Talented Egyptian Ali Farag came up with a huge victory in the second round of the 2016 Allam British Open, with a 3-2 upset of three-time winner Nick Matthew sending the Harvard graduate into the quarter-final on his first appearance at the prestigious PSA World Series tournament in Hull – setting up a meeting with compatriot and 2013 winner Ramy Ashour in the process.
Matthew was 2-1 up in an engaging, tightly-contested affair before his movement slowed considerably towards the end of the fourth after sustaining an ankle injury. Farag moved on to level things up and, despite battling bravely, a clearly struggling Matthew was unable to match him in the final game as Farag wrapped up a 4-11, 13-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-4 victory.
The rangy 23-year-old soon felt his way into the encounter though with a stunning back hand cross court volley drop into the nick drawing audible gasps from the crowd and he continued to target the front right hand corner throughout, eventually prevailing in a 13-11 tie-break.
Matthew came out in the crucial third game with renewed vigour and a sublime lob that died in the back left hand corner kickstarted the momentum that would ultimately see him go back in front after another tie-break. The duo were neck-and-neck again in a free-flowing fourth game with Matthew’s retrieval ability counteracting Farag’s attempts to drop the ball into the front of the court until injury struck and Matthew’s level dropped, giving Farag the advantage as he moved in to close out a result that has left Matthew questioning his future.
“I’ve got to credit Ali, he’s not just up and coming, he’s the finished article and he’s the player for me who is going to be up there challenging in the next few years,” said the 35-year-old three-time World Champion.
“He’s got a great attitude and he’s a great player. I like watching him play so fair play to him but from my point of view I don’t think I’ve played fit for about a year and it is starting to wear me down.
“I have to go away and consider my future because I can’t go on playing at 80 per cent every tournament. I’ve done well and shown my mental strength and experience but I wish I could just play fit, something Ramy could also say.
“But I’m out there doing what I love, it’s just frustrating when one movement makes that ankle go again, which has been the problem since El Gouna last year, and I’ve spent a year doing everything I could to get fully fit and you do start to question your future. I have to go and figure out how to come back from it and do myself justice on court. It’s not about winning or losing but about doing myself justice.
“Everyone was trying to support me and keep me going but I just couldn’t do it in the end.”
Result – Second Round: Men’s Allam British Open 2016
Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Nick Matthew (ENG) 3-2: 4-11, 13-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-4 (68m)
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