Mosaad, Barker and Golan all go off the road in day of shocks in Motor City Open
By JAMES HAWKINS – Squash Mad Correspondent
Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — The Egyptians’ recent dominance at the Motor City Open came to a surprising end on a day of upsets on Sunday at the Birmingham Athletic Club.
One day after defending MCO champ and World #1 Mohamed Elshorbagy, World #4 Amr Shabana, and World #14 Marwan Elshorbagy all lost in the opening round, the last Egyptian hope – fifth-seeded World #11 Omar Mosaad – was bounced in the quarter-finals. Hong Kong’s Max Lee rallied to defeat Mosaad in an upset-riddled day at the 16th Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection.
South Africa’s Stephen Coppinger and France’s Mathieu Castagnet added their own shockers. Coppinger recorded his second straight come-from-behind win over third-seeded World #6 Peter Barker – and Castagnet rolled fourth-seeded World #7 Borja Golan in straight games.
Egyptian players have won four of the past five titles while claiming seven of the 10 spots in the championship match since 2010. Yet Mosaad suffered the same fate as his compatriots when World #16 Lee staged a gutsy comeback to prevail in five games: 9-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9.
After falling behind 1-2, Lee used a long runs in the fourth and fifth games to turn the tide in his favor. Trailing 3-4 early in Game Four, Lee tallied five straight points — three on unforced errors by Mosaad — to assume control and even the match at 2-all. Down 5-9 in the deciding Game Five, Lee fought through leg cramps and willed his way to steal the next six points and the match.
“Being 7-3, 8-4 and then 9-5 down (in Game Five) and comeback while cramping, it’s unbelievable,” Lee said afterwards. “I didn’t think about losing mentally – but physically I’m really hurting because his pace is unbelievably high. From the first game to the end I stuck to my plan to just hang in there and run. Against those top guys I can’t always get my shots and beat them because they’re very good. I have to be patient and try my best all the time.”
Coppinger (World #18) was the first to book a spot in the semifinals with an epic five-game victory over 2014 finalist Parker: 7-11, 11-4, 5-11, 11-7, 11-5. Down 1-2 in games, Coppinger bounced back – using a trio of skillful drop shots to take a commanding 5-1 lead in Game Five.
“I think it was always going to be about the beginning. Every single game whoever got the better start went through and won,” said Coppinger, who advanced to the semis for the first time since 2012. “I came out with a lot of purpose in the beginning (of Game Five) and thankfully it paid off.”
On the other side of the bracket, Castagnet spoiled 2009 champ Golan’s run to join Mohamed Elshorbagy and retired Canadian legend Jonathon Power as the only two-time MCO winners. The Frenchman scored a convincing 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 decision, ensuring that a new champion will be crowned.
Both Castagnet (World #15) and Golan entered the quarterfinal match with plenty of momentum after dominate first-round victories, but Castagnet’s strategy for the Spaniard worked to perfection.
“I know his strength is his boasts,” Castagnet said. “My plan was to play lob on his boasts just to have more time, go back to the T, get ready for the next shot, try to keep the ball tight to the wall and then wait for his mistakes.”
Castagnet will square off against sixth seed and World #12 Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the semis, which begin at 6 p.m. Monday.
The little Colombian beat the big Aussie Cameron Pilley (World #18) in four games, the battle lasting 80 minutes. It was not the longest match of the day, with Coppinger’s victory taking 85 minutes of stamina-sapping commitment, and Lee lasting three minutes longer for his victory over Mosaad.
The quarter-final wins are breakthroughs for Castagnet, Lee and Rodriguez, who will all be making their first MCO semi-final appearances.
Motor City Open, Sunday’s quarter-final results:
–  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) def. Cameron Pilley (AUS) 6-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-9 (80m)
–  Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) def.  Borja Golan (ESP) 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 (61m)
– Stephen Coppinger (RSA) def.  Peter Barker (ENG) 7-11, 11-4, 5-11, 11-7, 11-5 (85m)
– Max Lee (HKG) def.  Omar Mosaad (EGY) 9-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9 (88m)
–  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) vs  Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
– Stephen Coppinger (RSA) vs Max Lee (HKG)
Pictures by BRYAN MITCHELL