The semi-finals of the men’s event at the CIB Black Ball Squash Open take place today, with action beginning at 19:00 (GMT+2) at the Black Ball Sporting Club as the places in the last PSA World Tour final of 2020 are taken.
Following a high-quality women’s event, which saw the top three seeds all fail to reach the semi-finals, there are also a couple of surprise appearance in the last four of the men’s draw.
The top two seeds, in Ali Farag and Tarek Momen, both safely made it through to the semi-finals in Cairo. However, instead of the usual suspects that they normally face, it is compatriots Fares Dessouky and Mostafa Asal, both outside the top ten in the World Rankings, who are in the last four alongside them.
You can catch all the action live from the Black Ball Sporting Club on SquashTV, and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour (Indian sub-continent only) and multiple broadcasters around the world.
You can also keep up with the live scores from the event here.
Here's the Order of Play
(All times are local – GMT+2)
Ali Farag v Mostafa Asal
The first match sees World No.1 Ali Farag takes on Mostafa Asal in a semi-final for the second time already this season, as the rising star continues to impress in 2020.
Their last meeting came in the semis of the CIB Egyptian Open, with Farag winning 3-1 in front of the Pyramids, en route to winning the Platinum level tournament. That continued his 100% record over his 19-year-old compatriot, with wins at the 2019 Allam British Open, 2018-19 PSA World Championships and this very event two years ago, where the pair met in the third round.
Farag’s route through to the semi-finals has not been without some worries, as he went down in both his first round and quarter-final matches. However, he is yet to spend an hour on court during a single match, having defeated Spain’s Iker Pajares Bernabeu on the opening day, before wins against compatriots Omar Mosaad and Mohamed Abouelghar to reach the last four.
Compare that to the 19-year-old Asal, who has been on court for an hour longer than Farag across his three matches, with his first two contests going the distance. He had to come from behind to defeat India’s Mahesh Mangaonkar, before taking out New Zealand’s Paul Coll for the second time in three months. The Egyptian downed Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez in straight games in the last eight.
Having won 13 straight matches, with titles coming at the CIB Egyptian Open and Qatar Classic, Farag is clear at the top of the SquashLevels Power Ratings, with a level just shy of 80,000. Due to the high level of his performances before this week, his level has actually dropped slightly, but he is still very much the favourite.
Asal is the underdog in this clash, sitting at #9 on the SquashLevels Power Ratings. His level has risen by around 5% over the course of the week, and he has now reached the 60,000 mark for the first time.
Can Farag continue this impressive run at the start of the 2020 campaign? Or can Asal cause an upset and knock out the World No.1?
Fares Dessouky v Tarek Momen
The second semi-final pits Fares Dessouky against the current World Champion, Tarek Momen, with the former reaching the last four in back-to-back tournaments for the first time in over three years.
It is Momen who holds a 3-0 advantage over his fellow Egyptian, with their most recent meeting coming in the second round of the CIB Egyptian Open in October. That was the only clash between the pair that has not gone to a fifth game.
Dessouky has spent, on average, 59 minutes on court per match. He overcame Frenchman Baptiste Masotti in straight games in the opening round, before knocking out defending Black Ball Open champion Karim Abdel Gawad in the last 16. After falling behind in his quarter-final against Peru’s Diego Elias, he came back to win 3-1 in 76 minutes, the longest of his three contests to reach the semi-final stage.
Momen, on the other hand, is yet to really be challenged, having spent 50 minutes less on court across his three matches. ‘The Viper’ downed USA’s Todd Harrity in the first round, before overcoming compatriot Mazen Hesham in four games in the last 16. He then got the better of Welshman Joel Makin in straight games to reach the last four.
Dessouky has improved by almost 4% on the SquashLevels Power Ratings through this Gold level tournament, and now occupies the #7 spot in the Ratings following his victory over Diego Elias, the man that separates himself from Momen in the charts.
The reigning World Champion is currently the #5 on the SquashLevels Power Ratings, with a level only slightly higher than tonight’s opponent. He is the slight favourite over Dessouky, but this one is expected to go the distance.
Can Dessouky go one further than he did in Qatar and reach the final here? Or will Momen continue his 100% record over his fellow Egyptian?