Dessouky and Asal win marathon semis
Egypt’s Fares Dessouky and Mostafa Asal will contest the 2022 GillenMarkets Canary Wharf Classic final after they claimed respective wins over Egypt’s Mazen Hesham and Peru’s Diego Elias at London’s East Wintergarden.
Dessouky secured his place in his second Canary Wharf Classic final after defeating compatriot Hesham in a tough five-game battle, with the semi-finals and final of the PSA World Tour Gold tournament reverting to the traditional best-of-five format.
World No.10 Dessouky got off to a subdued start as Hesham blitzed into a 6-3 lead, however, it wasn’t long before the former clicked into gear and showcased his incredible finishing abilities to save two game balls and go on to take opening game, 12-10.
Hesham got himself back into contention though as he drew level before the games continued to exchange hands once again to take it to a fifth. In the decider, it was Dessouky that quickly settled into his rhythm and didn’t give Hesham any time to recover as he executed the 12-10, 9-11, 11-3, 7-11, 11-4 victory in 72 minutes.
“It was a very tough match, Mazen is one of the most talented players on Tour,” said Dessouky following his win. “He’s always very tricky, we’ve grown up playing together and have been playing since we were about nine. When we were hitting a few days ago we were remembering these times. It was always going to be a tough match and today was no different. I hope he stays injury-free because he’s one of the top guys for sure.”
Meanwhile, Asal and Elias played out a hefty 127-minute battle in the other semi-final of the night in front of a full house.
A massive 39-minute first game went the way of Elias on the tie-break, who had to dig deep to close out 16-14. Due to the intensity of the match, in the second game the interaction with the referee began to creep more and more into the match but the quality remained high and this time it was Asal who was able to take the game.
The momentum continued to shift between the two players as the match wore on. Asal was beginning to break up Elias’ rhythm with the severity of his hitting and stoppages throughout, which led to the Peruvian getting increasingly frustrated on court, but he managed to retake the lead courtesy of a 13-11 win in the third.
“First of all, it was an entertaining match,” said Asal afterwards. “Me and Diego were playing some great squash, all credit to him. I used to watch him when I was a junior and watched him at the British juniors in Sheffield, and how he succeeded in the juniors was unreal.
“Fares and I are good friends, he’s playing superb squash, I’m really happy that he’s back he’s amazing to watch, I think all the people watching Fares play think he’s unreal and I wish myself a good match tomorrow.”
By ALAN THATCHER
Two fantastic semi-finals are on the agenda this evening after an epic night in the quarter-finals, with Peru’s world No.6 Diego Elias the only non-Egyptian left in the draw.
He faces a huge battle with Egypt’s Mostafa Asal, who will be recovering today after an epic 95-minute marathon with Wales’ Joel Makin, who pushed him to the wire and almost through the front wall.
Friends and rivals: Dessouky and Hesham
First up is an all-Egyptian battle between Fares Dessouky and Mazen Hesham. Both of these players arrived together at Canary Wharf in 2015, showing the world their amazing skills and potential.
Since then both Dessouky and Hesham have faced numerous issues with injuries and it has been a real pleasure to see both of them return this year looking healthy, mobile and playing squash of the highest calibre.
Dessouky enjoyed a comfortable win over Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez in the second round but complained about traffic issues in mid-court after beating former world champion Tarek Momen in last night’s quarter-finals.
As for Hesham, he arrived at Canary Wharf still frustrated at how he allowed the match slip away from him in the Optasia Championship quarter-final against Elias, who escaped with a 12-10 win in the fifth game at Wimbledon.
Amazingly, Hesham’s victory over Patrick Rooney on Monday night was his very first win on the Canary Wharf glass court.
Afterwards he admitted to still being troubled by the memories of his match against Elias but last night he settled into his flamboyant rhythm once he saw how nervous his opponent Victor Crouin seemed at the start of their match.
Despite beating world No.1 Paul Coll on Monday night, Crouin still appeared uncomfortable with the best-of-three format and he did a lot of chasing as Hesham worked the ball around the court in style before finishing rallies with his trademark virtuosity.
Hesham is now at a career-high position of nine in the world rankings which shows how he is finally putting all the ingredients together in the right fashion. After beating Crouin 11-3, 11-3 in just 20 minutes, Hesham said: “Me and Fares have been sharing the courts around the world together for so long. People compare our styles and I think we bring a lot to squash.
“We’ve been unlucky with injuries but it’s great to see Fares playing well and we’re both healthy, finally. It’s going to be tough. We know each other pretty well and I hope I bring my A-game.”
Tonight, of course, we return to the best-of-five format for the semi-finals. Just imagine how long last night’s 95-minute tussle between Asal and Makin would have lasted had it been best of five instead of the “shorter” version!
Asal has returned from suspension looking fit, strong and mobile. He hustled his way through a challenging encounter with Nathan Lake in the second round and stayed strong throughout last night’s immensely physical battle with Makin.
The Welshman matched Asal for quality in all areas of the court and the retrieving from both players was simply phenomenal.
Asal will need to stay at that level of performance tonight against Elias, who was forced to endure a long wait before starting his match against Nicolas Mueller.
That, too, delivered a match of fantastic quality from both players with Mueller’s fearless, outrageous attacking almost delivering another upset. A couple of tired tin shots halted his comeback in the third as the crowd were treated to another match to savour.
After squeezing through 11-9 in the third, Elias said: “I started warming up at 8 o’clock and came on court 10pm. I was excited to get on court but my energy levels dropped. I’m just happy I could win after such a long wait. It was a great match and Nicci hit some unbelievable shots.
“It will be a tough match in the semi-final, so I just want to be at my best.”
Final word from Asal the Entertainer: “Everything hurts after that match, but I came here to win, not to have fun. I’m only two matches away from getting the trophy, and I’m going to do it.”