Semi-Final Report: Asal v James

In the last semi-final of the day, Egypt’s Mostafa Asal ended the Alexandra Palace crowd’s hopes of a home winner with a straight gameswin over English wildcard Declan James.

World No.76 James, back on the PSA World Tour after over a year out with an achilles injury, has already shocked Mohamed ElSherbini, No.6 seed Baptiste Masotti and No.3 seed Karim Abdel Gawad but today’s contest against the former World No.1 proved one too many.

Asal moved ahead with an 11-6 win in game one before cruising into a 2-0 lead with an 11-3 victory in game two, with Asal’s attacks now free-flowing.

The No.2 seed took no prisoners early in game three, playing creatively as he took the first seven points of the game.

To the delight of the crowd, James began to plot an incredible comeback, winning points in quick succession to reduce the deficit to 8-7.

Asal seemed to have recovered when he earned two match balls at 10-8, but could not convert, with James whipping the crowd into a frenzy as he saved both to take the game to a tie break.

This time, though, Asal made no mistake, winning the tie break at the first opportunity 12-10 and set up a final v Paul Coll.

Afterwards, Asal said: “Lots of things happening in that match. Declan’s a unique player, it was really difficult for me to play someone with the quality of Declan.

“We’ve had some great battles and to see him coming back and beating Gawad, beating Baptiste, that’s something very special and unique. He’s a quality player, he’s charismatic and it’s such a pleasure to play alongside him.

“I was going for shots and attacking from the beginning then this stopped a bit and I stopped finding my game. Credit to him, he’s 30 years old and is playing in front of this amazing crowd.

“I’m pleased for him and his comeback and are getting ready for tomorrow.

“Even before [I trained with James Willstrop] I liked to play [the windmill fake shot] with my brother. It’s an amazing shot and I’m trying to copy it and today I’m glad it came through!”

Result: [2] Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt [WC] Declan James (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-3, 12-10 (55m)

The finals of the GillenMarkets London Squash Classic take place tomorrow, 01 April, at Alexandra Palace. Action will be streamed live on SQUASHTV and partner channels from 15:00 (GMT+1).

For more information on the GillenMarkets London Squash Classic, visit the PSA website or follow the PSA on XFacebookInstagramTikTok, and YouTube. You can also keep track of all of the live scores from the event by clicking here.