Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-1 Youssef Soliman (EGY) 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-7 (54m)
For some strange reason, I thought we were starting the second session with the match Diego/Mazen, so when I saw Marwan sitting next to me in the coach seat, I asked him who is was coaching. “Youssef, for a change” he smiled. Panic, I look frenetically in my papers, find the match, and see that Youssef is playing against Mohamed. “Really” I go “and does your brother know about that?” Marwan still laughs about it I’m sure… Blond. I am so blond it’s frightening…
Back to the match, Mohamed had never played “officially” Youssef, although they train a lot in Bristol under Hadrian Stiff coaching. So maybe it was a bit hard for Mohamed to get into the competition mode to start with. One thing is sure, Mohamed was not focused. When I realised he was seeing people moving around the court as he was playing, I knew he was not switched on yet…
It was a beautiful match to watch. Youssef having nothing to lose was playing in the level that took Karim Abdel Gawad out a few months ago. Two errors each, no calls in the first two games, high quality match truly.
Close in the first game, up to 4/4, then Mohamed taking the lead, 7/4, 10/6, 11/7 in 12m, both mixing pace and height beautifully.
The second was closer throughout the game, 3/3, 4/4, 6/6, 7/7. A little drop of energy it seemed from Youssef at the end, 9/7 Mohamed, then 11/8. A few more errors for Mohamed – uncharacteristic – 4, 3 for Youssef, with the latter asking for a three minute injury time to be added to the 2m rest. His calf – covered with a high sock – was troubling him as it did yesterday he confessed at the end of the match.
The third exposes Mohamed mental “softness” as he named it at the end. From 1/1, two errors from Mohamed – and quick ones – coupled with lovely winners from Youssef, 5/1, then 8/4. A big push from Mohamed trying to finish in three, 8/9, but another error and an another winner for Youssef, game ball, 10/8.
On the third attempt, an obvious stroke – to us – called by the ref as well (only the third call of the match). Mohamed appeals and a let is given. The players and the crowd, slightly stunned… Oh well, it’s still 12/10 to Youssef on a stroke – not challenged this time, in 16m.
Mohamed will be more assertive in the last game, faster, still a few too many errors, but it’s the world number two that dominates that one, 5/2, 8/5, 9/6, 11/7 in 10m…
Oh and as he reminded me, Mohamed actually served out at 9/6 in the 4th bless him…
Well unfortunately, I had the same problem as yesterday, my shin really causing me a lot of trouble, and this time, treatment didn’t do much good whereas yesterday it really released the pain and spasm. So today, I felt that my legs were stuck in the ground and playing Mohamed with no legs is not that easy, I was fighting all the way through…
I think that today, I was a bit soft on the mental side. It’s a bit the same story every year, this tournament is great but always at the back of a platinium, and this year, right after the worlds. Well, I lost one year in the first round, and another time, I won it. At least this time, I didn’t lose in the first round!
It’s always hard, when during the season, you have tough calls and you have to make them, it can be hard to look at the positives, like last week when I lost in the World Champs. I had a big goal there and obviously that goal was taken away from me – thanks to my brother!
At the same time I have made three finals at my first four events and when you lose the World Champs it’s hard to look at it that way. It’s the mental strength of the game and you try to be as positive as you can.
I’m the kind of person who wants to improve and always likes to explore different areas of my game and see different thoughts of the game. I think everyone brings something different to the game and I have only one career, so I want to learn as much as I can. Sometimes things can work, sometimes they can’t and sometimes it’s quickly or it takes a bit longer but at the end of the day I have to keep a positive mindset.