R2: Dimitri Steinmann 3-2 Aly Abou Eleinen

Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) 3-2 [14] Aly Abou Eleinen (EGY)  11-13, 11-8, 11-7, 3-11, 14-12 (83m)

Next opponent: Karim Abdel Gawad / Rory Stewart

Like the match before – Youssef Ibrahim/Juan Vargas – these were two lunatics, playing out of their skin for 83m.

I am always amazed – after 38 years on the job – how incredibly fit those gladiators are. And to be honest today, I saw how tired/exhausted/cramping Dimi was in the 5th game, and how he kept pushing. Although he was always a point ahead, he looked the more tired. So, hat to him first of all for not giving up on those ridiculous rallies in the middle of the game, and two, another hat to him for not losing his focus/concentration as the crowd – quite logically – was roaring every error he was making. That alone would have made me lose it.

What to say. Was the play fair? Yes. The first game didn’t start well with 19 decisions (especially from 10/7), so we could fear the worst. But thanks to a perfect handling of the match by Roy Gingel, the two warriors seemed to sort themselves out, only 43 at the end for a 14/12 in the 5th 83m match. The ref was looking carefully at Dimitri’s movement – as he has in the past shown a bit of naughtiness – but none of that today. And maybe a few no lets against the Egyptian that could seem harsh probably were because of Aly’s commitment to the wrong direction.

An incredible match today. Well handled by a strong ref. But not too oppressive or present. “I came out the third player” Roy smiled at the end. You know, referring is like make-up on a beautiful woman: it needs to be there but not seen.

Aly will replay the last points in his head so many times in the coming nights. He saved match balls, then set up two of his own but just had to bow to the winner in the end. Toss of a coin…

Dimitri : “It was a huge result, my best result so far on the PSA World Tour.

“Aly is a very solid and fit player, so I knew it was going to be tough. There was literally nothing that separated us today besides maybe a bit of luck on my side. I’m very happy to get over the line today.

“I enjoy the crowd cheering on my opponent. It doesn’t matter who they cheer for, it’s loud, it’s noisy and I like that, it doesn’t matter whether it’s for or against me. It creates an atmosphere and it got the absolute best out of me today.

“I’ve been playing really well recently and I think this is a result of the work I’ve put in over the past 12 months. I’m really happy it’s materialised in a last 16 appearance at the World Championships.”