult. “I’m happy to get through and deal with all of the situations today.”
In the women’s draw, defending women’s champion and World No.1 Nouran Gohar safely moved into the semi-finals by beating Canada’s Hollie Naughton 3-0.
Naughton, playing in her first Platinum-level quarter-final, didn’t look overawed by the occasion as she edged into a 5-3 lead in the first game. Gohar, however, then began to find her groove, looking suddenly dominant as she won seven points in a row on the way to an 11-6 win, before easing into a 2-0 lead with an 11-3 win. Gohar continued to look composed as the confidence drained from Naughton in the third game, with the 24-year-old wrapping up a 33-minute win with an 11-2 victory.
“Playing a tournament and winning it can be a good and bad thing as it can make you more relaxed,” Gohar said. [The South Western Women’s Open in Houston was my first tournament of the season and I was using it as preparation for this one. I enjoy playing in Egypt in general, especially here. I just wanted to come here in form and try to play my best.”
Gohar’s semi-final opponent Amanda Sobhy also recorded a comfortable 3-0 win, defeating Wales’ Tesni Evans.
Sobhy, who in the previous round played a thrilling encounter against Nour El Tayeb, looked both sharp and relaxed throughout today in an entertaining match, taking the first game 11-7 before extending her lead with an 11-5 win in the second. In a stop-start third game that saw both players utilising the newly introduced review rule, Sobhy was able to keep her nose ahead to go through with an 11-8 win.
“It was a total contrast from yesterday on the normal courts, where [Sobhy and El Tayeb] were on at noon and we both play fast-paced attacking squash and here I feel like Tesni was trying to lull me into sleep a little bit, she slowed the pace down a tonne,” said Sobhy.
“It’s totally different circumstances and you’ve got to take the quarter-finals on as different tournament. “As much as I’m happy about my win and performance yesterday, it’s done and I’ve got to move on and prepare for the next one as Tesni is a tough competitor and she’s going to bring it, so I needed to do the same and I’m just happy to finally get a rest tomorrow!”
Day THREE : Dessouky and Fiechter upset seeds
Fares Dessouky delivered one of the biggest shocks of round three as he came out on top in a pulsating five-game thriller against No.5 seed Mohamed ElShorbagy to advance to the quarter-finals of the CIB Egyptian Open.
The unseeded Egyptian, who’s No.11 in the world rankings, produced an impressive display throughout in a fiery affair between the pair to overcome the World No.4.
It was a strong start from Dessouky as he went 2-0 up, winning the first two games 11-6 and 11-8.
But ElShorbagy, who was runner-up in last year’s tournament, stormed back with two excellent games to restore parity and force a fifth game decider.
However, it was Dessouky who kept his cool in the fifth to defeat ElShorbagy and reach his first quarter-final at the Egyptian Open since 2019 where he will face World No.2 Paul Coll at the Great Pyramids of Giza.
“It was a very tough match. I was up 2-0 and there was a lack of concentration, a lot of talking to the referee, and then he (ElShorbagy) played some amazing squash and came back to 2-2, but I’m happy to get that win,” Dessouky said.
“I thought I was going to lose (going into the fifth game), but I told myself that I need to play my best squash and both of us were really tired at the end. I had to push really hard at the end and it worked. I’m glad it worked.
“It was a bit of a challenge for me today because he’s in form, he won the last (Platinum) tournament so I had to tell myself that I can win big matches in big tournaments so it’s a good thing. I’m happy to be in the quarter-finals and I’m looking forward to it.”
Meanwhile, Mohamed’s brother Marwan ElShorbagy avenged his defeat in last week’s Open de France de Squash final by coming from a game down to beat French No.1 Victor Crouin.
There was another big upset in the women’s draw as World No.11 Olivia Fiechter downed No.5 seed Joelle King to reach the Egyptian Open quarter-finals for the first time, where she will play World No.3 Hania El Hammamy.
Fiechter, who lost 3-0 to King in round three of the El Gouna International in May this year, made the perfect start to the match as she took a commanding 2-0 lead after 11-7, 11-4 wins.
The US No.2 made a good start to the third game as she sensed an upset, with the 27-year-old going 5-3 up.
King, however, is famed for her powers of recovery and pulled a game back with an 11-8 win.
In a nerve-wracking fourth game, both players threw everything at each other. Fiechter had a match ball at 10-9, but couldn’t convert as King forced a tie-break with a perfect drop.
King then had game balls at 11-10 and 12-11, but saw both saved by a determined Fiechter, who then moved 13-12 ahead before finally bringing an epic contest to an end with a tight backhand to win 14-12.
“Oh my God, I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. Joelle is someone I have so much respect for and someone I’ve looked up to throughout juniors and in my career. It was just so neck-and-neck,” said Fiechter.
“Every rally felt like a marathon. There was a lot of emotion in that match and a lot of ups and downs. It wasn’t as consistent as I’d have liked it to be, but that’s what happens when there’s a lot on the line. I was trying not to think about making it into my first quarters or getting the opportunity to play in front of the Pyramids.
“I was just trying to focus on my squash and I had to fight for every rally. I’m so happy that I just dug in there and kept retrieving balls and believing in myself. I can’t believe it!”
Elsewhere in the women’s draw, Hollie Naughton continued her excellent streak in the tournament after coming from behind to defeat France’s Melissa Alves to earn her first-ever Platinum-level quarter-final.
Elsewhere, the top two seeds in the men’s draw, Ali Farag and Paul Coll, and the women’s draw, Nouran Gohar and Nour El Sherbini, picked up where they left off yesterday by advancing to the next round with straight set victories.
Day TWO : Arnold stuns Elaraby
Rachel Arnold produced the biggest upset of day two of the CIB Egyptian Open as she dumped World No.7 Rowan Elaraby out to reach the third round.
Arnold, who’s No.26 in the world rankings, defeated the Egyptian in five games to progress to the next stage of the tournament.
The 26-year-old, who defeated young Egyptian wildcard Nour Heikal in the first round, took the first game 12-10.
Elaraby, the tournament’s No.7 seed, made it level when she won the second game 11-8, but Arnold came roaring back in the third to reclaim her lead with an 11-9 victory.
It was the third time the pair had met on the PSA World Tour, and Elaraby fought back again to make it 2-2 heading into the fifth decisive game.
But it proved to be a comfortable triumph for Arnold, brushing aside Elaraby 11-2 to confirm her place in the next round.
“It feels great! Rowan is a top ten player too, but it felt a bit more comfortable today and I went all in for the win,” Arnold said afterwards.
“It’s a big event, so getting past round two makes me really happy so I’m glad to be moving into round three tomorrow.
“It was quite comfortable, but I had to really fight in the first three games. I’m happy with my performance. I have nothing to lose so I will give my best and hopefully I can play well again tomorrow.”
There was another rankings upset in the women’s draw as Melissa Alves came from behind to knock out English No.8 seed Georgina Kennedy.
Meanwhile in the men’s draw, Germany No.1 Raphael Kandra fought back to edge his way past former World No.3 Omar Mosaad to advance to round three.
An entertaining match-up went the distance and, despite Mosaad taking a 1-0 lead after winning game one 11-8, Kandra clinched the second and third games to go 2-1 up.
But Mosaad forced a decisive fifth game when he claimed the fourth 11-7, but it was Kandra, in his first appearance of the tournament, who prevailed in the fifth 11-4.
The 31-year-old will meet World No.1 Ali Farag in the next round.
“It was a tough encounter against Mosaad. I found it hard to know which game plan I should go with because he’s so tall and strong at the T line,” said Kandra.
“Sometimes it works, sometimes it didn’t, but overall I’m glad I got through and now I’m getting ready to go on the glass court tomorrow. This was a good fight for me, overall there was a lot of ups and downs.
“In the fifth I stuck to my game plan a bit more. It could have been easier but a win’s a win and that’s important for me.”
Elsewhere, in one of the most dramatic matches of the day, Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi survived a fightback from Switzerland’s Dimitri Steinmann to move into the next round.
In the evening session on the glass court, the top two seeds in the men’s and women’s draws booked their places with ease.
Day ONE : Sabrina avoids a big upset
On the first day of the CIB Egyptian Open 2022, World No.21 Sabrina Sobhy avoided a huge upset as she overcame 15-year-old wildcard Amina Orfi.
Sobhy took the first game 11-8 but Orfi, who had the backing of a passionate home crowd, stormed back to make it 1-1 when she clinched the second game 11-6.
Orfi, who’s 402 places lower in the world rankings than her opponent, produced an excellent performance in the third as she won 11-2 to edge 2-1 ahead.
The 15-year-old, who was crowned World Junior champion in the summer, had a golden opportunity to seal her place in the second round in the fourth game with a match point but she was unable to profit. An error from Orfi handed Sobhy the fourth game to tie the scores and force a decider.
But it was Sobhy’s experience over the young wildcard that helped her prevail in the decisive fifth game, claiming it 11-6 and moving into the next round by avoiding what would have been a big upset so early on in the tournament.
“I wouldn’t say it was one of my best (performances). With any wildcard, the difficulty is not ever having seen them on Tour and knowing their game plan and a clear strategy against the opponent,” Sobhy reflected.
“I was a little bit passive and on edge throughout the match and I was taken aback by her aggression. With her being a young Egyptian, she might not have had any experience with professional players or respect you should show your opponent.
“She’s a fit, young girl that’s very aggressive, attacking and has a fast pace. She’s very eager – she’s the World Junior champion so she’s a phenomenal young athlete so all credit to her at such a young age at 15. It was, of course, difficult to play with the conditions being a warm court, late at night and it was quite difficult to find my own game plan and get stuck into my own game.”
In the men’s draw in what was one of the matches of the day, USA’s Todd Harrity fought back from 8-1 down in the fifth game to beat Portugal’s Rui Soares.
Harrity had looked good value for his 2-0 lead before Soares pulled a game back with an 11-4 win in game three. The American then looked well set to end the match in four when he came back from 5-0 down to 10-8 up, only for Soares to rally and put together a four-point run to save the two match balls and force a fifth game.
Soares flew into the fifth game, rapidly opening up an 8-1 lead, only for a brilliant revival from Harrity. The American reeled off point after point as he battled back to 9-8 down. Harrity then saved two match balls at 10-8 and 10-9 before eventually bringing things to an end with a 12-10 win.
“That was very confusing and very up and down. I’m trying to play a certain way, which is coming along slowly. Rui’s a strong player and he played really well. Every time I let up a little, he took advantage. Honestly, I don’t know what happened in the end! I feel very lucky to come out on top there,” Harrity said.
“[At 8-1] I just thought ‘Forget about everything. Forget about winning or losing and just try and make this game last as long as possible. Somehow I got stuck in, he tightened up a bit and next thing you know I won!”
Elsewhere, Mazen Gamal shocked his Egyptian compatriot Moustafa ElSirty, and he will meet another fellow countryman, and the No.1 seed, Ali Farag in the second round.