World No.2 Ali Farag was put under severe pressure by Frenchman Gregoire Marche but managed to come through to win 3-1 as he booked his last eight spot in Manchester.
Farag had won all five of their previous PSA World Tour fixtures and outclassed Marche in the opening game as he played some immaculate squash to win it 11-1.
Marche has often let his head go down following adversity in the past, but a mature performance from the World No.16 saw him come storming out of the traps in the second against a beleaguered Farag who couldn’t cope with the upswing in intensity from his opponent.
After levelling the scores at one game apiece, Marche continued to twist and turn the No.2, who had to rely on his incredible movement and retrieving abilities to stay in a number of high-octane rallies.
"That is just typical Ali Farag"
AliFarag</a> is just SO GOOD at retrieving balls that he has no right to get to!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SquashIsBack?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SquashIsBack</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MCROpen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MCROpen</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MCRactive?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MCRactive</a> <a href="https://t.co/9nhE1RZzmT">pic.twitter.com/9nhE1RZzmT</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) September 19, 2020
Some errors at the end of the game ultimately cost Marche a 2-1 lead as Farag restored his one-game advantage. There was some slight controversy in the fourth when, with the scores locked at 5-5, the referee incorrectly called Marche’s shot down.
A clearly distracted Farag continued the rally but was denied a let following Marche’s winner, with the referee saying that the Egyptian should have stopped immediately.
He looked rattled from that point onwards and dropped five of the next seven points to hand Marche three game balls. But the lower-ranked player couldn’t convert as two strokes and an error let Farag back into the match to complete the win.
Farag will play either No.6 seed Marwan ElShorbagy or England’s Adrian Waller for a spot in the semi-finals.
"It is a shame that there is no crowd here. I wish they were here to be as entertained as we were on court!"— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) September 19, 2020
AliFarag</a> gave us his reaction following a great encounter with Frenchman <a href="https://twitter.com/GregMarche?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">GregMarche #SquashIsBack #MCROpen #MCRactive pic.twitter.com/aK5ftGHFqT
“The ball was so quick and I realised that in the warm-up,” said Farag.
“I think I adapted to that better than Greg in the first game, he was overhitting a little bit and I found my rhythm. Too often when you’re playing well and you lose the momentum it’s so hard to to regain it again. I lost it in the second and he was playing very well and I was opening up the court a little too much for my own liking, to be honest.
“At the end of the second I knew that even if I didn’t win it I had to get momentum back and take it into the third. In the third I think I played okay but he went 3-0 up and then from that point on I tried to match him at his own game plan and grind it out. I didn’t think I would be able to play well again until I got some confidence and a lead.
“I’m happy to run away with that one, I think it was 8-8 at some point, so they were three crucial points at the end. Then in the fourth I don’t really remember what happened, but in that incident with the referee I shouldn’t have lost my composure. It didn’t affect my play but I wasn’t very happy with the decision.
“It’s a shame that there is no crowd to watch this. We draw off the energy of the crowd and I wish they were here to be as entertained as we were on court. We train for these kinds of matches and it’s always more pleasurable to have a crowd behind the glass.”
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-1: 11-1, 7-11, 11-8, 12-10 (56m)