No.4 Tarek Momen has ended a four-year trophy drought after beating
fellow Egyptian Ali Farag 3-2 to win the Channel VAS Championships
at St George’s Hill, PSA World Tour Gold event held in Weybridge.
Momen had been in brilliant form throughout the tournament -
dispatching Cameron Pilley, Paul Coll and Diego Elias without
dropping a single game - and was up against the 2017 runner-up in
Momen was also a beaten finalist at this tournament, losing to Coll
in 2016, and he twice went a game behind against the World No.2
today, but fought back both times to force a decider as he played
some accurate, attacking squash.
The drama inside St George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club rose to a
crescendo in the fifth as Momen thought he had won it after playing
a winner while holding a championship ball. Farag questioned whether
the ball had clipped the tin, and Momen agreed to play a let to put
his title win on temporary hold.
But the 30-year-old held his nerve to close out the win on the very
next point as he completed an 8-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 11-9 victory
to capture the fifth PSA Tour trophy of his career, and his first
since the Macau Open in October 2014.
can’t believe it, it’s been four years since I won a title," said an
emotional Momen afterwards.
"It’s the biggest of my career and I’m really proud of this moment.
As for Ali, I have the utmost respect for him, he’s a really good
friend of mine. We’ve been away for a month and each of us has won a
title, so we should be fine going back home.
"Putting everything aside, I’m really happy with how I’ve progressed
mentally over the past year and a half. I used to give up when I was
really tired, now I’m much better at it. I can be exhausted, but I
can still push and find other plans."
Egyptian pair Ali Farag and Tarek Momen will line up against each
other in the final of the Channel VAS Championships at St George’s
Hill after respective wins over Karim Abdel Gawad and Diego Elias
earlier today in Weybridge.
No.2 Farag - who won the Oracle NetSuite Open two weeks ago -
advanced to his second PSA Tour final of the season after he
overcame former World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad by a 3-1 margin.
Gawad ran away with the opening game as he displayed some deft
touches and outrageous winners to prevent Farag from finding his
rhythm. But Farag took control in the second and third games and he
closed out a 7-11, 11-5, 11-2, 11-9 victory after edging Gawad in
“I watched his match yesterday [against Saurav Ghosal] and that was
by far the best that any player has performed this season,” said
“I could see Saurav was 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
“I needed to attack whenever I had an opportunity, but it was really
physically tiring and demanding. I had a game with Bassim [Haidar,
Founder, Chairman & CEO of Channel IT Group], the official sponsor,
yesterday and he made me ready for that one and sharpened me up.”
No.4 Momen will appear in the final of the PSA World Tour Gold event
for the second time after he claimed an emphatic straight games
victory against Peru’s World No.13 Diego Elias.
Momen avenged his 2016 final defeat to World No.8 Paul Coll in the
previous round, with a sublime display seeing him eliminate the Kiwi
without dropping a game.
And the 30-year-old looks like the man to beat in Weybridge this
year after an imperious display saw him dispatch Elias by a 15-13,
11-8, 11-4 scoreline.
“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,” said Momen
“I did quite a bit of running today, so I’m going to need some
recovery work done. 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.
“I’ve been in so many finals before where I’ve had extremely tough
3-2 matches back-to-back, they’ve affected the way I was playing in
the final and they hindered my performance. I was very cautious of
that, and I knew that if I wanted to do well in the final then I
would have to make the matches as short as possible."
Momen will look to win his first PSA Tour title since 2014 tomorrow
and will meet Farag for the fifth time on the PSA Tour. The
head-to-head record currently stands at two wins apiece, but Farag
won the last time they played, which was in April’s El Gouna
The duo will contest the Channel VAS Championships final at 17:00
A trio of Egyptian players will line up in the semi-finals of the
Channel VAS Championships at St George’s Hill as Ali Farag, Karim
Abdel Gawad and Tarek Momen all claimed victories on day four of the
PSA World Tour Gold event held in Weybridge.
No.2 Farag booked his place in the semi-finals here for a second
year running after he ended the run of home favourite Tom Richards.
Richards was backed to the hilt by a partizan crowd at St George’s
Hill Lawn Tennis Club, but Farag had too much for the Englishman
today as he closed out an 11-6, 11-7, 11-8 win to reach the last
Farag will go up against former World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad in
the semi-finals after Gawad put in a sensational performance to down
World No.11 Saurav Ghosal 3-0.
"Karim and I grew up playing in the same age group and we’ve played
around 40 or 50 times, plus the hundreds of times we’ve played
during practice," said Farag.
"We know each other’s games quite well. It’s always fair and clean
when you play with Gawad. It’s always fun when you go on court and
someone is going to play their heart out, but at the same time
they’re going to be very fair and clean.
"From a squash perspective, Karim showed us today that he’s back in
the kind of top form that took him to World Champion. He was very
sharp today, played really well and I will have to try as much as
possible to stop those attacks and to attack myself."
loss of form from Gawad over the past 18 months has seen the former
World No.1 tumble down the World Rankings, but his display against
Ghosal today evoked memories of the form he displayed in the early
part of 2017 as he hit a feast of winners en route to an 11-6, 11-7,
“Squash is beautiful when everything goes the way you want,” Gawad
“Unfortunately it doesn’t happen a lot, so you have to enjoy the day
everything goes into the nick and you can play a tight, basic game.
Saurav is one of the best shot-makers on tour, and in order to play
him today I had to make sure that I didn’t give him a lot of chances
because he was going to kill me in the front corners."
World No.3 Tarek Momen avenged his defeat in the 2016 final to World
No.8 Paul Coll, with a sublime display seeing the 30-year-old
triumph in straight games.
Coll’s momentous victory over the Egyptian here two years ago was
one of the key reasons behind his eventual ascent into the top 10,
and he also overcame Momen in a brutal 96-minute clash at the U.S.
Open last week. But Momen was irrepressible today as he controlled
his shots to perfection and proved very difficult for Coll to read.
“I used the same game plan that I put together for the U.S. Open, it
just worked a little bit better this time,” Momen said afterwards.
“In the U.S. Open, I thought I played the first three games really
well, and I was unlucky to lose the second. I just tried as much as
could not to give him that chance today. I'm very happy with how I
dealt with these conditions and was able to play my game."
Diego Elias was the only non-Egyptian to win on day four as he ended
the run of giant-killer Joel Makin to set up a semi-final match
Makin caused arguably the biggest upset in this tournament’s history
when he ended World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy’s title defence in the
previous round, and he tested Elias today as he took the opening
But Elias attacked well into all four corners off the court and he
came from behind to earn his place in the semi-finals courtesy of a
10-12, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9 victory after 79 minutes of intense squash.
“I knew it was going to be really tough, he beat ElShorbagy, the
World No.1, so I knew he was playing really well,” said Elias.
“I had a really good strategy against him. It didn’t work in the
first game, but then it started working and he got a bit tired, so
I’m happy with the way I played. I knew it was going to be a very
long match, so the first thing for me was to be patient.”
No.30 Tom Richards delighted spectators at St George’s Hill Lawn
Tennis Club as he upset former World No.3 Omar Mosaad to reach the
quarter-finals of the Channel VAS Championships, PSA World Tour Gold
event earlier today.
Richards, 32, has played at St George’s Hill since he was just two
years old and he claimed one of his biggest wins on the PSA Tour in
recent years with a fine comeback from a game down to win 10-12,
11-7, 13-11, 11-2.
“[The result] has been coming for a few years, I felt like I’ve been
playing well again over the last year and a half,” Richards said
“I’ve been close to getting a couple of scalps, but I felt really
good there. I was playing well and I feel fit and strong.
“It all comes down to that feeling when you win, that’s why you
spend so many hours in rehab, in the gym and work so hard. Touch
wood, I haven’t been injured for a year and a half now, and when I
came back I thought I could compete with the players at my level.
Now I feel that my base platform is good enough to compete with the
is rewarded with a last eight matchup against World No.2 Ali Farag,
who came through a tough encounter with World No.20 Declan James.
Harvard-graduate Farag reached the final here last year and he took
a step closer to the title decider after ousting James by a 13-11,
7-11, 11-7, 13-11 scoreline.
Farag, 26, was put under huge pressure by James for much of the
57-minute match and had to overturn a game ball in the opening game
before he went on to lose the second. But the momentum shifted back
in the Egyptian’s favour in the third and he refocused to sneak the
win in four games.
“Tonight’s match is a testament to Declan’s talent, he never ceased
to attack and I’m just happy to get through today,” Farag said.
“It’s never easy to back it up off the back of another tournament,
especially with serious jet lag, and especially when you get to play
a great player such as Declan. We’ve played twice before already,
but tonight is the best he ever played against me by far. He took it
to me, he was never passive and never let off for a second."
former World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad booked his place in the last
eight after he recovered from a game down to see off Scotland’s
World No.34 Greg Lobban by a 3-1 margin on his Channel VAS
Gawad made a traditionally slow start as Lobban, who had already
played on this court in round one, dominated the opener to go a game
up for the loss of just three points. But the Egyptian came onto
court a different man in the second as he found his range, and he
looked considerably quicker around court over the course of the next
“He made it very tough for me today and it’s always hard to play an
opponent twice in a week,” said Gawad, who beat Lobban at the U.S.
Open two weeks ago.
“I was trying to push myself in front a little bit. Luckily, I
played some nice killing shots and I managed to find a way to win
today, especially with him playing such great squash."
will line up against Indian No.1 Saurav Ghosal for a place in the
semi-finals. Ghosal booked his last eight berth courtesy of a 3-0
victory over France’s Mathieu Castagnet.
Ghosal, the 32-year-old from Kolkata, was making his first
appearance of the tournament after receiving a bye into round two,
while Castagnet had to fight through a brutal 103-minute battle
against compatriot Lucas Serme in the first round.
And Ghosal’s fresher legs made a big impact on the scoreline as he
recorded an 11-5, 11-7, 11-5 victory in 42 minutes.
"I just tried to stay strong and solid," said World No.11 Ghosal.
"I took it in short, I enjoyed the court and the game, and I tried
to implement the game plan we [coaches David Palmer and Malcolm
Willstrop] wanted. I worked with them both in the summer, first
David, then Malcolm for a month. Those two periods obviously helped,
and I’m focusing now on trying to implement what we worked on."
No.33 Joel Makin earned the biggest victory of his career to date
after he claimed a dramatic victory over World No.1 Mohamed
ElShorbagy earlier today in Weybridge to send the defending champion
out of the Channel VAS Championships at St George’s Hill.
ElShorbagy was coming off the back of a title win at the U.S. Open
last week, but the reigning World Champion was under pressure right
from the off as Makin combined his typically strong retrieval skills
with some fine touches at the front of the court.
After conceding the opener, ElShorbagy showed more of his usual
aggression as he came back from 9-4 down in the second to force a
tie-break, but it spilled over as he received a conduct stroke
against him after a disagreement with a refereeing decision, which
handed the game to Makin.
That moment proved pivotal as Makin doubled his lead and he fought
back from three game balls down in the third to complete the win by
a 12-10, 13-11, 12-10 scoreline.
“It’s massive [to beat ElShorbagy],” said Makin.
“I had a lot of belief and I knew exactly what I needed to do. I
really had to be disciplined and I didn’t think about his form, just
focused on the process.
“If I was going to get into the match, I had to switch it and keep
getting the height. I had to be positive and my short balls were
better today than they have been. I’ve been working on them for a
long time, but they came together. They were three really tight
Makin’s reward for his shock victory is a quarter-final meeting with
Peru’s Diego Elias after the World No.13 got the better of 2015
runner-up Daryl Selby, winning 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 in 40 minutes.
very happy to be here again, I haven’t started the season that well,
but now I’m feeling better on court,” Elias said.
“Daryl is a super strong player and I think I did a great job
beating him in three because it’s always hard. We played here last
year in the same round, I knew he wanted revenge but I think I
World No.8 Paul Coll booked his place in the quarter-finals courtesy
of a 3-0 victory over former World No.1 James Willstrop, with the
New Zealander avenging his Commonwealth Games defeat to the
Englishman in the process.
Coll, who shot to prominence by winning this tournament in 2016,
went down 3-0 to Willstrop in the final of the Commonwealth Games
singles event in April.
But he turned the tide this time around as he came from behind to
win a crucial second-game tie-break, before dominating the third to
close out the win in straight games.
“[The Commonwealth Games] is always in my mind, it’s one of my
ultimate goals in squash, but I’m trying to block that out for
another four years and trying not to dwell on that too much because
it can release some negative emotions," said U.S. Open semi-finalist
“It’s always on my mind, but it’s not what I’m thinking about at
all, maybe in four years when I need to light that fire again."
will play World No.4 Tarek Momen next in a repeat of the 2016 final,
with Momen edging Australia’s Cameron Pilley in a tight three-game
The Egyptian had a 9-3 lead on their head-to-head record coming into
the match and, while he was able to extend that lead, he was made to
work hard for it by the World No.23, who had only just made his
return to action after going through ankle surgery over the summer.
“I must say that I’m very glad to be through, it was one of those
where you have to be thankful that you got through because a lot of
things were not working,” Momen said afterwards.
“I was trying hard to get into my own rhythm and I couldn’t. He was
playing really well considering he had some time off in the summer
to have an ankle operation. It’s really good that he’s playing this
well with the preparation he’s had."
World No.1 James Willstrop led a trio of fellow Englishmen into the
second round of the Channel VAS Championships at St George’s Hill
after he beat Egypt’s Omar Abdel Meguid on day one of the PSA World
Tour Gold event taking place in Weybridge.
Willstrop, the 35-year-old from Harrogate, is making his return to
St George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club after missing out last year and he
was too clinical for his opponent today as he hit consistent length
and dropped well to record the win in straight games by an 11-9,
11-6, 11-5 scoreline.
"He fires the ball in, takes it short well and he has presence
around the middle, which as I mentioned in the first I thought it
could get us both into a bit of trouble," said World No.18 Willstrop.
"But we had a bit of a chat in the first game and everything was
perfect after that. We sorted it out and played pretty clean from
that point onwards.
"He's not easy to play, so I had to be ready and play well. Those
shots [Meguid was hitting], I didn't see a thing there, I'm not sure
what was going on, so I'll be getting my notebook out later to see
if I can get any tips."
Willstrop will clash with New Zealand’s World No.8 Paul Coll in the
next round. It will be their first meeting since Willstrop beat the
Kiwi in the men’s Commonwealth Games singles final on the Gold Coast
James, the second-highest ranked English male, will join his
compatriot in the last 16 after he got the better of fellow
Englishman Adrian Waller by a 3-2 margin after a 73-minute battle.
James beat Waller in a 101-minute epic two weeks ago at the U.S.
Open and he once again prevailed in an attritional affair, winning
9-11, 15-13, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5 to ensure that he will play last
year’s runner-up Ali Farag in round two.
"I can feel the pressure, I wanted to do well so badly," said World
"[Because of] the rise in the ranking, the fact I won my biggest
tournament [the Open International de Nantes in September], plus the
U.S. [Open] match we just played was tense and controversial at
times. We are from the same country, we are team mates, and we both
wanted to win very badly. "
World No.21 Daryl Selby and home favourite Tom Richards were the
other Englishmen to claim wins on the opening day, with Selby
defeating close friend Ben Coleman, while Richards overcame Spain’s
former World No.5 Borja Golan.
longest match of the day saw French duo Mathieu Castagnet and Lucas
Serme play out a brutal 103-minute fixture. Castagnet came into the
match boasting a five-match unbeaten run against Serme, but he
looked spent after squandering four match balls in the fourth to
send the match into a decider.
But a herculean effort from World No.26 Castagnet saw him edge his
fellow Frenchman to record an 12-10, 5-11, 11-7, 12-14, 11-9 victory
which will see him play Indian No.1 Saurav Ghosal in the next round.
"It was amazing to play over an hour and a half against Lucas,"
"He’s such a great guy with a really nice attitude on court and he’s
really fair. I would like to see more matches like that. This sport
is such a difficult game and we showed you today how hard it is to
be on the court. Even if I lost today against Lucas it wouldn’t
matter, the most important thing is it was such a great match."
Meanwhile, Australia’s Cameron Pilley claimed his first win on the
PSA Tour since undergoing ankle surgery after he downed England’s
Chris Simpson in straight games to set up a round two fixture with
2016 runner-up Tarek Momen.
very happy with my performance," Pilley said.
"I had my ankle surgery at the end of June and although it's
[recovery] ahead of schedule, I'm so impatient and I just want to be
back to full fitness as soon as I can. There's been zero off-season
training, so my focus has been on improving my shot selection and
improving the quality of my shots. That's been my whole focus for
the last month."
Elsewhere, tournament wildcard Charlie Lee saw his tournament come
to an end at the hands of Scotland’s Greg Lobban, while Welshman
Joel Makin scored an upset win over World No.19 Raphael Kandra.
The second round of the Channel VAS Championships begins tomorrow
(Wednesday October 17) at 17:30 local time (BST) as the top eight
seeds - including World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy, World No.2 Farag
and 2016 champion Paul Coll - begin their tournaments.
All eyes will be on Weybridge between October 16-21 as World No.1
Mohamed ElShorbagy returns to defend his title at the Channel VAS
Championships at St George’s Hill.
Held at the St George’s Hill Lawn and Tennis Club, the PSA World
Tour Gold tournament features 12 of the world’s top 20 players and
ElShorbagy tops the entry list as he looks to claim this title for
the second year running.
The 27-year-old Egyptian beat World No.2 Ali Farag in last year’s
final as he lifted eight PSA World Tour titles during a dominant
season for ‘The Beast of Alexandria’.
ElShorbagy has showed no signs of slowing down this season either
after lifting his first title of the new campaign just last week at
the FS Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships in Philadelphia.
The reigning World Champion is seeded to meet Farag in the final
once again, and the two met earlier this month in the Oracle
NetSuite Open title decider, in which Farag prevailed.
Farag, the 26-year-old Harvard-graduate, also reached the
semi-finals in Philadelphia and he will be among the title
challengers in Weybridge if he can make it past the likes of 2015
World Championship runner-up Omar Mosaad and 2016 World Champion
Karim Abdel Gawad, both of whom are featured on his side of the
Meanwhile, World No.8 Paul Coll will also appear in Weybridge two
years after he broke through at this tournament to win the title.
The New Zealander battled through qualification before going on to
lift the trophy and has started this season strongly.
26-year-old Coll reached the final of the J.P. Morgan China Open
last month and also made it through to a first PSA World Tour
Platinum semi-final last week at the U.S. Open, but his tournament
came to an end at the hands of ElShorbagy.
Coll is drawn on the same side of the draw as ElShorbagy, but in
order to set up a rematch with the World No.1, he may need to
overcome World No.3 Tarek Momen, who he beat both in the 2016 final
and last week in Philadelphia.
Peru’s Diego Elias and India’s Saurav Ghosal also feature and will
be dark horses for the title, while an eight-strong English
contingent – headed by former World No.1 James Willstrop – will also
line up in Weybridge.
All of the action from the tournament will be shown live on SQUASHTV
(Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only), while squash
fans can watch the action in person by purchasing tickets from
All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to children’s charity
CLIC Sargent, who offer cancer support for young people.
Main Draw – 2018 Channel VAS Championships at St George’s Hill  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) [bye]
Joel Makin (WAL) v [9/16] Raphael Kandra (GER)
[9/16] Daryl Selby (ENG) v Ben Coleman (ENG)
 Diego Elias (PER) [bye]
 Paul Coll (NZL) [bye]
Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) v [9/16] James Willstrop (ENG)
[9/16] Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Chris Simpson (ENG)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) [bye]
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) [bye]
[WC] Charlie Lee (ENG) v [9/16] Greg Lobban (SCO)
[9/16] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v Lucas Serme (FRA)
 Saurav Ghosal (IND) v [bye]
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) [bye]
Tom Richards (ENG) v [9/16] Borja Golan (ESP)
[9/16] Declan James (ENG) v Adrian Waller (ENG)
 Ali Farag (EGY) [bye]