Momen dumps reigning champion
Tarek Momen stormed back to knock out defending champion Diego Elias in the Qatar Classic at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.
Elias, who defeated World No.2 Paul Coll last year to lift the Qatar Classic title, was undone by a fightback from the 34-year-old who battled back from 2-1 down to progress to the last four.
The Peruvian Puma clawed his way back into the first game after a bright start from Momen, but the Egyptian re-established his assertiveness to take a 1-0 lead.
Elias drew level in the next game, and the reigning champion was beginning to find his groove as he raced into an early advantage in game three to eventually go on to nudge ahead 2-1.
But Momen, who easily dispatched his countryman Yahya Elnawasany yesterday, roared back as he sent Elias chasing round the court with some excellent shots before forcing the match into a decider.
In the final game, costly errors from Elias paid dividends for Momen, who capitalised to go on to take the match and earn a last four spot.
“I don’t know what to say, other than I’m really proud of how I fought back – especially after the third game – because I gave it everything and then I really started to feel it,” said Momen afterwards.
“I felt really tired and I knew that wasn’t it. That’s not me, I don’t get tired after three games and don’t fight back. I told myself between games, ‘even if you can’t walk, you need to fight until the last point.’”
In the semi-final, Momen meets Victor Crouin, who clinched his first-ever Platinum last four place after overpowering Abdulla Al Tamimi.
Al Tamimi, on home court, had stolen the headlines all week after he first dumped No.2 seed Coll out in round two before earning his first quarter-final appearance at a Platinum event with a win over England’s George Parker.
However, it was Crouin who came out on top, edging a tightly-contested first game 13-11 and, despite a fightback from Al Tamimi in the second, the Frenchman kept his composure to extinguish hopes of Qatar’s No.1 claiming a semi-final berth by comfortably winning the remaining two games.
“I feel like I came in really strong and used that momentum for the rest of the match,” Crouin said.
“If you’re not disciplined against Abdulla and try to play the way he plays, he’s going to beat you. I had to use my strength and aggressiveness that I used in the first four rallies of the match where I just went for shots.
“It’s all about finding the balance and I’m really enjoying myself on court, hitting the right shots at the right times and pushing through every rally and I’m so glad I don’t have to think about everything around the match. I can just enjoy playing and that helps bring my game to the next level.”
In the other half of the draw, Mostafa Asal made it successive semi-final appearances in this competition as he overcame No. 8 seed Marwan ElShorbagy.
After taking an entertaining opening game 11-6, Asal dropped his first game of the tournament when ElShorbagy came out firing confidently to level the scores with an 11-7 win.
While Asal had appeared to have struggled with an injury to his ankle in the second game, he shook this off in a bad-tempered stop-start third game which saw a conduct stroke for dissent awarded against ElShorbagy before Asal reclaimed the lead with an 11-4 win.
In the third game, ElShorbagy struggled to regain the composure that had delivered him the second, with the now dominant Asal easing to an 11-2 win to set up a semi-final against Marwan’s brother, Mohamed.
“It was a tough match, I have all the respect for Marwan. We’re friends off court but sometimes it can get a bit messy when you’re playing, but all the respect to him,” said Asal afterwards on court.
“I’m happy to be through and thanks to the crowd for today. It was a difficult match but a full crowd which I’m really happy to see.”
Asal will meet England’s Mohamed ElShorbagy, who secured his first Qatar Classic semi-final in five years with a clinical display against Miguel Rodriguez.
World No.17 Rodriguez produced a fantastic performance to beat World No.1 Ali Farag in round three, but was unable to consistently lay a glove on ElShorbagy, who is chasing his fourth title in Qatar.
The first game was initially even at 6-6, with ‘the Beast’ changing his usual tactic and taking the pace out of the contest. The 31-year-old then found great accuracy at the front as he raced clear to take the first game 11-6.
The World No.5 pressed his advantage in the second game and took a commanding 2-0 lead with an 11-4 win, before closing out the match with a controlled 11-7 win in the third.
“Miguel is a class act,” said ElShorbagy.
“What he did against Ali is unbelievable at his age. To fight that way for 90 minutes with the World No.1! You’re not going to beat the World No.1 unless you do something special, no matter what. So, respect to him. I could see from the first point he was trying to get the ball warm and I was trying to keep him down as much as I can.”
Quarter-Final:  Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) bt Miguel Rodriguez (COL) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-7 (32m);  Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 7-11, 11-4, 11-2 (54m);  Tarek Momen (EGY) bt  Diego Elias (PER) 3-2: 11-8, 9-11, 4-11, 11-9, 11-7 (69m); Victor Crouin (FRA) bt Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-0: 13-11, 11-6, 11-7 (40m)