The Qatar Classic has one of the richest histories on the PSA World Tour, with the tournament first appearing on the calendar back in the early 2000s.
Since then, the event has gone from strength to strength, and it has been a major tournament for many years now, only taking a break from being held when the PSA World Championships were held in the country.
The Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex plays host to the tournament, and has done since its inception on Tour.
Last year’s event was one of the first to be held under the new COVID protocols, but that did not stop the shocks and surprises from happening on court.
This is the story of the 2020 Qatar Classic.
Qatari Favourite Al Tamimi Survives First Round Scare
Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi came into the tournament as the crowd favourite, with the World No.30, and Qatari No.1 hoping to have a good run at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex on home soil.
His first round encounter on the glass court saw him take on up-and-coming Englishman Patrick Rooney, and it was a contest that went all the way, lasting just under an hour.
The Qatari went 2-1 up, but a spirited fightback from the Englishman saw him level the match and send it into a decider. However, it would eventually be Al Tamimi that made it through to the last 32 of the Platinum level tournament.
England’s George Parker and France’s Victor Crouin played out a five-game, 66-minute battle on the glass as well on day one, with the Englishman coming out on top in the end. Elsewhere, Shahjahan Khan and Youssef Ibrahim also took surprise wins to make it into the second round in Doha.
Golan Rolls Back The Years
37-years-old played 32-years-old in the second round, as the experienced Spaniard, Borja Golan, took on the ‘Hammer of Thor’ Omar Mosaad for a place in the last 16 of the tournament.
The World No.26, who will celebrate 20 years as a professional on the Tour this December, came into the contest ranking ten places below the Egyptian in the World Rankings, but that meant nothing.
It was a typical Golan performance, slowing the pace and forcing the match to go longer, and that played to his advantage in the end. The pair did battle for 68 minutes on court, with the Spaniard winning a fourth-game tie-break 13-11 to claim the win and move into the third round in Doha.
Over the two days of round two action there were several other surprises. Germany’s Raphael Kandra took out Indian No.1 Saurav Ghosal, Fares Dessouky defeated the ‘Tree Chopper’ Simon Rösner, and Youssef Ibrahim went through after Mexico’s Cesar Salazar had to retire through injury.
Ibrahim Tames ‘The Beast’
The shock of the tournament came in the second round, as Egypt’s Youssef Ibrahim, the World No.41 at that point in time, took out World No.2 and top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy to advance to his first Platinum quarter-final.
The young Egyptian had shown glimpses before of his quality, but it was this performance against the ‘Beast of Alexandria’ that announced himself on the big stage.
After going 2-1 down at the end of the third game, Ibrahim recovered himself, and saved two match balls in the fourth before going on to take it on a tie-break 15-13, sending the match into a decider. He then showed his ability in the fifth, shutting ElShorbagy out in parts, and winning it 11-6, causing one of the upsets of the tournament, and the season as a whole.
He was not the only unseeded player to make it through to the quarter-finals in Doha in 2020, as Fares Dessouky also did so, taking out Spain’s Borja Golan in the third round to make it through.
All Four Quarters Go The Distance
Quarter-finals night in Qatar was incredible, and long. All four matches went to a deciding game and lasted longer than an hour, but in the end, the higher-ranked players made it through to the semis.
The first contest set the tone for the evening, as World No.5 Paul Coll took on World No.6 Marwan ElShorbagy for a place in the last four at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.
75 minutes later, and after five pulsating games, the Kiwi booked his spot in the semis, having come from a game downs to take the win. The second match saw Tarek Momen and Joel Makin duel it out for even longer.
The Welshman took the first game, but the reigning World Champion, who had secured his victory on the same court, fought back into it, and eventually went on to win the match after 79 minutes, booking his place in the last four.
World No.1 Ali Farag then faced off against World No.5 Diego Elias in a fast and frenetic encounter, with both players getting balls back that they shouldn’t have been able to.
Farag had to fight from 2-1 down to secure the victory, winning the last two games to book his place in the last four. He was then joined by Fares Dessouky, who came up against Youssef Ibrahim in an all-unseeded contest.
Both of them had taken out seeded players to make it through to the quarter-finals of the Qatar Classic, and the match went back and forth, with Dessouky holding the lead twice, before the left-handed Ibrahim fought back into it with two tie-break victories. It was eventually the now World No.7 who claimed the win, in 66 minutes.
Farag Downs Coll To Retain Title
Following straight-games wins in the semis, New Zealand’s Paul Coll took on World No.1 Ali Farag in the final of the 2020 Qatar Classic, and it would be the Egyptian who retained the title he had won two years previous.
The meeting in Qatar was their second in a final in 2020, having already come face to face in the final of the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family in Chicago. Farag won that one after coming from behind, but he went out early into the lead in Doha.
Coll then showed his class to fight back in the second game and level the match, but Farag was able to withstand the pressure from the Kiwi to claim the victory, and become a two-time Qatar Classic champion.