Tops seed Ali Farag put an end to the Raging Bull’s campaign at the CIB Egyptian Open as he beat World Junior Champion Mostafa Asal to secure his place in the title decider for a second year in a row.
Asal was the talk of the squash world following his wild celebrations after his controversial win over World Championship runner-up Paul Coll in the previous round and he was appearing in his first ever PSA World Tour Platinum semi-final.
As pumped up as the 19-year-old had been against Coll, he was very flat in the opening stages and a far cry from the tour de force that had shook the sport two days ago.
World No.2 Farag, nine years Asal’s senior, simply picked him off in a one-sided first game and had the better of the second game to to build up a seemingly unassailable lead.
It has taken 25 minutes, but
mostafasal_</a> has finally hit that signature shot of his, the cross court slam dunk!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SquashByThePyramids?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SquashByThePyramids</a> <a href="https://t.co/9cXaGxwzgB">pic.twitter.com/9cXaGxwzgB</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) October 16, 2020
But Asal was able to soak up the pressure and weather the storm and he unleashed his considerable talents in the third to claw a game back, converting the game at the fourth time of asking.
The World No.18 then required treatment on an ankle injury and the blows that Farag had inflicted ultimately took their toll as the teenager began to tire. Farag took full advantage of the physical drop off to close out the fifth 11-4 to bring an end to Asal’s charge.
"I am starting to enjoy myself again on court. I am finding myself, I am finding my character, finding my gameplan!"
AliFarag</a> gave us his reaction after he got the better of <a href="https://twitter.com/mostafasal_?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">mostafasal_ to reach the final of the
CIBEgyptianOpen</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SquashByThePyramids?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SquashByThePyramids</a> <a href="https://t.co/LLKBRVurLW">pic.twitter.com/LLKBRVurLW</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) October 16, 2020
“Lot’s of friends, cousins and family are here, so I couldn’t be more proud to do that in front of them,” Farag said.
“I can’t stress enough how thankful we are to CIB, [Tournament Director] Amr Mansi, i-Events and the PSA. Obviously there are tough protocols they have to go through because of COVID-19 precautions and we’re super grateful to be here. I’m starting to enjoy myself again on court, I’m finding myself again, my character and my game plan.
“As you saw with Asal throughout the whole tournament, knocking three top players out to reach the semis, I must be very pleased with the way I played because whenever he has got a lead he is very good at holding onto it like we saw in the third. So I’m really happy that I started reading him well except for the third.
“My length hitting has gotten a lot better throughout the season. The World Tour Finals was a lot better than Manchester and here is better than the World Tour Finals, so hopefully it can only get better from here. Thanks to Karim Darwish and my brother, they were always insisting on playing deep into the back corners.
“It’s my main strength and I don’t have to be dragged into my opponent’s game plan. I can’t tell you how many times Karim and I have battled throughout the straight drives on both sides. He crushes me every time on the forehand, but I take pride on the backhand side.”
Farag will take on either World No.4 Tarek Momen – who he beat in the 2018-19 PSA World Championship final – or bogey player Marwan ElShorbagy in the next round, with ElShorbagy beating him at both the Manchester Open and CIB PSA World Tour Finals in the past month.
The Harvard-graduate gave his thoughts on that fixture as well as the next match of the night, in which his wife, Nour El Tayeb, will go up against World Champion Nour El Sherbini.
He said: “I want Nour to win, that’s all I care about for the next match. Nour is coming up against probably the greatest in the modern era after Nicol David.
“Nour El Sherbini has cemented herself as one of the greatest in history, men or women, and they had a tough battle last week. I hope today they have another good one, and then for the men’s semi-final I’ll definitely be watching. Both are very tough to play against, so I can’t really give you one [that he would prefer].”
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Mostafa Asal (EGY) 3-1: 11-3, 11-7, 12-14, 11-4 (72m)