SF : Farag gets revenge over Coll

Ali Farag reverses the British Open final result to beat Paul Coll in four games

[2] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-1 [4] Paul Coll (Nzl) 11-9, 10-12, 11-4, 11-9 (69m)

So many thoughts when I’m trying to analyse this match between Ali who just lost to Paul in the British Open final. First, again, I cannot believe how Paul’s game has been enriched recently, especially on the “counterdropping” department. But also he now goes for shots I never saw him play, some long drop shots completely out of his comfort zone. Not only playing them but winning points with them!

I think two elements played a big role today. 1. He started very slowly, offering a huge lead to his opponent, 6/2, 8/4, and even if he did eventually catch up at 9/9, the momentum was with the World number 1, who took it 11/9 in 18m. I feel we would have had a completely different match had it led 1/0. Psychologically after his BO win…

But more importantly, it seems to me Paul played Ali with the same tactic he applied to the British Open, lob and height – a plan that worked wonders in an indoor court but not in my opinion on an outdoor one with very windy conditions.

The second is a match on his own, Paul in control 5/2, 6/4, but all level 7/7, 8/8, thanks to Paul making a couple of errors, two game balls for Fantastic, 10/8, but a good run of energy comes out off Superman’s racquet, and it’s 12/10 after a long very long rally… Another very long game, 19m in favour of the New Zealander, now 1 game all.

The third is a mystery to me. Paul just doesn’t turn up – tired, Paul?? Na. Not sure what happened there, anyway, it’s 4/1, 9/3, 11/4 for Ali, with a big “MOOOOVE” from Paul as he can’t reach yet again another perfect backhand drive, 13m.

The fourth is a toss of a coin. Only 1 error each, 13m game, absolutely nothing between them until 9/9, a redrop from Ali, and a crosscourt deep that dies in the left corner… 11/9 to a very relieved Ali…

Ali : I did have a plan and I think I executed most of it, but with the conditions, I had to adapt, and so did he. The wind keeps getting harder every night. tonight, especially on the forehand side, you would think that you would be able to hit it properly, but then it fell off rapidly.

We both had to adapt to it and to mix the pace, and I was very annoyed with myself for losing that second game. I gave him a very cheap return of serve in the tin at 9-10, to get him back to 10-all. That changed the dynamic of the match completely. 2-0 to 1-1 would have been totally different.

But then, I am happy that I contained myself and came back in the third strong, and then the fourth, thankfully I scraped through.

The warm-up shirt – this amazing young boy, Yassin Kouritam. He is an amazing champion on court, but mostly off court, and his entire family are loved by every single person here in Egypt, in the squash community. His dad, his mum, his siblings, we have so much affection for them. He is going through a tough time, but we have no doubt that he is going to be out of it very soon, and we are cheering him on from here.

Paul : Today I knew exactly what I wanted to do but I just couldn’t execute it the way I wanted. I couldn’t find my heights, I couldn’t adjust my shots, my lobs were falling in the middle of the court, and I couldn’t be as accurate as I have been lately. Very frustrating, as I know what I had to do but just couldn’t do it consistently enough.