Egypt’s Mostafa Asal took the squash world by storm last month, as he reached the semi-finals of the CIB Egyptian Open, and produced one of the most incredible celebrations the PSA World Tour has ever seen.
Have you ever seen a celebration like this on a squash court?— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) October 14, 2020
mostafasal_</a> does the business after 104 minutes on court against <a href="https://twitter.com/paulcollsquash?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">paulcollsquash and he celebrated in a much different fashion to what we are used to seeing!#SquashByThePyramids pic.twitter.com/4VzaZFPmOw
That celebration came in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza, arguably the best backdrop in world sports. It followed an epic 102 minute encounter against New Zealand No.1, and World No.5, Paul Coll, where the Egyptian came out on top.
Thanks to the celebration, Asal went viral, but his talents were already well known on the PSA World Tour. Still just 19-years-old, the young star is now inside the top 16 in the PSA World Rankings and has a Platinum semi-final under his belt.
Those performances have led former World No.1 and World Champion, Mohamed ElShorbagy, to say that Asal will become World No.1 in the future, if he applies himself in the right way.
"The guys I'm really interested in watching at the minute are— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) November 16, 2020
diegoelias96</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/mostafasal_?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">mostafasal_."
MoElshorbagy</a> believes both have the potential to be No.1 one day - what do you think? <br><br>The full interview with ElShorbagy is on <a href="https://twitter.com/SquashTV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">SquashTV https://t.co/RM8OFrA1Z2 pic.twitter.com/fDdXFqHZ1x
ElShorbagy said: “He has the character to be World No.1 one day. I think, at some point, he will be the one that leads the sport if he keeps the right attitude in training. It is one thing to have the talent, and another to get there [to the top].”
Asal’s rise is akin to that of fellow Egyptian Hania El Hammamy, who has already claimed a major title despite being just 20 years of age. The pair are the stars of the next generation, but is Asal the future of men’s squash like ElShorbagy says so?
Well how does he compare to the former World No.1? Together with our colleagues at SquashLevels, we have looked at how he compares with Mohamed ElShorbagy, and also taken a look at his comparison with squash legend Ramy Ashour and current World No.1 Ali Farag.
SquashLevels uses an algorithm, with a ‘level’ being calculated for each player after every match. The changes to said level come from both their’s and their opponent’s level before the match, and the actual result compared to the expected result.
For instance, if a player was expected to win 3-0, with average game scores of 11-8, but they actually won 3-0 with average game scores of 11-2, the winner’s level would increase due to that difference.
There is then also weighting, depending on how important the match is, and damping, which is dialled in to try and make sure that the progress is correct. You can see all the information in more detail on the SquashLevels FAQs.
Mostafa Asal v Mohamed ElShorbagy
First up, let’s take a look at how the young prodigy of the sport compares to four-time World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy, a man who has spent over four years at the summit of the PSA World Rankings since first taking the top spot in November 2014.
To compare to the two as closely as possible, we have taken data from when ElShorbagy was the same age as Asal is now, 19. To be precise, the youngster has just gone past 19-and-a-half, with his birthday coming in May 2001. For our comparisons, we have taken ElShorbagy’s stats and information from July 2010.
Rather amazingly, at this point in their lives, both players sat in the same position in the PSA World Rankings. ‘The Beast’ was at World No.14 in July 2010, below the likes of David Palmer, Thierry Lincou, James Willstrop, Gregory Gaultier, Amr Shabana and the then-World No.1 Nick Matthew.
Right now, Asal also sits at the World No.14 in the PSA World Rankings, with the likes of Miguel Rodriguez, Paul Coll and Tarek Momen above him, along with ElShorbagy and World No.1 Ali Farag.
Right now, ElShorbagy has a much higher level on the SquashLevels Power Ratings, but at the same age as Asal, it is the current 19-year-old that holds the advantage, and by some margin. ElShorbagy’s level of 40,130 would see him sit at #40 in today’s Power Ratings charts, while Asal’s level of 55,319 has him at the #13 spot.
When you look at their Power Ratings charts alongside each other, you can see that ElShorbagy’s rise to the top was more gradual, while Asal seems to be shooting his way right to the top of the game as it stands.
The bottom dotted line shows when ElShorbagy was 19, where his level was just over the 40,000 mark. The ‘Raging Bull’ had already reached that by May 2019, just prior to his 18th birthday.
The second dotted line shows Asal’s level of just over 55,000 now, and how long it took ElShorbagy to reach that stage of his career. ‘The Beast’ had just turned 21 when he got to that mark on the SquashLevels Power Ratings, doing so in January 2012.
The pair are yet to meet on the PSA World Tour, but when they eventually do, could we see a changing of the guard?
Mostafa Asal v Ramy Ashour
How does the newest Egyptian male star compare to one of the greatest players to ever grace a squash court? Does Mostafa Asal rank higher than three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour at this early stage of his career?
To compare these two Egyptians, we have taken Ashour’s data and information from March 2007, when he sat at World No.5 in the PSA World Rankings, much higher than Asal’s current World No.14 in the present-day rankings.
At the age of 19, ‘the Artist’ had just four people above him in the PSA World Rankings. Thierry Lincou, David Palmer, Gregory Gaultier and then World No.1 Amr Shabana were the only players who could say they were better than a 19-year-old Ramy Ashour.
It would then take the Egyptian just a further 16 months to reach the summit of the PSA World Rankings, as he took the top spot from Karim Darwish, who wasn’t even a part of the top five at the time of our comparison data.
Ashour is the closest in terms of level on the SquashLevel Power Ratings to Asal, but even the three-time World Champion is nowhere near the young Egyptian. His level of 45,781 would see him rank at #25 in the current Power Ratings, compared to Asal’s #13.
As you can see from their comparison charts, ‘the Artist’ had a huge rise following his 19th birthday, a rise which saw him climb to the top of the PSA World Rankings by the time he was 21.
Prior to that rise though, he compares to Asal from approximately 12 months ago. The higher dotted line compares where the ‘Raging Bull’ is now to where Ashour was all those years ago. That came during his rapid rise in the game, and was just a few months after the first comparison point on this chart.
Asal is embarking on his own amazing ride on the PSA World Tour, and although nothing will ever match Ashour’s quick rise, can the 19-year-old follow in the footsteps of ‘the Artist’ and become World No.1 and World Champion?
Mostafa Asal v Ali Farag
What about the current World No.1, Ali Farag? How does he compare to Asal? He was the last man to face the ‘Raging Bull’ on the PSA World Tour, winning their meeting in the semi-finals of the CIB Egyptian Open in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza in October, but how do they compare on their rise to the higher echelons of the sport?
In October 2011, which is our comparison date for the current World No.1, Farag was in the process of studying Mechanical Engineering at Harvard University, and although he was one of the most prolific players in college squash history, losing just twice in three years, his level was not increasing during that time.
That means that Asal’s level is almost double what Farag’s was when he was 19-years-old, as his rise up the PSA World Rankings came after that, and following his graduation from Harvard in May 2014.
That also shows in the PSA World Rankings from October 2011, with Farag sitting down at World No.77. The crop of players in and around him at that time included New Zealand’s Campbell Grayson, Mexico’s Cesar Salazar and compatriot Marwan ElShorbagy, all of whom would move inside the top 25 at one stage of their careers.
Looking at the comparative charts on the SquashLevels Power Ratings, you can see that Farag’s improvements plateaued during his time at Harvard, from 2011 to 2014, before the impressive rise to sit clear at #1 right now.
However, at the same age that the ‘Raging Bull’ is now, his level was only 28,591, which would see him sit outside the top 75 on the Power Ratings right now, compared to Asal’s level of 55,319, which puts him at #13.
Farag moved over the 55,000 mark on the SquashLevels Power Ratings for the first time in April 2016, around the time of his 24th birthday. However, he has gone on to hit the 77,000 mark, where he sits right now.
Asal and Farag have already done battle on the PSA World Tour on four occasions in the past, including in the semi-finals of the CIB Egyptian Open, as the new World No.1 stopped the ‘Raging Bull’s’ epic run at the Pyramids. When Asal gets that first victory over the 2018-19 World Champion, will the floodgates open?
What about the coveted World No.1 spot though? Ramy Ashour took top spot in January 2010 at the age of 21, while Mohamed ElShorbagy was 23 in November 2014 when he reached World No.1. Ali Farag was the latest bloomer, following his college days at Harvard, becoming World No.1 in March 2019 at the age of 26. Can Asal get to the summit of the PSA World Rankings before these three greats of the game managed it?