Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) def Fares Dessouky (EGY) 11-9 14-12 11-8 (51-min)
Remarkably, since winning the PSA World Series Finals for the first time back in June, Mohamed ElShorbagy has been defeated just once, in the US Open Final by Ali Farag. He launched into the 2017-18 season by winning the title at the NetSuite Open in San Francisco – reaching the final after an epic 14-12 deciding-game victory over James Willstrop. It was a clutch performance, fueling his confidence. Though he fell to Farag in the championship match of the US Open, he avenged the loss last week in the Final of the St. George’s Hill Classic.
On Sunday, he brought his season record to 13-1, defeating Chris Simpson to reach the Round of 16.
His Halloween opponent was a familiar one, 23-year-old fellow Alexandrian Fares Dessouky, who defeated Qatar’s #1 Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi to reach Doha’s Round of 16 for the second time. Dessouky’s season began with Quarterfinal runs at the China and US Opens. Last season, he won his second PSA Tour title Mumbai and reached the Quarterfinals of the PSA World Championship for the first time. By April, he climbed to a career-high ranking of #9 in the World, then reached his second career World Series Semifinal at the El Gouna International Open.
Both came into Tuesday’s match prepared for the long-haul. Their two previous matches went the distance. At the 2015 Windy City Open, ElShorbagy won it 13-11 in the fifth. Two years later, Mohamed won again in five – this time in the 1st-Round of the 2017 British Open. Fearless Fares was determined to get The Beast off his back.
A Physical Battle
No doubt, ElShorbagy was thankful to get through this one in three games. All three could have gone either way. Both Mohamed and Fares refused to give ground, which led to some heated exchanges with match referee John Massarella…and each other.
In game-1, Mohamed shot-out to an early lead, but Fares battled back to 7-all. The two traded serves through 9-all, before ElShorbagy gained the edge.
In game-2, Fares took the early lead and it was Mohamed’s turn to battle back. At 8-all, the clash of wills got physical. Both were knocked to the court, Fares saved game ball at 9-10, and suddenly we were into a tiebreak. Fares earned a game ball of his own, quickly erased by a stroke call from the video referee. Finally after 21-minutes and countless pleas to the referee from both players, ElShorbagy won it 14-12. Disgusted with the calls, Dessouky received a conduct warning as he left the court.
By the third, Fares’ frustration became a distraction. Ahead 7-3, he couldn’t keep the pressure-on. ElShorbagy won four straight points, and after a punishing rally at 7-all, Dessouky was gassed. The two time Qatar Classic Champion earned the victory on his second match ball. (FULL MATCH RECAP)
A Rivalry Continues
With the win, Mohamed ElShorbagy will face Ali Farag for the third time this season. At the US Open, Ali defeated Mohamed to win his first World Series title. 9 days ago, ElShorbagy returned the favor, defeating Farag in the Final of the St. George’s Hill Classic, earning his 27 career PSA Tour title. Tomorrow’s Quarterfinal will be the tie-breaker.
Mohamed ElShorbagy: “I can’t get away from Ali at the moment. We played the last two finals in a row and to play in the quarters, I feel we both deserve to be in the semis at least. We’ve had two great battle since recent weeks and I’m sure it will be the same again tomorrow.”