‘He’s unreal, he never gives up,’ says a relieved Momen
By ALAN THATCHER and SEAN REUTHE
Joel Makin’s brave run ended in the U.S. Open presented by Truist as he lost to Egypt’s Tarek Momen in a brutal semi-final battle at the Arlen Specter Center in Philadelphia.
Makin caused one of the tournament’s biggest upsets when he overcame defending champion Ali Farag in the quarter finals, but he was unable to get the better of world No.4 Momen, who fought to an 11-9, 5-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8 victory in 83 minutes.
World No.10 Asal will face Momen in today’s final after winning an even longer scrap with Peru’s Diego Elias, saving two match balls in the process.
Momen was relieved to get past the physically imposing Makin. Momen said: “He’s unreal, he never gives up. It’s one of the best qualities he has, and I don’t think anyone on tour has this quality. The way he fights despite being extremely tired and fatigued is just unreal.
“The way he was fighting kept me going. I was thinking ‘Look at what he’s doing, look how hard he’s pushing, you need to push hard as well’.
“I think he just lifted me up today … I’m really proud with how I fought today, the fourth and fifth games were super tough.”
Egypt’s World No.10 Asal came through a massive five-game thriller against Peru’s Elias.
Asal has already established himself as one of the sport’s finest players after winning his first major PSA title in July’s CIB PSA World Tour Finals, and the 20-year-old will have the chance to add the U.S. Open trophy to his collection after beating World No.8 Elias by an 11-7, 11-8, 3-11, 2-11, 12-10 scoreline.
It looked as if Elias would have the distinction of becoming the first Peruvian Platinum finalist after he battled back from two games down to level. Asal looked spent physically, but the Egyptian summoned whatever strength he had left to fight back from 7-2 behind and then two match balls down to seal his place in the title decider.
“This is a wonderful place to play and a wonderful court,” said Asal afterwards.
“I’m thankful I came through today and played this amazing match, it’s been a pleasure to play in front of the US crowd. I came into this tournament with a bit of an injury in my shoulder, and I’ve been trying to fix it since San Francisco.
“I’m going to recover now and play some FIFA to relax a little bit. I have confidence that I can win the tournament tomorrow. I did before at the World Tour Finals.”
Both Momen and Asal will now aim to win a first Platinum title, and Momen will look to avenge his defeat to Asal at the Oracle NetSuite Open a fortnight ago.
The women’s title decider will see World No.6 Hania El Hammamy line up in her first U.S. Open final opposite the defending champion Nouran Gohar following wins against World No.1 Nour El Sherbini and USA’s Olivia Fiechter respectively.
El Hammamy found herself a game down after a strong start from El Sherbini, who is a three-time runner-up at this tournament. However, El Hammamy stepped it up in the second game and punished El Sherbini as the match went on, eventually emerging victorious courtesy of an 8-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-7 triumph.
“It would mean a lot [to win the U.S. Open title],” El Hammamy said. “I’ve never reached anything in this tournament, I used to lose in the first or second round. I’m loving the new venue, it’s amazing, I’m loving the court, the atmosphere, and the crowd is amazing.”
Gohar ended US hopes at the tournament after overcoming the country’s No.3 player Olivia Fiechter 11-5, 11-2, 11-3.
Fiechter was appearing in her maiden Platinum semi-final after causing a major shock against compatriot and World No.3 Amanda Sobhy in the third round. But she was put to the sword in a dominant Gohar display, and the Egyptian will now aim to capture back-to-back U.S. Open titles.
“I have great memories of two years ago, it was amazing,” Gohar said. “Having the crowd today, even if most of the time they were cheering against me, I love it. I love having a great crowd watching and enjoying the game. It makes me feel really happy, and I really appreciate what I’m doing on court.”
The 2021 U.S. Open finals will start today at 7pm local time (five hours behind UK time). All of the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV and the channels of contracted broadcast partners.
2021 U.S. Open presented by Truist,Arlen Specter U.S. Squash National Center, Philadelphia, USA.
Men’s Semi Finals:
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Joel Makin (WAL) 3-2: 11-9, 5-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8 (83m)
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt  Diego Elias (PER) 3-2: 11-7, 11-8, 3-11, 2-11, 12-10 (96m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v  Mostafa Asal (EGY)
Women’s Semi Finals:
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-1: 8-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-7 (59m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Olivia Fiechter (USA) 3-0: 11-5, 11-2, 11-3 (32m)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA