Day 5. Semifinals. Tarek Momen

Andy Taylor. Sports Host. Qatar Classic Squash Championship. Day 5. Semifinals. Tarek Momen

Sports Host. Andy Taylor. Qatar Classic 2017

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[8] Tarek Momen (EGY) def Simon Rösner (GER) 11-9 11-5 11-7 (40-min)

Simon Rösner and Tarek Momen are both 29-years-old. Simon turns 30 on Sunday. As scrappy 18-year-olds, they first played in the Quarterfinals of the 2006 World Junior Championship, where Momen won in four. Since their first professional meeting in 2012, Simon has won three of their five career matches – including the 2014 Final at the Edmonton Open. Tarek Momen won their most recent 91-minute, deciding-game thriller in the Semifinals of the 2016 Swedish Open.

Rösner owns 8 PSA Tour titles, Momen’s captured 4. Both have competed in 15 career Finals.

Simon Rösner’s career-best run in Doha

Yesterday, Simon defeated Marwan ElShorbagy to reach his first career World Series Semifinal. After the match, he told fans the victory was his crowning achievement:

    This has to be the biggest achievement of my life. It’s the first time ever I’ve reached a World Series Semis. This has to be the happiest day of my life, although I beat Karim yesterday (R16). After all those years spent on the tour, getting to my first World Series Semis at 29 is just the best day of my life.
Simon Rösner’s Road to the Semifinals
The German Tree Chopper. Momentum Continued

Simon Rösner is the most successful German in the history of the sport. He’s been ranked as high as World #6, and just before the new season began, captured World Games Gold. Last June, he finished in the top-8 in the PSA World Series standings for the 4th time, and tore through the draw at the World Series Finals in Dubai. He defeated one of the hottest players on tour Karim Abdel Gawad — then 3-time World Champion Nick Matthew — and reached the Semifinals for the first time. Clutch.

He stared this season with a Quarterfinal run at the China Open, made a Semifinal run in Macau, and played in his 20th career World Series Quarterfinal at the US Open. He arrived in Doha relaxed, focused and determined to improve on his ballooning accomplishments.

Finally, Tarek Momen is back in a World Series Semifinal

Tarek Momen has been in this position only once before. A little over 3-years-ago, he defeated – none other than – Simon Rösner to reach his first career World Series Semifinal at the 2014 Hong Kong Open. After his huge win over 3-time World Champion Nick Matthew in the Quarterfinals, Momen put the moment into perspective for us:

    I’m expecting a huge battle against Simon, I can’t believe we’re both playing in the semi-finals tomorrow. Simon has been trying to get to this stage for a long time and I’m happy for him because he has been working so hard and he has been very unfortunate a few times. For me, it’s back to the semi-finals after a three-year drought…maybe I’ll get through to my first ever World Series final.
Tarek Momen’s Road to the Semifinals
Tarek Momen. Consistency Defined

Tarek Momen’s last title came 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.

He’s insanely talented, remarkably fit, and dangerous when the planets align. Competing in his 10th Qatar Classic, it’s safe to say, this week the planets have cued up like soldiers.

At 29-years-old, Momen earns his first shot at a World Series title

Tarek Momen was unbeatable tonight.

Both played exemplary squash all week, but the German Tree Chopper didn’t have his paint brush for the Semi’s. Sincerely, Simon’s angular artistry had been exquisite all week, but Momen’s slower pace of play appeared to have an negative impact. The geometry just didn’t materialize during the 40-minute match.

Momen blasted out of the gate. In game-1, he was up 6-0 in no time. Rösner earned four quick points, Momen an additional two. They traded serve again before Simon won three straight to get it to 8-9. Momen then earned his first game ball, and won it on his second.

Tarek was even more locked-in for game-2. He shot ahead 9-0, rendering the game an afterthought. Rösner put five points on the board, but it was too little, too late. 30-minutes into the match, Tarek was a game away from the Final.

“You are the reason I am in the Final!”

Those were Tarek Momen’s words shortly after winning the third 11-7. The pro-Egyptian crowd in attendance was loud and ecstatic. The Semifinal tickets were worth it: Two Egyptians in the Final of the Qatar Classic Squash Championship 2017. (FULL MATCH RECAP)

An Emotional Victory

Tarek was endearingly authentic and emotional during the post-match interview on court:

    I didn’t think I would be this emotional, I shouldn’t be as I’m not over yet! It’s my first ever World Series finals, It’s been long over due…I think my breakthrough started at the end of last season. I’ve been playing well since January but have had a few unlucky draws – I faced Greg [Gaultier] seven times, and couldn’t get a win against him, only a match ball, then I lost! Overall I was playing well so I was hoping to carry it forward into this season. First two events I wasn’t in the zone mentally but I knew I wasn’t far off and finally it materialized this week and I’m so happy it has.

Honestly, the win was such a huge moment for Tarek, it felt like he’d won the title. He started thanking his team for their support and talking about the struggles he’d been through to reach this crowning achievement, his first career World Series Final:

    I’ve had a rough few years. Last three years killed myself training but something wasn’t clicking. When I got a good draw I’d mess it up. Haven’t been consistent enough. I was repeating the same cycle season after season and not getting that breakthrough was frustrating me. I always believed I had a chance, but when it doesn’t happen you can start to think it’s not going to happen. That’s why I need to thank a few people, my family, my parents, my wife at home, my sister Farah that was supporting me here in the crowd, my coaches Haitham Effat, my fitness coach Samir El Degwy, also Mohamed Abbas at the Gezira Club, and last but not least, Shabana who started again helping me and played a huge role today. Those people around me reinforced my self esteem and kept me believing in myself. Now here I am in a final at 29 and have 5, 6 good years ahead of me. I’m not old yet!
You know Mohamed ElShorbagy was watching

I’ve seen this movie before, just two months ago at the US Open Tennis Championships in New York. Kevin Anderson defeated Pablo Carreno Busta in the Semifinals to reach his first career Grand Slam Final, and he climbed up to his player’s box to celebrate. Like Tarek, he was emotional, thanked his team for all of their support through tough times…and went on to lose soundly to Rafael Nadal in the Championship match.

It’s understandable.

Achieving a career-first is a huge accomplishment and it’s human nature to feel the weight slip from one’s shoulders. But there’s still a match left to be played. Like Nadal, you know ElShorbagy was watching. Like Nadal, he’s a decorated veteran who’s been in this situation before, and knows all-too-well how to take advantage of an opponent’s…relief.
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