R3 : Men’s Last New Giza matches

A comfortable win for Marwan ElShorbagy over Ramit Tandon, Mazen Hesham wins a five game thriller against Karim Abdel Gawad

[5] Marwan ElShorbagy (Egy) 3-0 Ramit Randon (Ind)    11-6, 11-9, 11-8 (31m)
[9/16] Mazen Hesham (Egy) 3-2 [6] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)    8-11, 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 11-6 (66m)

Mazen :  Joking before the match, we said that we had the impression we were about to play an exhibition match… I told him go to your side, I’ll go to mine otherwise we are just going to play a friendly game…

But once we get on the court, we are very aggressive, we want to win, still playing fair.

Playing Karim is very difficult because you never know what to expect, kind the same like me. If he is moving well, he’s going to be dangerous, if he is a bit slow, he can still play some tricky shots. So I was really tense.

He is coming back from injury, it’s very important for us to get confidence in our games again, and in our bodies.I think I blew it in the 4th, like he was handing it to me then I just gave it back to him, but I’m really glad with the way I fought back in the 5th, just running a lot, playing my shots, trying to make it hard for him. I managed to do that very well at the start of the 5th, and the end, I started shaking a little bit, I wanted to end it too quick, you have to be on your toes the whole time.

Glad with the way I finished the match, I am going to be a bit sore tomorrow because I made it difficult for myself. I had to run a lot to get some shots….

Other than that, I’m really happy with my game, I want to enjoy my game, the time on court, if my body lets me down, it’s ok, I’ll rest and recover and be back again, I want to play for fun, it’s a good job to have and I don’t imagine myself doing anything else at the moment. I am really blessed doing this job, you know how much we love the game, enjoy more, have more fun, wherever I’m playing, whoever I’m playing, I just want to be happy, playing squash.

Ramit :  We practiced last week, and I always heard that Marwan was a very different player in practice and in the matches. And that was playing on my head a lot because we practiced a couple of times and he was not the best in the practice matches.

I came in to this match being excited, I’ve been playing well in this event, I had an opportunity, let it give it my best. But at the back of my mind, I KNEW Marwan was going to be different in the matches.

And today, I saw it. The strategy. He was aware of my strength, he knew what I’m good at, because we are from the same generation so we know each other for a long time. But the tactic was spot on. He just knew what he was doing, he never gave me the rhythm.

I come out of the match a bit frustrated, I felt I couldn’t play myself in, I knew I could perform better than this, but you’ve got to give him credit because he didn’t let me in. He knew what to do to not get my momentum and rhythm, and get going.

And I did find in patches, when I won a string of points in a row, but it was too late, he was already game ball up by then. And I think that’s the story of the match. Now I was to sit down and see what he did because it was so a strategy masterclass. He was putting the ball down in the middle, he made me feel really uncomfortable, and a week ago, I was very comfortable because I was reading him well but today, he is a different player, tactically, his change of shot selection was on point, and that’s why I guess he is one of the best players in the world…

Marwan : I had to work really hard to win in three games today.

We played a practice match a couple of days before this tournament, and he beat me in the 5 games we played, I didn’t win a single one.

I knew I had to be sharp, I know how tricky he is, very talented, very gifted, I wish I had his short game. Talking to my team, they were telling me, he likes to play like Ramy in a way, with his short technique, short swing stuff, you know. If he keeps training hard, if he keeps more disciplined to the game, he is going to be very good for the game. He is a very nice guy off court, I really like him, we come from the same generation, and I respect him so much, and that’s why I had to focuse 100%.

I’m not happy, I lost a bit of focus, but in fact, no, I haven’t lost a bit of focus, because he just had the momentum when he was playing well, and he kept playing well, going for shots and it worked.

Both Abou and Paul I played them last time it went to five, Paul I won, Abou I lost. Paul is in the form of his life wining the British Open, Abou played really well against Ali, he is getting close, he is always there. Tonight, they are going to have a cracker and I’ll be there watching and enjoying it like everybody I’m sure.

And I’m just looking forward to go back and play at the Pyramids.