Momen & Farag set up all-Eyptian final
The channel VAS final will be an all-Egyptian affair for te second year in a row after Tarek Momen and Ali Farag won today’s semi-finals at St George’s Hill.
Momen, finalist two years ago, continued his run of three-nil wins as he beat Diego Elias, avenging his loss to the young Peruvian here last year.
Farag looked to have a tough task against Karim Abdel Gawad, who had shown exceptional form so far, but fought back after losing the first to reach the final for the second year in a row.
 Tarek Momen (Egy) 3-0  Diego Elias (Per) 15-13, 11-8, 11-4 (47m)
 Ali Farag (Egy) 3-1  Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 7-11, 11-5, 11-2, 11-9 (63m)
Read on for reports and more …
Tarek picks up where he left off
SF:  Tarek Momen (Egy) 3-0  Diego Elias (Per) 15-13, 11-8, 11-4 (47m)
It was another great day for the WR4 Egyptian Tarek Momen today. He was up for Diego’s scalp today, in view to avenge his only loss out of 5 encounters, which occurred on this same court last year.
To be fair, and all respect to Diego, Tarek contracted food poisoning from pastas at the hotel last year, and we spend the day after that quarter final match trying to find a doctor to come to the hotel to sort him out (in vain actually).
This year, Tarek was pretty much ready to stay on court as long as it took to get to the final, and try and beat whoever Egyptian he’ll have to play to go one step further than he did in 2016, when he lost against Paul Coll in the final.
Diego didn’t have much pressure today, but somehow, I found him a bit passive to start with. His shots were lacking purpose and weight, and Tarek loved them! 4/0, 7/3, 8/4 before the Peruvian started to get more offensive and positive, clawing back to 9/9.
After reassessing his pace and tactic, the young man got a game ball, but it’s Tarek, despite making 6 unforced errors in that opener alone, that managed to close it down 15/13 in 20 long minutes.
Diego was not defeated at all. He came back playing faster, deeper, more accurately at the back, and finding some delicate and lethal counterdrops that really got Tarek’s quads to work!
But yet again, the Egyptian led comfortable, 6/3, 7/4, only to see his young opponent coming back very close. Diego looked tired and running of fumes. “He really need that one “ I thought, and at 8/9, it was still all possible for the Peruvian. But it wasn’t to be and it’s the Egyptian that took that crucial game 15m, 11/8.
The body language of Diego was unfortunately very clear when he came back – if Nick Matthew had been his coach, he would have had a word about that – and Tarek just had to keep him doing the runs. Even if Diego didn’t stop trying, he mentally really needed that second game, and he just never was able to have any incidence on that third, 7/2, 11/4 for Tarek in 4m…
He’s a very tough opponent and if you give him an inch he has so many varieties of shots, he can make me move a lot. I did quite a bit of running today, so I’m going to need some recovery work done.
At the end of the second, when he was into my shots, I started lobbing to try and mixed my shots, to add variety and confusion in the game, exposing his movement as well.
I always like to use my movement, it’s my weapon and it’s key when combined with some of my shots. When those things are in place then it’s going to be a good day for me.
I think there are so many factors to anticipation. It could be talent or it could be experience, I’ve been playing for 25 years now, it’s been a while. I’m 30 now and approaching 31, so by now I should be able to anticipate a few shots here and there.
I’ve been in so many finals before where I’ve had extremely tough 3-2 matches back-to-back and they’ve effected the way I was playing in the final and they hindered my performance. I’m not going to win every time, but I will always push as hard as I can to get the wins. Today’s match was very tough and I’m very happy to actually close it out in three games.
I was very cautious of that and I knew that if I wanted to well in the final then I would have to make the matches as short as possible. Against such great players, it’s so hard to to control that, but you have to kill yourself on court and try to make the most out of it. If it works in your favour then that’s great, if not then you have to deal with the conditions somehow.
The quality of the game was so high and I’m very pleased with the way it turned out. I’m also very happy for the audience to be entertained the way they have been this week.
Farag returns to the Final
SF:  Ali Farag (Egy) 3-1  Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 7-11, 11-5, 11-2, 11-9 (63m)
“It takes a while to actually keep the mental focus the whole match” confessed Gawad at the end of the match.
For me, that’s the key of the match.
First game, the former World Champ had a good start, getting a bit of wobbliness in Ali’s legs, and forcing a few errors out of him, although he made errors himself: out of the 10 first points, 7 were unforced errors!
From 4/4, Gawad is looking very good, light on his feet, and changing angles beautifully. I find myself watching the Gawad we all admired in the 2016, and at 8/4, he is looking the likely winner for me – I’m thinking he might be hungrier than Ali at the moment. Some lovely extremely fast rallies, panache, champagne and all, and it’s the first game for Gawad, 11/7, in 19m.
But the champagne quickly gets flat for Gawad. Playing at that level of squash for 20m, well, you cannot reproduce it in training. And basically, he doesn’t have much left in the legs for the next 2 games, courtesy of Ali that made sure he wouldn’t get back into it, making the court extremely wide…
Two games going fast, 8 and 9m, 11/5, 11/2. But the Champagne gets all bubbly again in the 4th, as Kimo gets his second wind as Ali gets a bit tired himself: at 3/3, Karim was yet to make a winner, it was all unforced errors from his opponent.
The rest of the game is pretty close, and stunning of pace, angle, variation of height and weight, and some superb counterdrops/counterattacks from both. You beauty, would have commented Pat Nicol, Peter’s dad…
As ever it’s fine line, and at 9/8, Karim makes us feel we are in for a decider. But a gruelling rally ending with a tin, the a superb drive that glues to the side wall, and a no let on match ball, and it’s all over: Ali reaches his second final in two years, closing down the 21m fourth game, in 21m…
I’ve always loved the sport of squash and I grew up watching it. If you look at any die-hard fan here, no matter how much they love squash, I’m a bigger fan than they are. I’ve always been a big fan, I still am, and I would like to do whatever I can to help the sport. When I was approached by Alex Gough and Lee Beachill this year and the players pushed me to do, I decided to accept the PSA President role.
It’s a bit of work, I have to do stuff but I think that the PSA calendar is looking healthier than ever now and I hope we keep progressing in the right direction.
The great thing is that I’m not alone, Jenny Duncalf is taking care of the women’s tour and we have an athlete’s commission which is formed of eight different players, four men and four women to promote each gender. All four of us are in different ranking groups and we’re in different places geographically, so whenever you have a problem you would go to the player either in your ranking group or geographical area for help. We have a group on WhatsApp and we always discuss things. Whenever Jenny and I have a board meeting we convey those messages and we always try to help.
I watched Gawad’s match yesterday and that was by far the best that any player has performed this season. I could see Saurav playing really well, but Gawad was on fire and I was prepared for this. I knew that I would have to do a lot of running and would need to stay as tight as possible to stop his attacks.
Gawad was as sharp to the front he was in 2016, even sharper. So I had to keep him away from volleying as much as possible, and for that, I had to keep it straight, and if I had to crosscourt, make it as wide as possible.
Today, I needed to attack myself whenever I had an opportunity, but it was really physically tiring and demanding. Still, I think today was the sharpest to the front of the court I have been, not for the whole season, but since San Francisco for sure.
I am extremely hungry. This season, I have one objective, and one objective only, becoming world number 1. I may not reach my goal, but it won’t be because I haven’t tried enough, I will give it my 110% for sure.
Tarek is yet to lose a game, he’s been playing extremely well all season, and it’s not like he played easy players, he had three of the toughest you can find on the tour! One thing is sure, I’ll have a lot of running to do and to try and contain that, I’ll have to keep it extremely tight.