From the tournament director:
Jesse’s match report below goes into the specifics but I’d like to make a special mention of the professionalism and sportsmanship that these two athletes displayed on and off the court during the match.
Both Clinton Leeuw and Ali Farag played a clean, masterful game worthy of a final and delighted our sponsors and spectators. They showed us how this great sport should be played, applauding each other’s shots and entertaining the crowd. Thank you both for being such gentlemen and consummate professionals!
Match report by Jesse Cramer
Photos to follow….
Ali Farag (EGY) bt. Clinton Leeuw (RSA) 9-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-8) (50m)
Clinton Leeuw (RSA) came out firing today against Ali Farag (EGY), and Ali was slow to respond. A series of solid drops by Clinton and tins by Ali gave Clinton a 3-0 lead, which steadily grew to 5-1, then 8-2. Then, at 8-3, Clinton tripped over Ali at the T and stumbled awkwardly. Luckily, everyone was okay. But that marked a turning point as Ali started playing error-free and fought back to 6-8, then 8-9, then 9-9. We have ourselves a match! A tight drop from Clinton pinched Ali into a tin, and then a cross court fade bounced twice before Ali could get his racket on it. Clinton wins the first 11-9 in ten minutes.
The second game had Ali doing all the scoring early some. Some positive scoring via the nick, some negative scoring via the tin. The score was locked at 3, and the crowd was applauding or groaning after Ali’s every attack. Clinton kept playing steady squash and built a 5-3 lead. Ali fought back to 5-5 using a three wall boast nick and a stroke against Clinton. Clinton responded by dunking a loose crosscourt into the nick. Anything you can do, I can do better; Ali returns the serve into the nick and it’s 6-6. A few rare unforced errors by Clinton give Ali a 9-7, then a 10-8 lead. Another tin by Clinton, and Ali wins the second 11-8 in 10 minutes.
The third was all Ali from start to finish. Nick, nick, force a stroke. Hold, drop, drive, force a tin. Ali was up 9-0 before Clinton got on the board. Even in the rare rally that Clinton controlled, it was Ali who managed to score the point. After another winner and another tin, Ali had won the third 11-2 in 8 minutes.
In the fourth, Clinton came out determined not to let Ali attack any loose balls. Instead, he played tight drives and tight drops and built a 2-0 lead. But the easy tins continued to plague Clinton, and Ali fired back to take a 5-2 lead. The boys then went back and forth, exchanging nicks, tins, and strokes. Ali led 8-7, but Clinton had him on the run. Ali leaves a loose ball in the front; Clinton drops, but into the tin! The crowd groaned, a golden opportunity gone. But Clinton continued to fight and sent Ali the wrong way with a straight drive to pull back to 8-9. Clinton controlled the next rally as well, but Ali managed to play a three wall boast into the nick yet again; he had at least five rollers today from that same exact shot. Ali had secured two game balls. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed the next rally, as the boys had arguably saved their best squash for last. Great retrieving, great attacking. It was all out, as Clinton fought for the right the continue and Ali just wanted to end it. After 90 seconds of all out squash, Clinton just clipped the tin. Game and match to Ali, 11-8 after 14 minutes.
A great final after a fantastic tournament.