‘When the crowd cheer after every point, it’s what we play for – we’re entertainers’
By SEAN REUTHE in Zurich
World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy and World No.3 Tarek Momen will contest the final of the 2019 Grasshopper Cup, PSA World Tour Gold tournament after they got the better of fellow Egyptians Karim Abdel Gawad and Mohamed Abouelghar in their semi-final clashes at Zurich’s Halle 622.
ElShorbagy will appear in his second successive Grasshopper Cup final after winning a gripping battle by an 11-7, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6 scoreline. Known on tour as ‘The Beast’, ElShorbagy put in a performance befitting that moniker as he held his opponent’s shot-making skills at bay.
Gawad came into the semi-finals after an emphatic 3-0 win over Rösner in the previous round, while he beat ElShorbagy en route to winning the Black Ball Open in December. Gawad was able to stick in the match for the most part as he recovered from a game down to level, while he came within a whisker of winning a crucial third game after weathering a storm to go game ball up.
Two strokes and a tin followed in quick succession though to hand the initiative back to ElShorbagy, and the 28-year-old blitzed to victory in the fourth against a tired-looking Gawad to book his spot in the title-decider.
“I’m very proud of this performance,” said ElShorbagy. “I was up 9-6 in that third game, it was a very crucial game, and at that point I was thinking more about winning it, rather than how I was going to win it. That’s when the emotions take control of your brain, but luckily for me he gifted me that game with an error and a stroke.
“When you play a match which is such high quality like this, and you see the crowd cheering after every point with all their heart, it’s what we play for – we’re entertainers.”
The day’s other semi-final saw Momen make it nine successive wins over World No.8 Abouelghar as he cruised to an 11-4, 11-6, 11-8 victory.
Just 24 hours earlier, Momen could barely stand up after battling to a hard-fought quarter-final triumph over India’s Saurav Ghosal, but he backed it up superbly as he dominated proceedings today at Halle 622.
In contrast, Abouelghar was coming off the back of a sensational 3-1 win over World No.1 Ali Farag in the previous round, but he looked like a different player as he never really got going against Momen.
Momen had already beaten Abouelghar four times this season, with their last two meetings going the distance to five games, but he was a class apart in Zurich. He dictated the tempo of the match and hit his targets perfectly to reach a third PSA Tour final in a row for the first time in his career.
“To get a 3-0 win is just spectacular,” Momen said. “I know Mohamed had a tough one yesterday, I think mentally more than physically. I believe it would have been hard to back it up. I’ve been in this situation a few times, and I know taking out the World No.1 can take a lot out of your mind.
“This is my fifth time here in Zurich. In the previous four events I’ve had a different result in every single one. I’ve made the final, the semi-finals, the quarter-finals and the last 16, so hopefully this time it will be a different result as well.”
Momen will appear in his first final here since 2014. Momen will look to build on back-to-back wins over World No.2 ElShorbagy after beating him in the semi-finals of both the PSA World Championships and the Canary Wharf Classic. ElShorbagy, meanwhile, will look to improve on a final defeat to compatriot Ramy Ashour last year.
The finals take place at 15:30 (GMT+1) will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
A women’s exhibition tournament also took place today at Halle 622, with World No.3 Nour El Tayeb and World No.4 Camille Serme beating World No.27 Nele Gilis and World No.5 Joelle King, respectively. Gilis and King will go head-to-head at 13:30, while El Tayeb and Serme will contest the exhibition final an hour later.
Matches will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour and via PSA SQUASHTV on YouTube.
PSA $110,000 Men’s Grasshopper Cup 2019, Halle 622, Zurich, Switzerland.
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 11-7, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6 (59m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt  Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 11-4, 11-6, 11-8 (38m)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA