SF : ElShorbagy eases past Momen

Mohamed ElShorbagy beats Tarek Momen in straight games

[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Egy) 3-0 [3] Tarek Momen (Egy) 11-6, 11-3, 11-8 (42m)

The key of the match for me? the court conditions. Windy and a bit slippery.

It was windy, and I don’t mean a little breeze, it was VERY windy, much more than it had been for the whole week.

And Tarek is not a high percentage player. He is a VERY VERY HIGH percentage player. His attacks are to the millimetre, and the way he lobs them for them to die literally on the front wall, you CANNOT have the wind playing a part in the execution.

Also, one factor that was obvious to me: Mohamed was very nervous, and I mean VERY VERY nervous.

First rally he had a go at the crowd for walking on the side – he is right but when he does that, it means he is not settled at all, then at the start of the second he asked one of the little boys on the side of the court to be moved a bit further way (he apologised later to him actually Mash’Allah), then complained a bit later of the people moving… once again, he was right people were moving, but when he is calm, he doesn’t care that much…

Another thing stroke me as well. For the second match in a row, Mohamed plays at the pace he used to play 10 years ago, fast intense, hitting hard. Whereas recently, he had switched to a more mid pace, pretending he was “old, Fram!”

Tarek was very close in the first game, 3/3, 4/4, 6/6, but a tin at the point, and Mohamed didn’t let him score another point in the 11m game, 11/6.

In the 11m second game, an error from Tarek to start, and despite some really good rallies, it’s all about Mohamed 11/3, the wind not helping the Momenator, and the slippery court either, although, yes, court conditions are the same for all, but it depends also with the way you use the floor..

Finally, we got to see a bit of Tarek’s squash in the third, 3/0, 5/2, leading a couple points from that point on 6/4, 7/5 but caught up 7/7, slipping several time, not able to find his shots as I explained earlier, making in all 6 errors, giving away three strokes: Mohamed had only to win 2 points…

What surprised me was the explosion of emotion from Mohamed when he got to match ball. When I asked him why he just said: I would have hated to lose to Tarek.

Fair enough I guess.

Mohamed : The conditions were very tough for both of us. Every player has a condition that they don’t like, and I know that Tarek doesn’t really like the outdoor courts and it is fine. I don’t like certain other conditions, but I know these are his least favourite conditions.

I knew I had to start sharp, be aggressive and get a good lead in each game, which I definitely didn’t in the first. In both the first and the third, I had to fight my way back and to get off in three against a quality player like Tarek, in the semi-final of a major, is obviously an ideal scenario. I am really pleased.

Fast pace is my natural game, I always had it in me. Honestly, it wasn’t my plan today. I played it simply because I was nervous. The reason why I was nervous is it’s the semi final of a major.

Tarek and I are rivals and we haven’t played since Canary Wharf march 2020. When you don’t play your rivals for that long, you are going to be nervous. The same way Ali and I played in the World Series finals, we hadn’t played each other in ages, and I was nervous.

And honestly, we both didn’t play well today. He didn’t play well, I didn’t play well. But I think I played the biggest point better, and that’s what made the difference every game: he was leading in the first and the third, and he didn’t use that. But when he opened the door for me, I didn’t open it for him back.

And that’s those little differences that make the difference in big matches like that. And I was 2/0 up when he got me back in that third game. I definitely didn’t want to go for a 4th game as Tarek is the kind of player that gets better as the match goes on, I know that.

And when you are nervous, and you want to win 3/0, you have to find a way to win when you are nervous…. And that’s 100% what I did today.

It is my first time back here since 2016. I have probably won every other major in my career, but I haven’t been able to get my hands on this trophy. The top players always raise their game at the end of the tournament, so I will give it everything I can for the final tomorrow!