Mo takes the hard road to win in Doha
By NATHAN CLARKE in Doha
Egypt’s Mohamed ElShorbagy won the Qatar Classic for the third time in his career courtesy of a 3-1 win over compatriot and surprise 2017 finalist Tarek Momen inside Doha’s Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex earlier today.
Competing in his sixth straight Qatar final, the 26-year-old from Alexandria showed his championship calibre throughout the PSA World Series tournament as he swept past World No.8 Fares Dessouky, World No.4 Ali Farag and World No.1 Gregory Gaultier to reach the title-decider, where his big game experience was too much for debutant finalist Momen, the World No.7.
It was ElShorbagy who took the opening game as Momen, competing on the biggest stage of his career, showed signs of nerves and while the 29-year-old showed his mettle to take the second game he was ultimately a step behind ElShorbagy in the end as the former World No.1 prevailed 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7 to add the 2017 title to his wins in 2013 and 2015.
“I’m extremely proud of how I performed this week at this event,” said ElShorbagy. “When I saw the draw pre-event I knew it would be tough. I had to play the World No.9, the No.5, the No.1 and the No.7 to win, but playing tough opponents is the challenge that I live for. To be the best you have to beat these players.
“At the end of the day you want to challenge yourself against the best. Backing it up mentally each day was not easy – but I’m really happy. Last season I didn’t play like a winner – this week I feel like I played at my best level and that was my focus coming here.”
After dropping the second game ElShorbagy looked to be up against it in the third as Momen, utilising his speed and agility, attacked in the mid-stages to string together a series of punishing rallies and sap energy from ElShorbagy’s legs.
But the Bristol-based player showed just why he has won 28 PSA World Tour titles – 14 of which have come at World Series level – as he dug in with dogged determination to come through a crucial stage of the match and complete the win.
“This week I got it right and I felt I played the big points well,” said ElShorbagy. “What made the difference today was my experience. I have been in so many finals. But it was his first. I knew the emotions he was going through.
“I was trying to contain him but at times he was like a train – I just couldn’t stop him. When he took the second game it was a big blow for me. He really pushed me and I feel this is jus the beginning for him. If he can keep that momentum, he’ll be hard to stop.
“But today it didn’t matter how tired I was – it was about how much I wanted to win. I just killed myself on every shot and I’m so happy to have won.”
After the match Momen said: “It’s been an incredible week for me. I didn’t know what to expect coming here and making my first ever World Series tournament final was very special. Obviously I’m disappointed to lose but think it was a good match.”
PSA M165 Men’s Qatar Classic 2017, Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, Doha, Qatar.
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7 (64m)
Pictures courtesy of PSA