World No.2 Ali Farag was forced to five games as he overcame Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller to reach the quarter finals of the CIB Egyptian Open taking place in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
World No.33 Mueller put top seed Farag under a huge amount of pressure throughout all five games with the Egyptian just able to sneak out the tie to move into the quarter finals where he will take on former World No.1 Gregory Gaultier.
Mueller, who showed off his shot making abilities to full effect on one of the sport’s most iconic stages, saved two game balls to take the first game on the tie-break with uncharacteristic errors coming from the racket of Farag as he looked to be struggling with an injury to his finger.
The World No.2 rallied back well though to take the next two games before Mueller once again pulled out some of his best squash to push the match to a tense decider.
"Shot of the month has just been nailed again!"
Behind the back madness from
MuellerNicolas</a>!! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SquashByThePyramids?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SquashByThePyramids</a> <a href="https://t.co/tIXqSEvl5J">pic.twitter.com/tIXqSEvl5J</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) October 12, 2020
Unfortunately for the Swiss Rocket, tiredness seem to have got the better of him in the fifth, as despite cutting down Farag’s lead he was unable to take advantage of an off-day from the Egyptian as he closed out the 10-12, 11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7 victory in 77-minutes.
“I did feel the threat,” admitted Farag afterwards.
“I wasn’t necessarily thinking about the seeding – they’re just numbers, it’s about who plays better on the day. It’s one of those matches that you’re proud to win, to come up against an opponent who is playing better than you for the whole five games. You just have to grind it out and a big thanks to the physio today, Laoise, she has been very helpful. It’s a little thing [finger injury] but it can affect your game big time. She dealt with it in the best way possible, so I’d really like to thank her.
“The injury was a very silly thing in the morning, I was opening a can of oatmeal, I just had my breakfast and cut my finger. You’d be surprised how much it affects the holding of the grip and I just missed so many easy shots because I couldn’t hold the grip properly. In a fraction of a second I’m thinking about it and then I’m wrong footed, all of this plays in your head but I’m happy to still be in the tournament and have a day off, where I’ll be playing without it and hopefully all will be good.
“20 years ago, I was in the same place [as the fans] and I dreamt of being in the same place. I think it’s one of the reasons why Egypt is doing so well at the moment because we all aspire to be like the likes of [Ahmed] Barada, [Karim] Darwish, [Amr] Shabana and Ramy Ashour – all of the great legends that have come out of Egypt. I hope many of the players watching in the crowd will be playing on here one day.”
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-2: 10-12, 11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7 (77m)