Egypt’s World No.10 Marwan ElShorbagy needed to use all of his experience to avoid an upset against 18-year-old compatriot Mostafa Asal as he pulled through in five games despite relinquishing a two-game advantage.
Asal came into the match after overturning a two-game deficit against Peru’s World No.7 Diego Elias in round two, and he threatened to do the same against ElShorbagy, but the older Egyptian pulled through in the fifth to close out an 11-5, 11-2, 7-11, 7-11, 11-5 triumph.
ElShorbagy started the better of the two, and had the freedom of the front of the court as a passive Asal struggled to get in front of the former World No.3. But it all changed in the third as the match began to get scrappier, which seemed to suit Asal as he stepped up to the court and was more aggressive with both his shots and his movement.
There was a brief injury scare for Asal in the fourth as he rolled his ankle when 6-0 up, but he regrouped to send the match to a decider. Referee John Massarella had his work cut out for him, with ElShorbagy in particular growing frustrated with his opponent’s movement, while Asal received a conduct warning for aggressive play.
At that point, ElShorbagy had built up a 5-2 lead, and it was one that he wouldn’t surrender as he moved on to clinch a victory, which will seen him line up in front of the iconic Great Pyramid of Giza against either World No.4 Karim Abdel Gawad or Hong Kong’s Leo Au.
“All credit to him, he’s been playing unbelievable well, beating Diego is such a good result, especially given that Diego has been playing quite well,” ElShorbagy said afterwards.
“Coming into this match, I knew I was playing another top player. I started the match really well to be honest, I was containing him and that was my game plan. He changed his game after the second game, he became more aggressive with the ball, and I think I became more passive.
“In the fifth game I told myself to get myself back to what I was doing. I did that well, I had a good start and I wanted to keep that lead as much as possible. It was a tough match of course, and I’m just happy to win overall.
“I’m pretty sure people have been saying that all week, but it’s a dream for me and all the players to play by the Pyramids. I used to come here when [Ahmed] Barada used to play and I was just little kid.
“I watched in 2006 when David Palmer won it as well, and I want to enjoy every single second of competing there. For now, I’m going to enjoy my day off tomorrow, normally when I play on the traditional court and the glass court, I separate it into two tournaments. The glass court is different, it’s a new tournament now for me.”
Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Mostafa Asal (EGY) 3-2: 11-5, 11-2, 7-11, 7-11, 11-5 (55m)