World No.1 and defending champion Ali Farag took another major step towards the defence of his title after emerging the last man standing in the classic battle against Peru’s World No.7 Diego Elias on the Glass Court of the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex.
Thursday’s quarter-final clash between the pair was one of the most interesting of the tournament as it kept the fans glued to their seat throughout, but in the end, victory went the way of the 28-year-old Egyptian who won 3-2 (11-6, 6-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7) to extend his head-to-head count against the “Peruvian Puma” to 12-2, and also secure his semis ticket where he will be up against the World Champion Tarek Momen.
“Diego and I have played over ten times now, a lot more, and it is always close. I have been getting the wins, luckily, but you see today how close it is. Somehow, every time I have been coming out as the winner,” Farag admitted.
“What a match that was today. He (Elias) was very subtle and smart with his tactics. The first, I started well and then in the second, he started slowing things down and twisting me a lot. I wasn’t happy with myself, in not dealing with it quick enough. It took me a game and a half to adjust accordingly.”
The final game of the contest was littered with refereeing decisions, as both players started to get tired after a gruelling four games full of powerful play and counterplays. Farag held a significant advantage early on, but the Peruvian fought back. However, a controversial decision gave Farag a 9-6 lead, and he was able to take the momentum to secure a victory, booking his place in the semi-finals.
Farag, who regained the No.1 spot from Mohamed ElShorbagy after claiming the title at last month’s CIB Egyptian Open, added, “I thought I had him in the third and the fourth, but that is how resilient he is, you know. He found a way back in it and then in the fifth; tactics went out of the window. You just have to grind it out, and luckily I did that today.”