Momen battles back to stun Darwish in Chicago first round
Former world number one Karim Darwish’s miserable start to the season continued in the first round of the Windy City Open, as the sixth seed twice squandered game leads before falling to fellow Egyptian and world number 12 Tarek Momen in Chicago, USA.
Darwish, 32, has slipped down to eighth in the world rankings – his lowest position since October 2007 – following early exits at the Tournament of Champions and Motor City Open earlier this year and failed to endorse his seeding once again as Momen fought back to claim his first career victory over the reigning KL Open champion.
“That was definitely one of the biggest wins of my career,” said Momen, who needed 67 minutes before advancing 6-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7.
“I have never beaten Karim before in my career so it’s a very special day for me today and I think I played really well. I had some concentration lapses which he took full advantage of and he made it hard for me, but I’m very pleased with how I kept mentally strong.
“There are so many positives for me to take from the match. I train with Karim a lot in Egypt and there has always been a mental barrier there.
“He’s a top player and I used to look up to him a lot and it’s hard when you are getting closer and it’s mentally very tough to breakthrough so I’m happy that I managed to break those shackles today.”
The 26-year-old from Cairo will now face Indian number one Saurav Ghosal for a place in Saturday’s quarter-final, after the world number 18 eased past Welsh wild card Peter Creed 3-0.
In the longest match of the day, world number seven Borja Golan survived a potential banana skin against Colombian number one Miguel Angel Rodriguez, but needed nearly 90 minutes to triumph 11-5, 13-11, 11-13, 11-6 and set up an all-European second round encounter against German world number 11 Simon Rosner.
“The first match of a tournament is always difficult for both players and today was no exception,” said Golan.
“It wasn’t the best quality match that we have ever played but I think it was a real mental challenge and those are the kind of games you have to get through in these tournaments.
“Miguel played really well today and matches against him are always difficult. We had some long, tough rallies and he showed his character when I had match ball in the third game and he managed to take that one so I’m pleased to have come through in the end.”
The Spanish number one will now be gunning for revenge against Rosner after suffering a straight games defeat in the final of the Alwatan & Asnan International in December.
Rosner was given a brief scare in his last 32 match against top-ranked qualifier Chris Simpson, before eventually securing an 8-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-5 success in 69 minutes.
Elsewhere, Egyptian trio Mohamed Elshorbagy, Omar Mossad and Karim Abdel Gawad progressed through to the last 16 at the expense of South African number one Stephen Coppinger, Canadian Shawn Delierre and Karim Ali Fathi of Egypt respectively.
Elshorbagy, seeded fourth this week, will be looking to maintain his world number three ranking over fellow compatriot Ramy Ashour and will now face world number 13 Mosaad for a place in the quarter-final.
In the final match of the day, French joint world number one Gregory Gaultier sent an ominous message to his rivals after dropping just six points en route to a three game thrashing of English qualifier Joe Lee in just under an hour.
The 31-year-old second seed faces Gawad next, who has never beaten the six-time French National champion in their three career meetings on the PSA Tour.
2014 Windy City Open: First Round, Bottom Half Results:
Simon Rosner (GER) 3-1 [Q] Chris Simpson (ENG) 8-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-5 (69m)
 Borja Golan (ESP) 3-1 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 11-5, 13-11, 11-13, 11-6 (86m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-0 [Q] Shawn Delierre (CAN) 11-6, 11-4, 11-3 (34m)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) 3-1 Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 8-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 (50m)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-0 [WC] Peter Creed (WAL) 11-6, 12-10, 11-7 (52m)
Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-2  Karim Darwish (EGY) 6-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7 (67m)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-0 [Q] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 11-5, 11-5, 14-12 (37m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 3-0 [Q] Joe Lee (ENG) 11-5, 11-1, 11-0 (27m)
Second Round Draw:
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v  Peter Barker (ENG)
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Amr Shabana (EGY)
Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) v  Ramy Ashour (EGY)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v Tarek Momen (EGY)
Simon Rosner (GER) v  Borja Golan (ESP)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Pictures by Steve Cubbins (SquashSite)