Farag claims fifth title of season in Houston
Ali Farag secured his fifth title of the season, and the 38th of his PSA career, comfortably beating Mazen Hesham in an all-Egyptian final at the Houston Squash Club.
Hesham had played some scintillating squash on his way to the final, upsetting both Mostafa Asal and Mohamed Elshorbagy in five games, but was no match for the World #1 as Farag completed the win in 36 minutes.
“It means a lot,” Farag said. “I think I played really good squash all week. I progressed every day, better than the day before, but I would say that the draw helped me a little bit. My opponents were a little bit fatigued coming into my matches, especially Karim yesterday and Mazen today.
“But I won’t take any credit away from myself. I think I capitalised on it well, I was focused from the very first point all the way to the end, because even when they are fatigued, they can hurt you big time, so I’m very pleased.”
Semis : Hesham wins another five-setter to set up Farag final
Mazen Hesham produced another sensational five-game performance to knock out Mohamed Elshorbagy and reach the final, where he will play top seed Ali Farag.
“It was physically very tough, mentally very tough,” Hesham said. “Playing Mohamed is always a tough match. He’s a legend of the game and he pushes you to the max, so I’m very, very pleased with how I fought back. “He didn’t give it to me easily and I had to push for it, and luckily it really went my way this time.”
Hesham’s thrilling win followed a comfortable victory for Farag, who beat a struggling Karim Abdel Gawad 3-0 in the first semi-final. Gawad only returned from injury at last week’s Pittsburgh Open, and came into this encounter having gone to five in each of his first two matches here.
Farag dominated proceedings, soon clinching victory to continue his record of having reached the final of every event he’s played in this season.
“I’m very pleased,” he said. “I knew Karim was going to come in not at 100%. He’s had an injury, he was out for over a month and a half and barely had any practice matches under his belt. Then he came and won a Silver event playing four matches back-to-back, then having to back it up here and play two five-setters is not easy, so credit to him for reaching the semis in the first place.
“But I didn’t want to lose the first game quickly, because adrenaline can do wonders if you’re winning and you get going, so I tried to elongate the rallies from the very beginning and maintain my focus all the way through, which I’m very pleased I managed to do for the most part.”
Quarters : Hesham upsets Asal in five game thriller
Mazen Hesham knocked out defending champion Mostafa Asal in a dramatic finale to quarter-finals day in Houston.
Hesham and Asal met in the SmartCentres Kinetic Florida Open final a few weeks ago, with Asal winning 3-1 to claim the title, but this was a different story, as the players went toe-to-toe over close to 90 minutes of drama-filled action.
“I’ve been trying to look for these wins from the beginning of the season,” he said. “I made a promise to myself and to my coaches as well. I told them at the beginning of the season that I just want to keep moving forward, and then hopefully in 2024 we were going to have another phase where I can challenge these guys and get to the top with them, and see who’s better.”
Hesham’s win followed an impressive display from Mohamed Elshorbagy, who beat Miguel Rodriguez 3-0 in what was his 706th match on the PSA Tour, moving him up to third on the all-time list of men’s appearances.
In the top half of the draw Ali Farag and Karim Abdel Gawad advanced to the semi-finals with wins over compatriots Tarek Momen and Aly Abou Eleinen.
Day Three : Rodriguez gets Bonmalais revenge as last eight are confirmed
Miguel Rodriguez gained revenge on Sebastian Bonmalais while Mostafa Asal kicked off his title defence in style as the quarter-final line-ups were settled on day three in Houston.
Bonmalais stunned the Colombian with an outstanding performance at the SmartCentres Kinetic Florida Open in January, but there would be no repeat in Texas, as Rodriguez came out on top.
“He’s playing his best squash this year, and I wanted to take revenge,” Rodriguez said. “I was out of rhythm and all credit to him because he played very well in the tournament in Florida. Then I played a couple of tournaments – TOC and Detroit, where I made the semis – and I’m in the rhythm again, I have more stamina in my legs so I felt the difference today.
Victory for Rodriguez was followed by a ruthless performance from defending champion Asal, who needed just 31 minutes to sweep aside Juan Camilo Vargas.
Mohamed Elshorbagy and Mazen Hesham also recorded 3-0 wins to reach the quarter-finals.
Day Two : Gawad survives as Egyptian quartet advance to the quarters
Fourth seed Karim Abdel Gawad avoided a major upset as Round Two began, coming from two games down to beat the USA’s Timothy Brownell.
Gawad, back inside the top five of the world’s rankings this week, came into this event after picking up the Pittsburgh Open title last week, but was far from his best against the American left-hander.
“I had a very slow start,” Gawad said after his win. “In the first two games, I couldn’t read him at all, I couldn’t see the ball very well, so I was moving a bit slowly. Starting from the third, I started moving better, started to read him much better than at the beginning and luckily it went my way at the end.”
His opponent in the last eight will be fellow Egyptian Aly Abou Eleinen, who came from a game down to beat Baptiste Masotti in the final match of the day.
Top seed Ali Farag and sixth seed Tarek Momen also won, completing the Egyptian clean sweep on day two.
Round One : four upsets on the opening day
The Houston Men’s Open got under way with three 9/16 seeds falling on the opening day at Houston Squash Club.
Hong Kong’s Henry Leung took out Ramit Tandon in five games, while Balasz Farkas, Cesar Salazar and Juan Vargas all advanced at the expense of 9/16 seeds.