Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-2 Fares Dessouky (EGY) 11-8, 9-11, 2-11, 17-15, 13-11 (89m)
Yes, to start with, it’s not 6 match balls. Nor 7. It’s 8. 7 in the 4th game, and one in the 5th.
I’ve known those two for a long time. And I know their qualities, their strength and their weaknesses. And I can tell you something. Whenever Tarek plays Fares, he’s got all his hair up – picture a cat in front of a dog. Zoooom. He has the certitude Fares will be in his way, or trying to put him out of balance on his way to the ball. Whether Fares does it, or doesn’t, or not intentionally, that’s beside the point. Tarek is on the warpath from the minute he steps on court with him. And my feel is that Fares is on the same mode….
So, there you go. Nearly every time, it becomes ugly. Sometimes, very ugly. As it was today. Mind you, there was some astonishing squash, incredible pace, inventive combination and sublime reflexes, but drown into so many calls, lets, stroke, arguments, he did, he didn’t, did he?
Today, first game was pretty balanced – a few calls immediately, that put us in the mood for the rest, but at 7/7, Fares did a movement that damaged in right internal oblique. At the end of the 14m game, he received treatment from the physio, who advised him to stop immediately to prevent any more damage.
Passant outre – ignoring the advice of the PSA physio, drained face, and moving a bit like a billboard – all straight from the top half – Fares was struggling, but still fighting. As often in those cases, it’s the opponent who loses focus, and it’s exactly what happened at the start, Tarek stringing along the errors, 5/2 Fares.
5/5, 7/7, 8/8, 9/9. A no let against Tarek, and a stroke for Fares – confirmed by the video ref, it’s 11/9 in 15m. In that game alone, Tarek gave away 7 points, Fares 3. As James Willstrop would say, ‘Squash is such a mental game it’s a joke”.
And that was going to be confirmed next game, Tarek just not showing up, 11/2 in 9m. Were we going to have a quick finish in 4 then? YOU WISH.
Followed a game that would deserve a report on its own. 27m. 7 match balls. 2 game balls. And a few controversial decisions along the way. Let’s only talk about the most crucial ones.
Tarek up 4/2, 4 points for Fares, who’ll keep the lead till match ball, 10/7. Saved as Fares shot is called not up.
At 10/8, hell got loose when Tarek’s shot finished quickly in the tin from his backhand. ‘I touched him, I touched him”, “NO HE DIDN’T, NO HE DIDN’T”. The ref receives a message from the video ref “there is evidence that there was contact, stroke to Momen”. That didn’t go well. Neither with Fares, nor with his coach Ahmed Effat, who was on the verge of explosion from that point on… Emotions, emotions.
Of course, that’s the moment Tarek chooses to serve an ace. More discussion in Arabic. 10/10, no let against Fares, first game ball for Tarek, a sublime boast from Fares.
12/11, Match ball. 13/12, Match ball. A shot from Fares ends in the tin, who shouts “HE TOUCHED ME, HE TOUCHED ME”. Video review decision, no let. Ahmed Effat hits the roof, Fares is livid. Discussion.
He’ll make his second error of the match on his next match ball, 14/13, while Tarek will save the next one with a stroke. We are back at 15/15. Two winners from Tarek, short rallies, and it’s finally 17/15.
And we thought the drama was over. QUE NENNI.
Needless to say it took a few rallies to Fares to get his head in the match again. Tarek up 4/1. Back level 4/4. 5/5. 6/6. 7/7. 8/8. 9/9. A beautiful trickle boast from Tarek, his first match ball, 10/9, a no let by the Video Ref. 10/10.
A winner from Fares, and he gets his 8th (and last) match ball, 11/10. An incredible rally, a backhand drive from Tarek that clings to the sidewall, 11/11. Fares is wrongfooted.
12/11, second match ball for Tarek. It’s THE one. 13/11.
Fares is fuming, for him, he won the match in the 4th at 10/8. “I touched something” confirmed Tarek in his aftermatch live interview…………………………………..
“I’m definitely proud of the effort I put in. I don’t think I played the best squash match of my career but it was very difficult. He was struggling with his movement at the start of the match and it confused me a little bit as to how I should approach the game. His back started to loosen up and he started to move much better and I was struggling to get into it
“I don’t think I played the best squash but I’m very proud of the effort and the way I dug in. I’ve been struggling physically for the past six or seven months and I’m only just starting to get back to the level that I used to be at.
“I’ve got to say, I’m quite disappointed with what happened towards the end of the match. Fares is a good friend of mine but he was a bit disrespectful to me towards the end. I’m sure it was in the heat of the moment and I’m sure in an hour or so he’ll realise he was very disrespectful to me.
“I’m sure we will sort it out, but for now I’m disappointed. If he is upset with anything I’ve done, I apologise in advance. I think he’s upset that I may have taken a point that I didn’t deserve, I thought I hit him, I definitely hit something and the ball went to the floor.
“I tried to watch it on the video, I saw some contact but not that well. I could not dispute the decision, I was given a stroke and the video ref saw that I hit something. I hope he watches it back and realises that he needed to treat me a bit better than this.
“At the end of the day, I’m happy with the match. It’s a good win for me, I haven’t had many good wins in the past few months, so I’ll take it, I’m very happy.”