World No.1 Ali Farag and Egypt’s Mazen Hesham will face off in the final of the PSA World Tour Gold level Houston Open after the pair got the better of Egypt’s Mostafa Asal and Frenchman Gregoire Marche in their respective last four clashes at the Houston Squash Club.
Farag and Asal were facing off for the 11th time on Tour, and the World No.1 came in to the contest with a 9-1 advantage over the ‘Raging Bull’, but it was the youngster who started the stronger of the two, pinning Farag behind him on court, as he held control.
However, a quick fire second game saw the two-time World Champion tie the match, before then going on to win the third on a tight tie-break, 13-11. Asal fought back once more though, to take the fourth and send the match into a decider.
The fifth game became slightly scrappier, with several stoppages due to refereeing decisions. Farag was able to keep his composure to take the victory, his tenth over Asal, and to move through into the final in Houston.
“It’s never easy playing Mostafa. I think both of us are better squash players than what we produced today,” Farag explained.
“Today was very [fragmented], with lots of stoppages and I think we enjoy playing more free-flowing squash. The crowd deserves more free-flowing squash, but it is what it is. Some matches you have to get through like this. I’m just glad that I’m through.”
“Thanks to Mike Way, my head coach at Harvard. Ever since my Harvard years, he taught me that – and I know it’s a cliche – but you can only control the things you can control. I try not to get distracted by any outside circumstances; I try to focus on the task at hand. In the fourth, I was totally blown away. It wasn’t good. But I had to let it go to regroup in the fifth and thankfully I did that. But again, it wasn’t the prettiest squash.”
“Mostafa’s only 20 years old and we’ve already played over ten times. It’s a testament to how good he is. He’s reaching the latter stages of tournaments from a very young age. I wish I was like that when I was his age! The scary thing is that he’s only going to get better from here.”
Farag will face compatriot Mazen Hesham in Sunday’s final at Houston Squash Club, after the Egyptian overcame the challenge of France’s Gregoire Marche, winning in straight games to book his place into a Gold level final on the PSA World Tour for the first time in his career.
The Egyptian, who has struggled with injuries throughout most of his career, is back to his best, and he was able to show that from the off against the Frenchman, with both men having come through five-game battles on quarter finals night.
After ‘the Falcon’ claimed the first game on a tie-break, he was able to carry that momentum through the second game, where he doubled his advantage. However, Marche fought back in the third, and Hesham had to save several game balls. He did, and at the second time of asking, took the victory to secure his place in Sunday’s final.
“First of all, I’m really happy with the way I am at the moment. Im here playing and enjoying my squash again, showing what I can do and playing the brand of squash I want to play, entertaining people and entertaining myself, hearing people cheering and loving squash every day,” Hesham explained.
“I have mixed feelings to be honest. If you’d told me a week ago that I was going to be in the final, I would say I think I deserve it. Of course, after what God gave me, and with God’s blessing, I did enough hard work. I’ve been working, battling injuries for six or seven years now and even yesterday I was battling injuries.
“Ali Farag and I are good friends. Of course, he’s World No.1 and even though I have [beaten him], the head-to-head record goes to him. So I need to come back for one more day tomorrow, put on a show, match him up and hopefully the crowd will enjoy it. May the best player win!”
The final will take place tomorrow, Sunday, January 9, at 16:00 (GMT-6) with live action being shown on SQUASHTV.
Semi-Final Results: Houston Open
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Mostafa Asal (EGY) 3-2: 6-11, 11-2, 13-11, 4-11, 11-3 (82m)
 Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt  Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-0: 13-11, 11-5, 13-11 (52m)
Final: Houston Open (To Be Played Sunday, January 9th)
 Ali Farag (EGY) v  Mazen Hesham (EGY)