Double delight for Mr and Mrs Momen
By ALAN THATCHER, MATT COLES and SEAN REUTHE at Canary Wharf
Egypt’s World No.3 Tarek Momen and New Zealand’s World No.7 Paul Coll will contest the final of the 2019 Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic after they ended the hopes of World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy and Mathieu Castagnet at a packed East Wintergarden.
The popular London venue, which has attracted sell-out crowds every day for the past eight years, rocked to the rafters as two momentous matches unfolded on the glass court.
For Frenchman Castagnet it was something of a Hard Brexit, with no backhand backstop. And for ElShorbagy, his bid to regain the world number one spot was derailed on the Jubilee Line as he lost to Momen for the second time in a fortnight. ElShorbagy became the youngest player of the modern era to reach 500 PSA Tour matches, but it turned out to be a very special day for Momen.
Soon after his wife Raneem El Welily won 15-13 in the fifth game against Nouran Gohar to reach the final of the Black Ball Open in Cairo, Momen produced a brilliant display of attacking squash to beat top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy to reach the Canary Wharf final for the second year running.
Last year he finished runner-up to ElShorbagy. But less than two weeks ago in Chicago he beat ElShorbagy for the first time in 10 matches to reach the final of the World Championships, where he finished runner-up to Ali Farag.
Tonight in London, he began in uncharacteristically explosive form to take the game to ElShorbagy from the opening rally.
He looked positive at all times and managed the game comfortably to win it 11-7. ElShorbagy, with Hadrian Stiff in his corner, responded solidly in the second, playing at a higher pace and burying some fantastic winners.
The third game was crucial and ElShorbagy will be kicking himself for squandering an 8-4 lead.
Momen kept chipping away, pulled level and won the tiebreak when ElShorbagy slammed the ball into the middle of the tin.
The shot echoed around the East Wintergarden venue as Momen marched off court with renewed confidence and purpose.
The fourth game was close all the way through but Momen again finished strongly to win it 11-9.
Afterwards, he told me: “I am over the moon. I was having deja vu, because only two weeks ago, I was playing Mohamed in the semi finals of the World Champs, and Raneem had just finished a five-game match, 12-10 in the fifth.
“[Unfortunately] She lost, and it was very hard for me to go on court and play Mohamed only five minutes after it happened. Today it was the same scenario. Literally, two minutes before I started warming up, their match was over in Cairo.
“The result was reversed. She won this time and therefore, I was a bit worried that my result would also be reversed as well. She saved match balls as well. I just went on court today, I knew we both had a really tough season. We are both tired, but we both just want to make the most of it.
“I am kind of trying to get this approach where I go on and give 100%. I know I had Mohamed today. I was tired, Yes, but I just wanted to win and I didn’t want to give it up. I want to be the best in the world, and to be the best, I have to perform at my best every single match and every single tournament.
“No matter how much I was struggling, I knew I had to fight. Luckily, I was actually feeling pretty good going into the first game. I felt like I was okay. I didn’t have the niggles that I had been suffering, I was 100% fine. I kept pushing and luckily I was playing so well, so I am really happy with the way I have played today.”
After two massive wins over Simon Rosner and Fares Dessouky, Mathieu Castagnet was determined to avoid a Soft Brexit tonight.
However, he was unable to convert crucial points in the opening game and eventually lost 10-12, 5-11, 6-11 as Coll showed what a class act he is becoming.
“We have never played on the PSA Tour before but I watched him all week, and I knew I was in for a tough battle,” Coll said.
“I went on court pretty relaxed tonight. I am just trying to enjoy the occasion and enjoy my squash at the moment. Like I said, we had never played on the PSA Tour before, but I knew it was going to be a really tough match, and mentally I had to focus right to the end because he digs in deep and fights all the way.
“I don’t change my gameplan too much going from best-of-three to best-of-five. I try and stay the same. I feel like it works in both formats. You just have to stay focussed mentally for longer because you can switch off more often in best-of-five. Generally speaking, I try and keep my tactics the same.
“I was watching it [Momen v ElShorbagy] while I was warming up. It was incredible, such high-quality squash in that match. Both players probably deserved to win that match, it was such high-quality.
“I am going to have my work cut out for me tomorrow, but I am looking forward to the challenge against one of the top players in the world.
“I am just going to have to be really alert, you know. He is taking it in so well, with lots of angles and lots of severity. I am going to have to really watch him and be careful where I leave the ball on the court because he can put it away. He is one of the best in the world at putting the ball away.”
Coll will appear in the final of this tournament for the first time and will be aiming to win his first PSA Tour title since the 2016 Channel VAS Championships – where he beat Momen in the final.
Coverage of the final begins at 19:00 (GMT) on Friday March 15 and will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and mainstream broadcasters such as BT Sport, Sky Sports New Zealand, Fox Sports Australia and more.
2019 Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic, East Wintergarden, London, England.
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 6-11, 12-10, 11-9 (60m)
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-0: 12-10, 11-5, 11-6 (47m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
Pictures by STEVE LINE (courtesy of PSA), PATRICK LAUSON and ARTYOM LISS