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Ali Farag with the Houston Open trophy

Farag Defeats Hesham To Lift Houston Open Title

Egypt’s World No.1 Ali Farag started the year in the best possible way, as he got the better of compatriot Mazen Hesham in four games to claim the first silverware on offer in 2022, winning the PSA World Tour Gold level Houston Open in Texas.

It was the tenth contest between the Egyptian duo on the PSA World Tour, with the World No.1 having won eight of the previous nine, including their last six meetings. Hesham’s only success over his fellow countryman came back in 2015, in the quarter finals of the Qatar Classic.

Farag started strongly, aiming to keep that good run going, and although ‘the Falcon’ was able to level the first at 6-6, a quick burst gave the two-time World Champion the edge, and he took it 11-6 to lead. However, that Hesham fought back in the second, and although he saw the World No.1 save three game balls, he was eventually able to convert it 11-8 to level the match.

It continued to be a struggle for Farag early on in the third, but he weathered the storm, and then managed to get back on the front foot of the middle part of the game and he established his dominance once more.

That continued into the fourth, where the World No.1 was able to run away with it in the end, cruising to victory after 50 minutes of action. Farag secured his 25th title on the PSA World Tour, and the first Gold level title in Houston.

“I don’t think I necessarily started shakily, as much I get edgy playing Mazen because of how skilful he is,” Farag said after the match.

Ali Farag

“You’re always on your toes, you don’t know what to expect in the next shot, I don’t think he knows what to expect it, and that is how skilful he is. It makes you very edgy and as much as I am happy about this win, I am extremely happy for Mazen as well.

“Mazen and I actually started out on Tour together and I was looking up to him when we first started and he made it to the semi-finals of a Platinum event at a very young age and he has been unlucky a lot of niggles, a lot of injuries. He has been battling hard, I see him every day in training, we share a lot of things together and finally, he is where he deserves, and it is only going to get better for him, so I am extremely happy for Mazen, for sure!

“I am blessed with what I have achieved so far in my squash career and in my life. I have a beautiful wife back home, I tried to reach her but she is sleeping right now. I have a beautiful daughter, and my family, everyone! Talking about here, I am extremely happy to be here, extremely happy to have won the first Gold event here in Houston. What Jahanzeb [Khan] has done here in amazing. He has built a community out of almost nothing. Our sport needs people like you so we can’t thank you enough!

“The main sponsor, Champion Fibreglass, thank you so much for supporting us. It means a lot to us! A few more words about Mazen, because we share a lot of things. We share a fitness trainer, who is very important to our hearts! To our strength and conditioning expert as well, we can’t thank them enough.

“We share the same club, Wadi Degla, as we like to call it, the ‘Community of Champions’. We share the same sponsor, Expression Networks, and most of all, we share a great friendship that I think will last a long time beyond our squash career. I am honoured to share a court with him today and hopefully it is the first of many to come!”

Hesham said: “It is a week of firsts. I am really happy, it doesn’t look like it, but I am really happy with what I have achieved this week. I have had a few milestones in this tournament, mentally and physically.

“I wish I could have performed better, but my shins didn’t help me in the end. All credit to Ali, he is a champion, he is the World No.1. He deserves to be in his place, he deserves to be in this position and hopefully next time, and one day, I will be in this position, if a few things happen my way!

“I want to thank everyone here for coming and cheering me on. You guys know how much I love you, how much I like playing here. I want to thank Jahanzeb Khan, and all the hard work he has put in. Everybody here, people are great to me here, I will keep coming and hopefully next time I will be the champion.”

Final Result: Houston Open
[1] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [6] Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 8-11, 11-7, 11-3 (50m)

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