QF: Tarek 3-0 Diego

 [8] Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-0 [3] Diego Elias (PER)  11-6, 11-4, 11-5 (28m)

This was not a simple match, although the score could let you think it was.

We started at the glass court, but as the players got on court, the humidity just settled on the court, and it was like a fine water cover on there.

We delayed the match as long as possible, but as the players came back on court and after warming the ball up, it was decided – apparently by Diego, according to Tarek’s post match interview – to move the last match of the night back to the Complex.

Incredible organisation who got the players ready to play as our bus – with the Ref who I was stick to like glue! – got to the centre.

I had the sneaky feeling an upset could be on the card on that match. Glass court, conditions not too warm – compared to last year, where it was litterally an oven – and absolutely no pressure on Tarek. Playing home, with the support of his coach and wife, plus family members only too happy to support and cheer him up.

As for Diego, his mum and dad were here but he was not home, and the South American players that usually are in his corner had left.

I didn’t count for the change of venues though. But as the match started, I saw a Tarek I hadn’t seen for years. And he took Diego by surprise I felt. I don’t think Diego controlled a single rally today. Tarek was calling the shots, attacking every single ball, not letting the Peruvian settle down in the match.

The first game lasted 11 minutes, 10 winners for Tarek and only 3 for Diego. Tarek only made two errors in that opener, and from 2/2, the game was in the Egyptian’s racquet: 5/2, 7/4, 9/5, 11/6.

And I think that first game, the way Tarek was dominating the court with his incredibly positive squash, woke up the “Old Diego,” the one who used to stop playing when things were not going his way. 7/1, a good spell from Diego to 7/4, but a huge rally at that point, and he stopped trying, 11/4 in 6m.

Shooting on the ball twice during the last game, the head was gone. Turning the screw, Tarek kept on his shooting at OK Corral and another 6-minute game, 11/5.

Omar Abdel Aziz, coach to Tarek : He deserves it.

I’m surprised by the result, but not by the performance. I’ve seen that kind of performance week on week off in training. He is ON FIRE. He is playing Ali, all the top guys in training, he is putting so much effort in.

During Ramadan, he was doing an amazing diet, and you know how tough it is during Ramadan, his food intake was schedule by the minute.

As he proved today, age is nothing on this Tour. Word number 8 beating WR3, 9 years difference between them, and Tarek still performs amazingly.

And he has more. Now he has started to taste again the feeling you get after a great win, he will be back…

Tarek : 

“I’m over the moon, obviously, because I haven’t played this well in a long time.

“I’ve been feeling really bad for a while as well, so it’s good to have days like this when I can see myself play like I used to. I started the season quite well. I thought I had a few very good performances. Qatar, US Open, even Paris. I thought I was on a trajectory going up and then something happened, I don’t know what but I just dropped a level and couldn’t find my consistency and I’ve been fighting really hard to get it back.

“But in the process, I was really struggling to get the desire to play again and I was fighting myself every day.

“This tournament, I felt ‘OK, I can see some flashes of good squash. It wasn’t that consistent but I could see it every day and today was just a day where I felt really good on court.

“It was the start, to be honest, I had to start very well and be focused and as soon as I had that momentum I could continue until the end of the match.

“And then there was a patch where I felt like I couldn’t miss. I don’t want to jinx it but I felt like I was going for shots. I didn’t think too much, I’ve ben thinking about my shots too much for a while and today I just couldn’t think. I was just playing, I was in the zone and that’s what made the difference.

“Maybe the change of venue fired me up a bit. I was a bit angry that we had to move because I felt that the court was playable. I didn’t want to cool down and then warm up again. Fortunately the switch was very quick and I got on court very quickly and felt sharp.

“Overall I’m very happy to get a quality win against a player like Diego. I haven’t beaten him for a while; I used to have a very good record against him but he’s been chopping me for the last year and a half so I’m glad I could get a win against him today.”