By ALAN THATCHER and MATT COLES
Just two weeks after their pulsating five-game battle in the final of the U.S. Open, Egypt’s Mostafa Asal and Tarek Momen will face off in the quarter-finals of the Qatar QTerminals Classic.
These two are building a sparkling rivalry, with controversy never far away from the proceedings.
In Philadelphia, Momen held a two-game advantage but Asal came fighting back to claim his first major title. They will meet again in the last eight of this PSA Platinum level tournament in Doha.
World No.4 Momen won a rapid-fire 29-minute clash with England’s Tom Richards, one which saw quick rally after quick rally with plenty of winners and unforced errors across the three games.
The majority of the action took place in the front of the court and Richards was close to taking both of the opening two games, only for Momen to find that extra bit of quality to build up a 2-0 lead. ‘The Viper’ made no mistake in the third game, taking it 11-5 to continue his run in Doha, the scene of his PSA World Championship victory two years ago.
“I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but I knew Tom is capable of giving me a hard time on court,” said Momen.
“He did today, he played really well. I can’t say I’m really happy with my performance today, I’m not so pleased with it, but I’m happy I got through in three games.
“I remember in the last 16 (of the World Championships he won) I almost got knocked out by Abdulla Al Tamimi. It wasn’t a smooth ride to the final but I felt like we were a bit unlucky with the ball today. We played with the worst ball that was ever made. We both had to deal with it and he managed to adapt a bit better, but towards the end of each game I managed to close it out.
“I’m expecting a tough one (against Asal). Two weeks ago I had the right tactics and I was just a bit unlucky not being able to close it out in the end. I’m hoping to repeat my performance again and I’ll try to get through this time and get the win.”
Momen will face compatriot Mostafa Asal in the last eight after the World No.9 came through against another Egyptian, Youssef Soliman, with the latter having to retire from their third round match through injury.
The match was shaping up to be a captivating affair, with Asal prevailing in a 33-minute first game on the tie-break.
Soliman received some treatment from the physio in between games, but did not look himself as the match went on.
The World No.19 continued into the second game, and had his chances to push Asal all the way, but the ‘Raging Bull’ was able to take it, while Soliman constantly tried to keep the pressure off his injured hamstring.
The match ended prematurely in the third game as Soliman shook hands with Asal, unable to continue because of the injury. Asal continues his unbeaten run, stretching it to seven matches, going back to the start of his campaign in Philadelphia.
Fellow Egyptian Mohamed Abouelghar also made his way through to the quarter-finals, reaching the last eight of a Platinum event for the first time since the British Open in 2019. He defeated Adrian Waller, and will now face World No.3 Paul Coll after the New Zealander got the better of France’s Baptiste Masotti on a day when all four matches were completed in straight games.
Qatar QTerminals Classic 2021, Khalifa Tennis and Squash Centre, Doha.
Third Round (Bottom Half):
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 13-11, 13-11, 11-5 (29m)
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Youssef Soliman (EGY) 3-0: 13-11, 11-8, 2-1 rtd (52m)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-3, 11-6 (27m)
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 3-0: 11-9, 11-4, 11-9 (48m)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) v  Joel Makin (WAL)
 Diego Elias (PER) v Raphael Kandra (GER)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v  Mostafa Asal (EGY)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
Pictures courtesy of PSA