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3rd September - Finals

 [3] Ramy Ashour
3-2 [1] Ali Farag       11-3, 11-8, 10-12, 2-11, 11-5 (60m)

[1] Nour El Sherbini 3-0 [4] Nouran Gohar             12-10, 11-7, 11-9 (39m)

Fram Reports
Nouran was hungry for her third final in a row. First against Raneem El Welily, then against Laura Massaro last year, and finally this time against Nour El Sherbini.

But Nour was the one that started strongly, taking the game immediately to her powerful opponent, 6/3. A few quick errors from Nour and we are 8/8. A little interruption due to Nour's right knee bleeding with profusion, and back on court they come. This time, Nouran has got the advantage, but won't be able to concretise her game ball, Nour forcing a tie-break that she wins 12/10.

The second is about the same scenarion, good start from Nour, 3/3 to 7/4, 8/5, 9/6, 11/7. After 26m of game, Nour seems in perfect control.

And she carries the momentum right in the 3rd, 4/0. Nouran fights tooth and nails to come back to 3/4, up Nour goes again 6/3, Nouran is right on her hills 6/6, 8/8. But Nour seems unstoppable today, and although Nouran will save a match ball, she bows 11/9 in 39m...

Now, Ali versus Ramy.

Like I often say, there are Squash Players, and then, there is Ramy Ashour.

He is a complete life in 60m, bless him. Up, down, off, out, and back again... Who ever he plays, it's never really about the other player, is it. It's all about how HE plays, how HIS body holds, how HIS head is responding to his Resident Demons....

Ali Farag. Fairest Ali. One of the most interesting/talented/original players our sport has ever bore. He doesn't play at a ridiculous pace. He doesn't play a flashy fast pace. He doesn't block. He doesn't push. He doesn't artgue. He just plays the ball, relentlessly, at a false comfortable pace that only he can play. And if you start playing at his pace, like a spider, he'll patiently imprison you in his web...

Baoum between those two in an all Egyptian Friends Final. Cause those two really like each other. But if in their previous meetings, I felt that Ali had a bit too much respect for his elder, this time, none of that. Ali was on court to win.

But today, he was facing a super Ramy from the first point to 9/5 in the 3rd....

When was the last time Ali got down to 6/0 in a game? It was not like Ali was not focused, or not playing great squash. Each rally was a battle, but Ali just couldn't find a way to pass Ramy. 10/1, all credit to Ali, he was playing as if it was the first point of the game, never giving Ramy an inch. The Artist takes the first game 11/3 in 9m.

The second is more balanced, 3/0 Ramy, 3/3, 6/3 Ramy again. A few lets, as both feel this is a crucial time. A very long rally, ending by a tin from Ramy who has hardly made an error since the beginning that gets Ali do one of his trademark Yalla Yalla Yallah!!!

A few strange decisions from the officials, have Ramy looking a few times to the Central Ref, questioning them a few times, same for Ali - neither of the players usually having discussions with the refs, interesting enough.

A highly questionable no let gives Ramy a game ball, 10/8, won with a superb kill 11/8 Ramy, 16m game.

The third sees a completely confident Ramy imposing his game throughout, while Ali seems lost at see and completely disheartened. Does Ramy relax a bit? Or does he feel a sharp pain after one of his ridiculous saves? Don't know. One thing is sure. Ali is clawing back, point after point, and starts to get into Ramy's head. 7/3, 8/4, 9/5 become 9/9.

Yet again a surprising no let against Ali gives Ramy a match ball, quickly tinned by the Artist, COME ON goes a pumped up Ali that will score the next two points, on a stroke and a no let that saw a Ramy throw his racquet on the floor.

When was the last time that happened....

Ramy doesn't show up in the 4th. And like a lot of people I'm sure, I thought he was injured as he strung the tins like marshmallows around a firecamp. 8 I counted, and in 5m, Ali has completely levelled the score, 11/2....

Ramy comes back with his dark face on. And the first two points don't look good at all, as he still doesn't seem to play. Surely Ali must feels he won, surely.

But as often, Ramy just connects back in the game, out of the blue, accepts to rally, extend the exchanges, finds the same precision he had in the first two and a half games. Ali has done a lot of work, and maybe drops the intensity a fraction. That's enough: 8/3, 9/4, 11/5, on a tin from Ali.

Like I said: up, down, off, out, and back again...

2nd September - Semis

[1] Ali Farag 3-1 [6] Paul Coll (Nzl)                         11-8, 5-11, 11-3, 12-10 (51m)
[3] Ramy Ashour 3-0 [2] Marwan ElShorbagy                  12-10, 11-3, 11-6 (41m)

[1] Nour El Sherbini 3-0 Joelle King (Nzl)                         12-10, 11-4, 11-6 (29m)
[4] Nouran Gohar 3-1 [2] Camille Serme                  11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8 (49m)

Fram reports
A very interesting match between Ramy and Marwan. As Junior beat Ramy in Bellevue,  not to mention being seeded higher than his elder, I felt that Marwan was tense from the word go: pressure....

Not that Ramy didn't play very good squash from the beginning mind, but 4 errors in 5 points that doesn't happen that often to Marwan. From 6/0 down, Junior started to get into the match, but Ramy was still the one proactive. Still, 7/7, 8/8. Marwan is in front, 10/8. The Artist will score the next 4 points - with a little help from the refs, a nice stroke at 9/10 that probably was only a let.

To be fair, the refs were very mean/generous with both players it felt, or maybe I lost the plot during the off season...

Second game again, Marwan on the back foot from the start, but this time, Ramy is playing truly superb squash, not letting his opponent breathe for a single second, always in front, putting immense pressure, 6/1, 8/2, 11/3 in 8m, first game was 15.

The third sees a much more positive Marwan, taking the game to a Ramy that seems a bit off mentally, 5/1. But Ramy wants his revenge. He will retrieve some exquisite shots from Marwan that seriously were incredible. At 5/6, an stupendous rally, Marwan is attacking at will, Ramy will dive 3 times on his bionic leg/hip/wrist, saves it to make 6/6.

From that point on, Ramy is flying, the writing in on the glass wall, and a few seconds later, it's 11/6 in 13m for the Artist. Marwan will be disappointed for sure. Had he taken the first, things could have been different...

PSA Quotes

For me its not just about the match and the result.

Its beyond that its about a whole lot of things coming together. There are certain matches that allow me to prove things to myself none else over the long term. They tell me things about me and the journey I am on.

I do a lot of things on my own, go through the struggles on my own, and try to find the right formula and balance the reward is when I can prove Im doing it right.

Being introduced onto court as the former this and former that, were in the now. Im proud of my achievements but its about now. Other players come up and Im trying to stay there and I showed I can still be there today.

Its the first event of the season. For the past few seasons Id do well in one event, but not be able to back it up or have that consistency. Im trying to get things right, find that balance, and at the moment, its good.

"For me, it's all about now. I'm proud of my achievements but other players come up. I showed I can still be there too"

 

"I'm very, very happy to win."

"I've enjoyed being here this week - it's my first time competing in Shanghai. I always seem to play well in the Far East, I'm not sure why but I feel comfortable in this part of the world.

"And with a venue like, with these views, it's make me proud of our sport. But I couldn't have done it today without the team who've been behind me both at this event and back home.

"Ali is a very fair and smart player and it was a great battle on court today - and I hope we are going to have many more in the future."

"It was a great match. He's one of the most naturally gifted players ever to play the game so to be on court pushing him to five games in a final was a privilege for me. We both gave it our very best.

"I'm really happy - it's a great start to the season."

"I'm happy with the way I played and the level of my performance. I had no real expectations today - I was just focusing on my game plan and I think the first game gave me a lot of confidence.

"So I'm happy with the way it came together today and hopefully I can continue to play well throughout the season."

Media preview

  Leonard Lee reports on the semis

All our past matches have been very tough she won the last few meetings so I knew what to expect from her"

Shes been on top of her game recently but I tried to focus on enjoying the match. I didnt put any pressure on myself, I just concentrated on enjoy being here and just giving it my best.

I like this event and Ive a good record here its an amazing location. Ive made the final here three times and the first time I reached the top ten, my first win over Nicol and my first big final all came here.

Ive got great memories here so hopefully I can add another one by winning the final tomorrow.

She had two big wins and has been playing well in this event so I knew I had to stay focused and stick to my game.

Shes one of the tallest players Ive played and she covers the court very well. Taking that first game was very important for the outcome.

Its my first time here and Im excited to be in the final. Im excited about the match its been a good start to the season so far, so hopefully I can keep it going.

He likes to take the ball early and in the second I went too short too early.

I had to vary the pace and get him behind me. I did that in the third. In the fourth it was close but a few edgy errors from him helped. Hes known as being one of the fittest guys on Tour so Im happy I tightened up to see it out.

Tomorrow is a big final. Its my fifth in a year and I havent won any of them so hopefully I turn it around and against players like Ramy, they help you raise your game.

Hopefully tomorrow we can have a great game Im looking forward to it.

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