Omar El Torkey threatened to cause an upset after leading 8-4 in the fifth game but top seed Marwan Tarek dug himself out of the wormhole by winning seven successive points to score a 11-9, 6-11, 1-8, 2-11, 11-8 win in 92 minutes and reach the final of the World Junior Squash Championships at the Express Avenue mall on Sunday. It was the longest match of the tournament.
Women’s top seed Rowan Reda Araby and men’s second seed Mostafa Asal had no such problems against their opponents Jana Shiha and Mostafa El Serty who had come into the semifinals after energy-sapping five-game battles on Saturday. In the last semifinal of the day -- the only match involving a player outside Egypt -- second seed Hania El Hammamy defeated Englishwoman Lucy Turmel 11-6, 8-11, 11-4, 11-4 to ensure an all-Egyptian final in the men’s and women’s World Junior Squash
Championships on Monday.
There was a stoppage of nearly half an hour in the first game of the opening match as the lights in the court went out. With organisers scampering to get the match started, the players found themselves
warming up all over again. Marwan, who was leading 4-2 during the interruption, took time to get into the groove again but held firm to close out the game 11-9.
With Torkey matching the top seed shot for shot, the two ended up playing extremely long rallies for every point. Torkey, who seemed quicker on the court, often retrieved the ball from tough corners to keep the ball in play. Marwan, for his part, looked assured in his placement of shots despite being in tricky spots. It was only fitting that the match stretched to a fifth and deciding game.
The wild ball chases on the court seemed to have taken a toll on Torkey as he sprained his ankle when leading 3-2 and went on a medical timeout. If one thought it was going to be free ride for Marwan from
that point on, they couldn’t be more wrong. The third seed raced to a 8-4 lead. Fortunes, however, fluctuated again. Marwan, now showing urgency in his shots, won seven successive points to enter the summit clash.
“We always have tough matches. We didn’t want to make any errors in the game, so played for longer to find out who was tougher than the other and test each other’s fitness. It was a very physical game,” an exhausted Marwan said. His previous biggest win against Torkey came in the 2017 British U-17 Junior Open final.
Asked if the medical timeout helped him gain ground in the match, the Egyptian top seed said: “It may have helped me, but he seemed all right when he came back to the court. Luckily, I managed to win,” he
The No. 1 seed will face second seed Mostafa Asal in what promises to be an exciting final.
Though Mostafa is the second seed, he is the favourite to win the title. Since turning pro this year, Asal has already won three PSA titles and defeated Tarek to take the national title in Egypt.
Asal was confident of dethroning his compatriot. “Tarek had a good match but long match, so the tiredness could be a factor. I have played him before and I think I will be better prepared for tomorrow,”
In the women’s semifinal, top seed Rowan Redy Araby ran away with a 7-0 lead in the first game before Jana Shiha pulled things back a little, but it was too wide a gap to bridge for the 5/8 seed Shiha.
The second game was a lot closer, with Shiha playing a lot more freely but the defending world junior champion brought her A-game in the nick of time, focussed on placement of the shot and survived the second game. The third game was pretty much Araby’s to take and she did that with aplomb to reach her second successive final.
“It was a tough match. I started really well and then started changing my game plan which went against me, but I decide to stick to my A-plan and managed to get the win in the second game,” the Junior World No. 1 said. She will play second seed Hana El Hammamy in the final.
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