Diego Elias celebrates.
Diego Elias celebrates.

PSA: Elias Ends Farag Hoodoo

Peru’s World No.4 Diego Elias has become the first South American in history to reach the final of the CIB PSA World Championships after he ended a six-match losing streak against defending champion Ali Farag at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation in Cairo, Egypt.

Elias had won just three of 25 matches against the World No.1 coming into tonight’s match, with his only win over the Egyptian on a glass court coming in the final of the 2022 U.S. Open – a match in which Farag retired injured after just two points.

But Elias was finally able to vanquish an opponent who had bested him so often in the past, battling to an 11-5, 11-8, 7-11, 11-7  victory to end Farag’s run of three successive World Championship titles.

It was a match characterised by long rallies and attritional squash, with much of the match taking place in the back corners. At 3-3, Elias took the initiative and went for the kill at the front of the court, taking eight of the next 10 points on offer to go a game ahead.

Farag looked to wear Elias down in the second and despite Elias beginning to look fatigued as a 26-minute second game wore on, a couple of crucial errors from Farag at the back end of the game handed the Peruvian a 2-0 lead.

The third game saw Farag continue to aim for lengthy, physical rallies to sap the energy from Elias’s legs and he was duly rewarded with victory in the third game.

There was still life left in Elias though. Farag threw everything he had at the Peruvian but the World No.1 was vulnerable and Elias sensed it, putting in some sublime counter drops to inch ahead to three match balls. He then put Farag threw a brutal rally, with the reigning World Champion clattering the ball into the tin to put Elias through to the final of the biggest squash tournament on the calendar.

“I’m very happy with how I played today,” said Elias, who will play either World No.2 Paul Coll or World No.3 Mostafa Asal in the final.

“Playing Ali [Farag] is always tough and I’ve lost to him more than 20 times, he’s one of the best ever and I’m super happy. Sometimes after the first game against Ali I give up and I get tired and I don’t push. But tonight I pushed as hard as I could and I think that was the difference.

“I fought really hard and winning the rounds before helped me get here as fresh as I can. I feel great, I’m going to be feeling good tomorrow and I can’t wait to play a World Championship final.

“We had a game plan but more than that, he [Diego’s father] was reminding me how hard I needed to push to beat Ali. I really didn’t want to leave tonight without the win.”

Farag said: “It’s a mixture of two things. One, he was too good on the day. But two, I’m honestly relieved it’s over.

“I was telling Nour [El Tayeb, Farag’s wife] before the event started, I’ve never been going into a World Championship where I feel I’m the favourite, and this time I was the heavy favourite and it got to me.

“Before the event I talked to my brother, to Karim [Darwish, Farag’s coach], to Nour and this is not the best I felt going into an event. I like the underdog feel, even if I was not  really the underdog. Or the feeling when I was coming back from injury or Mohamed [ElShorbagy] was the favourite, but this time I felt so much pressure.

“Today it got to me.”


[3] Diego Elias (PER) bt [1] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-1: 11-5, 11-8, 7-11, 11-7 (85m)