Bloomfield Hills, Mich. – There will be a new squash champion on
Saturday at the Motor City Open presented by the Suburban Collection.
Four former MCO champions came to Detroit this week hoping to become the
third two-time champion in the pro squash event’s 20 years. All of them
fell throughout the week though, as Diego Elias of Peru and Mohamed
Abouelghar of Egypt assured there would be a first-time MCO champion.
The fourth-seeded Elias and third-seeded Abouelghar will vie for the
title in a 6:30 p.m. match Saturday at the Birmingham Athletic Club.
Elias opened Friday’s semifinals with a dominating three-game victory
against top-seeded Marwan El Shorbagy of Egypt, 11-7, 11-4, 11-1,
knocking off the defending champion in 30 minutes.
“I was moving really well and I’m happy with how I played,” said Elias,
who has won four Professional Squash Association World Tour events. “I’m
looking forward to the finals.”
The opening game was the only competitive one, but Elias won four out of
the last five points, including a stroke awarded on game point after El
Shorbagy interfered with Elias.
“The first game was really important,” Elias said. “I got the lead and I
could finish the game. It was really mental, and I was mentally really
strong today and felt really good.”
The 22-year-old Peruvian sprinted to a 6-1 lead in Game #2 and charged
to an easy victory. El Shorbagy won the first point of the third game
before Elias took 11 straight to win, with El Shorbagy accepting his
fate and surrendering the last three.
“It just wasn’t my day,” said El Shorbagy, who said he did not suffer an
injury or illness. “He played very well today, of course, all credit to
him. I didn’t find my game today.”
The semifinal was a rematch of last week’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of
Champions in New York City, with Elias winning that one in four games.
The finals competitors have met a handful of times before with
Abouelghar winning each time.
In the nightcap, Abouelghar topped close friend and countryman Zahed Salem,
11-9, 6-11, 11-7, 11-9.
The match ended in controversy. With the score knotted at 9-all in the
fourth, the unseeded Salem thought an Abouelghar shot hit the tin. The
official said no, the 25-year-old Abouelghar won the point and shortly
after was on to the finals.
“It’s hard to play against a friend,” Abouelghar said. “I’m sure we’re
going to have many more battles in the future, I’m just happy I got
through this one. And hopefully next time we can have a great match
Salem had gotten off to fast starts in the match, winning the first
three points in the first game, going up 6-0 in his one victory in game
two, winning the first point in game three, and then taking a 3-0 lead
in the fourth.
Abouelghar said his strategy was to make points go long, as Salem was
playing his fourth match in as many days, while Abouelghar received a
bye to Wednesday’s second round.
“I knew he had tough matches and it was probably getting to him,”
Abouelghar said. “The way I dealt with it, I think was good. I didn’t
panic in the end.”
United States home
hopes Chris Hanson and Todd Harrity secured round one wins at the
Suburban Collection Motor City Open to book their places in the last 16
of the PSA Silver tournament, held in Detroit.
World No.63 Hanson secured a straight-games win over New Zealand’s World
No.42 Campbell Grayson to set up a round two clash against Egypt’s
former World No.3 Omar Mosaad at the Birmingham Athletic Club.
“The state of U.S. squash is getting better,” said Hanson following his
win. “At a tournament like this, where guys in the top 10 or 20 are
playing, we’re not quite there yet, but with some wins like this, we’ll
make it known that the Americans are making a push.
“I thought I was playing at a really good pace. Even when the games were
close, I felt like I could pick it up just a little more and a little
Hanson will be joined by compatriot and World No.48 Harrity in round two
after he defeated India’s World No.58 Vikram Malhotra by an 11-4, 11-4,
11-7 scoreline in 26 minutes.
Todd Harrity in round one
The United States No.1 will now take on Egypt’s World No.10 Mohamed
Abouelghar for a place in the quarter-finals.
“The first match is the toughest in a lot of ways,” Harrity said. “The
court, the crowd, the environment, it’s been awhile since your last
competition. So you’re always just a bit edgy.”
Elsewhere, Mexico’s Cesar Salazar and Spain’s Iker Pajares Bernabeu both
were forced to come through tough five-game battles to ensure their
places in round two. Salazar came from 2-1 down to defeated Wales’ Peter
Creed, while Bernabeu came from behind against England’s Chris Simpson
in a mammoth 97-minute battle.
Bernabeu in action against Simpson
Salazar will now face Peru’s Diego Elias in round two, while Bernabeu
will take on Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly.
Egyptians Zahed Salem and Mazen Hesham will take on number eight seed
Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller and top seed Marwan ElShorbagy,
respectively, in round two after they overcame Mohamed Reda and Richie
Fallows in round one.
While, there were also victories for England’s Adrian Waller, who
defeated India’s Mahesh Mangaonkar in straight-games and France’s
Mathieu Castagnet who saw off experienced Fin Olli Tuominen by an 11-7,
11-6, 11-5 margin.
They will now face Germany’s Raphael Kandra and number two seed Miguel
Rodriguez, respectively, for a place in the last eight of the