21 Aug 2017

Top seed and favourite for gold, Egypt’s Ahmed Al Saleh won the Men’s Singles title at the Seamaster 17th Arab Cup in Muscat, Oman on Sunday 20th August and thus became one of two players to have secured the title on three occasions.

Previously he won in 2005 in Beirut and in 2009 on home soil in Cairo; thus he equals the record of compatriot El-Sayed Lashin. He succeeded in 2001 in the Tunisian city of Sousse, before in 2003 and 2007 emerging victorious in Sana’a, Yemen.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

At the final hurdle Ahmed Ali Saleh overcame colleague, Mohamed El-Beiali, the no.2 seed and winner in 2013 in Erbil, Iraq (4-11, 5-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-5, 11-9), having earlier in the day at the semi-final stage ousted Tunisia’s Adem Hmam, the no.4 seed (11-13, 11-7, 11-5, 11-9, 11-3).

“My first goal was to win this competition why? Because I won my first Arab Cup over 10 years ago and with the same coach Maged Ashour; that’s why this title is very special for me.” Ahmed Al Saleh

In the counterpart semi-final, Mohamed El-Beiali accounted for Algeria’s Sami Kherouf (13-11, 11-7, 10-12, 12-14, 11-6, 11-3); the third place match was not contested.

Success for Egypt on the concluding day of action; there was also success for the north African country in both the Women’s Singles and Women’s Doubles events but not in the Men’s Doubles competition.

Mohamed El-Beiali and Ahmed Ali Saleh, the top seeds, experienced a semi-final Men’s Doubles defeat at the hands Qatar’s Fahed Almughanne and Ahmed Alawlaqi (8-11, 11-9, 10-12, 12-10, 11-6).

A splendid effort by the Qatari duo but it was not to be gold; at the final hurdle they experienced defeat at the hands of Algeria’s Aissa Belkadi and Sami Kherouf (11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 11-9). Earlier, in the penultimate round Aissa Belkadi and Sami Kherouf had ended the hopes of Oman’s Abdullah Khalfan Al-Zouabi and Fadi Kamal Masalmeh (11-3, 11-7, 11-5).

Defeat for Mohamed El-Beiali and Ahmed Ali Saleh, the consolation was the third step of the podium; in the bronze medal match they accounted for Abdullah Khalfan Al-Zouabi and Fadi Kamal Masalmeh (11-5, 11-3, 11-5)

Bronze for Egypt in the Men’s Doubles event but in both the Women’s Singles and Women’s Doubles competitions, it was gold.

Star of the show was Farah Abdel-Aziz. She joined forces with colleague Yousra Helmy to win Women’s Doubles gold, beating Algeria’s Katia Kessaci and Islem Laid in the final (10-12, 11-5, 11-7, 7-11, 11-9); before in the early evening, overcoming her partner in the Women’s Singles final (7-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-3).

“My goal was to win but Dina Meshref was in the team. However, after she withdrew I thought I had good chance to win. It was very difficult when I was down two-one. We know each other very well , and she played very well. Finally I changed my tactics and my serve which helped me a lot. ” Farah Abdel-Aziz

Third place in the Women’s Singles event was secured by Lebanon’s Mariana Sahakian, she accounted for Katia Keccasi in the play-off contest (11-4, 4-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-8).

 Seamaster 17th Arab Cup
Photos: Ismail Mohamed Alfarsi

Seamaster 2017 Arab Cup Ahmed Ali Saleh Farah Abdel-Aziz