Tarek Momen (EGY) def Cameron Pilley (AUS) 8-11 11-6 11-5 10-12 11-7 (82-min)
29-year-old Tarek “The Viper” Momen and Cameron “Pistol” Pilley, who just turned 35, are very familiar with each other’s game. They’ve been battling it out for nearly 10-years now.
Cameron won their first clash at the Dayton Open in 2008. The Viper won their second meeting right here in Doha, in the 1st-Round of the 2008 Qatar Classic. Overall, they’ve played 10-times. Tarek has won seven of those matches, most recently two-weeks-ago in Round-1 of the St. George’s Hill Classic.
This one became their most exciting showdown, with plenty of drama and plot twists to keep fans on the edge of their seats. For the first time, Cameron and Tarek played a decider, in a fantastic match that lasted 82-minutes.
Pistol’s tough start to the new season
Pilley now owns 13 PSA Tour titles in 29 career finals, and has broken his own speed record twice – smashing squash balls at speeds up to 177-mph. Before the season started, he won his first World Doubles Title with partner Ryan Cuskelly; but good fortune didn’t follow him to Philadelphia. Pilley drew Mohamed ElShorbagy for his first match of the new season at the US Open. He fell in three. After winning two qualifiers at St. George’s Hill, Tarek Momen eliminated him in Round-1. It was time for redemption.
Cameron’s Qatar Classic began with a 4-game victory over Qualifier Adrian Waller in yesterday’s first match.
Tarek Momen. Consistency defined
Tarek owns 4 PSA Tour titles – his last coming three years ago in Macau. A consistent Quarterfinalist, he’s kept his ranking inside the top-15 for 61 consecutive months. That makes all the difference in maintaining one’s match and recovery routine, avoiding the additional endurance needed to qualify for main draws. Last season, his consistency earned him three Finals appearances. In February, he won the Cambridge Cup, defeating Gregory Gaultier to reach the championship match.
This is Tarek’s 10th Qatar Classic. Doha’s glass court is where he earned the biggest win of his career, defeating World #1 Nick Matthew in the Round of 16 at the 2011 Qatar Classic. It was the first time he and Matthew had ever played, and his Quarterfinal run that year annually fuels his confidence when he touches down in Doha.
Tarek’s 1st-Round win eliminated fellow Egyptian Mohamed Abouelghar, in a tightly-contested, 4-game clash featuring high-quality squash.
Momen vs. Pilley. Thrilling plot twists. Epic match
Game-1 set the table for the true thriller of 2017’s Qatar Classic Round of 16. After a back-and-forth push to 3-all, Pilley gained the early edge 7-3. Momen then won 5-straight to take the lead. Pistol answered with four consecutive points of his own to win the game in 12-minutes. This was two big kids – each with talent and composure – showing the rest of the playground how to buck each other off the seesaw.
Game-2 went 12-minutes, as well. Tarek leveled the match by taking the early lead, posting nine winners, and never looking back. The Viper delivered a similar run in game-3, and was one win away from the Qatar Classic Quarterfinals – a stage of the tournament he hadn’t reached since his victory over Nick Matthew 6-years prior.
Again in the fourth, Pistol spent the entire game in the rear-view. Remarkably, down 8-10, he saved two match balls, won four successive points, and extended the match with a 12-10 tiebreak win. CLUTCH.
Cameron carried that momentum into the decider. The Aussie was up 5-2, then 7-4, before Momen made his run, winning seven straight points to seal the victory. Incredible finish from the Egyptian. After the match, Tarek said: Halfway through the fifth I thought he had me but I decided not to give up. Until the very last point I tried to make sure I didn’t give anything away and make it as hard as possible for him to win… (FULL MATCH RECAP)
Tarek Momen: I think it was a good match but I wasn’t as sharp as yesterday and it cost me the first game. In the fourth I had a strong lead and was disappointed to lose that and that can get into your head, past experiences…but I’m very glad with how I blocked that out, went for less risky shots while still being as aggressive as possible. It worked – I don’t know how but it worked.
Indeed it did. Now Momen could get another shot at Nick Matthew in Doha, back in the Qatar Classic Quarters for the first time in six years.