10:07 pm
20 May 2024

Tarek Takes Out Palmer In Historic World Open Upset

2 Nov 2009

The last sixteen of the premier event on the PSA Tour will not include veteran Australian squash star David Palmer for the first time since 1998 after the two-time world champion crashed out of the Kuwait Men's World Open 2009 at the Salmiya Club in Kuwait City today.

"I didn't believe I could win today - I didn't expect this performance," said jubilant 21-year-old Egyptian Tarek Momen after his stunning 14-12, 12-10, 11-7 second round upset in 45 minutes over the Tour veteran who boasts 26 PSA titles, more than any other current player.

Palmer was unable to convert game balls in the first two games and failed to exploit an early lead in the third before going down in a rare straight games defeat.

"It's a huge win for me," acknowledged Momen as he was surrounded by well-wishing Egyptian players and fans. "But it's my second best - as I beat Gregory Gaultier last year in Egypt! But it has the same taste."

Compatriot Hisham Mohd Ashour, who had himself pulled off a notable upset earlier, added to the praise being heaped on the Electronic Engineering student at the American University in Cairo: "He did nothing wrong - he was on fire!"

Palmer was distraught at his defeat: "I'm really disappointed - I've struggled with my form for the last couple of tournaments. I'm struggling to play at the standard I'm used to.

"I'm just not getting enough match practice - and I need to try and rectify this if I am going to carry on," added the 33-year-old from New South Wales who relocated to Boston, USA, last year. "I don't get the chance to work with my long-time coach Shaun (Moxham) and I need to make a decision about this.

"I didn't hit the ball well this morning - and normally I can deal with that. I can't get myself out of trouble like I used to be able to do.

"There are still three big tournaments left this year, so we shall see how I do. I want to keep going until next year's Commonwealth Games and the 2010 World Open in Saudi," concluded the departing Aussie.

Momen will now play fellow countryman Wael El Hindi, the No9 seed who defeated Cairo-based Italian Amr Swelim. "He's won both times we've played on the PSA Tour before - but I feel I can do anything after beating Palmer," concluded Momen.

Hisham Mohd Ashour grabbed the headlines normally given to his younger brother Ramy Ashour, the defending champion, when he upset 10th seed Adrian Grant in straight games.

The 27-year-old from Cairo - who was close to exiting the event yesterday when he fought back from 0/2 down to beat English outsider Chris Simpson - was in devastating form today as he despatched the world No10 from London 13-11, 12-10, 11-9 in 44 minutes, saving game balls in the first two games.

"If I hadn't had that five-game match yesterday, I wouldn't have won today," said the exuberant 21st seed after his shock win. "Before I came here, I hadn't had a good win for three or four months - yet I feel I'm playing well.

"But the way I played today is my game - my problem is that I don't play like that all the time. If I played like that, I'd be top five!"

Hisham has been largely overshadowed by his 22-year-old brother - who leapt to two in the world shortly after becoming the first player to win the world junior championship twice. Then last year Ramy became the World Open champion.

"I used to be the one motivating him - now he's motivating me," acknowledged Hisham. "We always have five-setters when we train - and he's world champion!

"I need to move up - these are my last three years in the game. I know I have it!"

England's Daryl Selby survived the longest match of the tournament so far when he upset Malaysia's 12th seed Mohd Azlan Iskandar 11-7, 7-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8 in a 135-minute marathon.

"I always knew it was going to be close as we're both pushing players in the top ten - and he's had some fantastic results recently," said Selby, the 22nd seed from Essex.

"We're good friends and, while I really wanted to win, I feel for Azlan now. But I'm ecstatic to get through."

Was it his longest ever match? "Yes, by three minutes!"

England team-mates and fellow Yorkshiremen James Willstrop and Nick Matthew reserved places in the last sixteen for the third successive years with straight games wins - 11th seed Willstrop beating compatriot Jonathan Kemp 11-5, 11-5, 11-5 and Matthew, the fifth seed, overcoming Italian Davide Bianchetti 11-2, 11-3, 11-6.

"I've never felt comfortable playing Davide - we've had a few 3/1s and 3/2s, so it's good to get him in three today," said Matthew, the reigning British Open champion.

Bianchetti survived an 85-minute match yesterday which also featured two-hour 'blood injury' break while he was taken to hospital to have three stitches put in a cut on his chin.

"It must have been hard for him after yesterday, a rollercoaster day for sure" added Matthew. "Mentally you have to tune in twice for the game - then he was first on today.

"I tried to get on top from the start - I didn't let him get into his rhythm. I wanted to get on top before he settled."

Cameron Pilley ensured Australian interest in the last 16 when he beat 16th seed Mohamed El Shorbagy in a significant second round upset.

It was only a year ago that El Shorbagy, then the world junior champion, romped through to the quarter-finals of the World Open as a qualifier in his maiden appearance in the event.

The 18-year-old from Alexandria, the brightest young prospect in the game today, took a two game lead against Pilley before the tall Aussie began his fightback, eventually winning 9-11, 8-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-3 in 68 minutes.

"He was too good in the first two games, but dropped off thereafter," conceded the 20th seed from New South Wales. "I'd opened up the court too much for him in those early games, but managed to straighten up both sides later.

"He's improved out of sight since I last played him - he had nothing to lose a year ago, but now the pressure's on him as a top seed," explained the 26-year-old winner.

"It'll be interesting to see how he deals with the pressure. He can't afford to keep on playing like that."

It was a distraught El Shorbagy that left the building immediately after the game: "I'm really disappointed," said the teenager who is now studying at University in Bristol in the UK. "I was fine in the first two games - then I don't know what happened. I was so nervous and couldn't shake off that feeling."

In the evening matches on the all-glass court at Green Island, the top two seeds remained on course to meet in Saturday's final - but both dropped games before prevailing in four. Egyptian favourite Karim Darwish dashed Indian hopes by beating 29th seed Saurav Ghosal 11-4, 11-5, 9-11, 11-1.

Second seed Gregory Gaultier, the new world number one, battled for 50 minutes to overcome the USA's highest-ranked player ever Julian Illingworth 11-3, 11-8, 8-11, 11-3.

But another pair of Egyptians also looked in ominous form as former champion Amr Shabana and reigning champion Ramy Ashour despatched fellow countrymen in straight games - third seed Ashour defeating unseeded Omar Abdel Aziz 12-10, 11-8, 11-3 and fourth seed Shabana overcoming 24th seed Omar Mosaad 11-8, 11-8, 11-6.

2nd round:
[1] Karim Darwish (EGY) bt [29] Saurav Ghosal (IND) 11-4, 11-5, 9-11, 11-1 (40m)
[11] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [28] Jonathan Kemp (ENG) 11-5, 11-5, 11-5 (33m)
[8] Thierry Lincou (FRA) bt [18] Stewart Boswell (AUS) 7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-1 (45m)
[15] Alister Walker (ENG) bt Renan Lavigne (FRA) 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 11-9 (69m)
[4] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt [24] Omar Mosaad (EGY) 11-8, 11-8, 11-6 (37m)
[22] Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [12] Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) 11-7, 7-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8 (135m)
[25] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [6] David Palmer (AUS) 14-12, 12-10, 11-7 (45m)
[9] Wael El Hindi (EGY) bt Amr Swelim (ITA) 11-7, 11-7, 11-7 (39m)
[21] Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY) bt [10] Adrian Grant (ENG) 13-11, 12-10, 11-9 (44m)
[7] Peter Barker (ENG) bt [19] Olli Tuominen (FIN) 11-5, 11-4, 11-2 (31m)
[14] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) bt [17] Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) 11-6, 8-11, 11-2, 11-5 (52m)
[3] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY) 12-10, 11-8, 11-3 (39m)
[20] Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [16] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) 9-11, 8-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-3 (68m)
[5] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [27] Davide Bianchetti (ITA) 11-2, 11-3, 11-6 (30m)
[13] Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt [31] Tom Richards (ENG) 7-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-9 (53m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [32] Julian Illingworth (USA) 11-3, 11-8, 8-11, 11-3 (50m)