Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-2 Joel Makin (WAL) 7-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-4 (76m)
Who is 35 years old and decides at 2/0 down after 30 minutes of play that he can take on one of the two fittest players on Tour, who happens to be 7 years younger. Who in their right mind thinks, yeah, it means staying 80m+ on court, I can do that.
It was a game of three halves.
First half: Joel in complete control, Tarek not in the match, making a lot of unforced errors, going for too much and maybe not even for the right shot. 11/7 in 11m.
Same in the second game. Yes, close score and all but I hear Raneem and Abdel Aziz going (phonetically, sorry I don’t write Arabic) duse, duse, enshef, which I would translate by “dig in”, “focus or concentrate”. From the first rally of the match. Which led me to believe that Tarek was not feeling that great physically.
4 errors for the Momenator, a lot of very hard rallies though, whichmight have damaged Joel more than Tarek actually. A few uncharacteristic errors are coming from the Welsh racquet. Close all the way, 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6, 7/8. But it’s Joel who closes the game, clenching his fist and eyes at the end of that game, 11/8, having work 20 long minutes to lead 2/0 – and probably in his head having won the match. At that time, it made sense.
But like I said in my opening paragraph, who is mad enough to say “right, a good match to win that one”. Tarek, WHO ELSE. Maybe Gawad??
A good start from Tarek in the third, 4/1. Quickly Joel levels, he doesn’t want a 4th. He has played 114m more squash than his opponent. That’s TWO HOURS PEOPLE. 4/4. 5/5. 6/6. Suddenly finding his pace, his rhythm, his patience, his positivity, the Egyptian is putting pressure on his opponent, sending him to the four corners, making him suffer terribly physically. 9/6, 11/7.
In 17m, Tarek won’t make a single mistake. That doesn’t happen often. He won’t make a single one in the next game either, 11/4, 8m. At the end of which Joel’s knuckles are being treated as they are pouring out blood. (right hand).
And the Golden Tiger is finally tired in the 5th. He never stops trying, diving all around the court to try and save points but Tarek is at ease, a puppet with a string. 3/0, 7/3, 11/4. 9m game. The crowd goes wild.
What a tournament from Joel. He’ll be disappointed with this match, but he shouldn’t be. What he accomplished during the week is going to make his mark, in the rankings and in his head. He proved he can beat anybody when his body is right. “Qu’on se le dise”.
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 6, 2023
“I have to say I really respect Joel so much. He’s one of the toughest players on tour and the way he kept pushing today… I know it’s not easy to do what he did and I don’t see many players like that. I always enjoy my matches against him, maybe a few years ago we had some feisty ones but ever since then we’ve played some great matches.
“It’s always fair, it’s always free-flowing and he gives it 100 per cent. Sometimes when I’m down and I’m tired, I look at him and see how hard he is fighting and I have to do that too. Today was a great day for me coming back from 2-0 down against a quality player like Joel.
“A few days before this tournament I wasn’t sure if I was going to play, I was struggling so much. I saved eight match balls yesterday and I came back from 2-0 down today, it’s unbelievable.
“Just want to thank Omar Abdel Aziz, my coach, and my wife, Raneem, for the constant support….