Mazen Hesham reflects on his breakthrough 2022/23 season on the PSA World Tour

July 11 2023

Mazen Hesham had a breakthrough season on the PSA World Tour, leaving his injury troubles behind and making a significant impact. After a seven-year title drought, he clinched a long-awaited victory, reached the quarter-finals of the PSA World Championship for the first time, and achieved a career-best ranking of World No.7.

In an exclusive interview with the Professional Squash Assocaition (PSA), Hesham reflected on his successful season as well as acknowledging the challenges he faced due to his previous injury. He expressed gratitude for being able to play and highlighted the steady progress he made every few months, emphasising his improved movement and focus on the game rather than his physical condition. Despite a few matches that didn't go his way, Mazen accepted the ups and downs as an inherent part of the sport and showed a determination to cope with any situation that arises.

Hesham attributed his improved performance to his increased fitness, gained through rehabilitation rather than intense training. He acknowledged the criticisms directed at his game, such as lacking patience and mental strength, but explained that people couldn't truly understand the behind-the-scenes struggles he faced. He now felt more patient, able to endure more, and focused on constructing longer rallies with fewer extravagant shots.

Looking ahead, Hesham expressed his desire to have a proper off-season, something he hadn't experienced in nine years. He considered it crucial for his future success. Reflecting on his victory over Ali Farag at the PSA Optasia Championships in Wimbledon, England, Mazen found it mentally uplifting but acknowledged that he couldn't carry that momentum forward as he lost the next day. However, he recognised the match as a breakthrough moment that bolstered his confidence and motivated him to push further.

When asked about his on-court battles with Mostafa Asal, Hesham claimed he had remained focused on his own game throughout the season. Despite the controversies surrounding their matches and Asal's ban, Hesham clarified that he had never lodged a complaint against him. He acknowledged Asal's talent but hinted at the complexities beyond the squash court that affected their matches. Despite the difficulties, Hesham acknowledged his own progress in dealing with such situations and expressed his hope for a positive future for Asal.

Reflecting on his PSA World Championship quarter-final against Asal, in which he squandered a 9-5 lead, Hesham acknowledged his disappointment in not capitalising on his opportunities. However, he praised his movement, concentration, and uncharacteristic focus during the match. He remained optimistic about future encounters and aimed to improve his performance in similar pressure situations.

Highlighting his standout performances of the season, Hesham pointed to his match against Karim Abdel Gawad at the British Open, where he fought back from a game down to secure victory. He also mentioned his match against Ali Farag at the Optasia Championships as another notable performance. Hesham believed his best was yet to come and hoped to make his mark on more prestigious tournaments in the future.

When asked about his goals for the next season, Hesham expressed his desire to continually improve, secure more wins, and claim titles. He emphasised the importance of winning tournaments to enhance his reputation and increase his ranking. While a top-four finish with or without titles would be satisfying, Hesham remained focused on his own progress and the journey ahead.

Recalling his triumphant comeback from a 0-2 deficit to defeat Tarek Momen in the Malaysian Open final, Hesham described it as a significant achievement after years without a tournament win. He highlighted the mental test he faced, having encountered delays reaching the venue due to a soccer match. Overcoming these obstacles, he showcased his mental fortitude and viewed the victory as a confidence booster for future challenges, including his aspiration to win higher-tier Golds and Platinums events, as well as the PSA World Championship.

Addressing his unique style of play, Hesham firmly stated that he wouldn't change it for anything. He embraced his creative and entertaining approach to the game, emphasising his desire to enjoy himself on the court while still aiming to secure titles and be remembered as a winner.

In summary, Mazen Hesham's breakthrough season marked his return from injury, culminating in a long-awaited tournament victory, a historic World Championship quarter-final appearance, and a career-best world ranking. His focus on improving his physical condition, mental strength, and overall game has yielded positive results. With his sights set on winning more titles and achieving higher rankings, Hesham remains determined and optimistic about his future in professional squash.

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