Beng Hee Bursts Into Motor City Open Final
30 January 2012
RESULTS: PSA International 50 Motor City Open, Detroit, USA
Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt  Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) 11-9, 11-7, 13-11
 Hisham Mohamed Ashour (EGY) bt Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 8-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9
Unseeded Malaysian Ong Beng Hee continued his blistering run in the Motor City Open when he ousted title-holderMohamed El Shorbagy in straight games to reach the final of the PSA World Tour International 50 squash event in its 12th year at the Birmingham Athletic Club in Bloomfield Hills, near Detroit.
“The thirty one-year old world No34 may be in the twilight of his career but the veteran still has some gas in the tank,” said tournament spokesman AJ Hakim after Beng Hee brushed aside the 21-year-old top-seeded Egyptian 11-9, 11-7, 13-11 to reach his first squash final in the USA since winning the World Junior Championship in Princeton in 1998.
Beng Hee made his Motor City Open debut in 2000 when he was a 19-year-old up-and-comer on the PSA World Tour. That year, he advanced to the semi-finals, losing to then world No9 Alex Gough in four games. Since then he has risen as high as seven in the world rankings and been a steady presence in the Top 20 before injuries slowed him up in the last year.
His 2012 semi-final victory was over a fresher, younger, El Shorbagy. Beng Hee was playing just 24 hours after a five-game, 122-minute marathon quarter against fourth seed Cameron Pilley – and two nights after another five-game endurance-test against Frenchman Gregoire Marche.
“I’m extremely happy I made the final this time,” said Beng Hee, now in the 22nd Tour final of his career. “I’ve been struggling the last season, so to start this year being in the final – I’m extremely happy.”
After executing his game plan, pushing the shot-making Egyptian deep in the court, and playing a near-perfect first two games, Beng Hee started to feel fatigue late in the third.
“I don’t think Shorbagy played his best, maybe a bit nervous because he’s the defending champion and I had no pressure,” Beng Hee said of his opponent, the world No6. “When I went 10-7 up, I got a bit tired because I think I played really well until then. And Shorbagy started to pick up his momentum. He’s a young guy, so he’s obviously extremely fit and very strong. And he started to play a lot better.
“I think towards the end I got a bit lucky,” continued the Malaysian. “Eleven-all is anyone’s game. Had he won it, it would have definitely gone to five because I was getting a bit tired.”
Hisham Mohamed Ashour, his opponent in the final, was also feeling tired with legs heavy from competing in his third straight tournament. However, the second-seeded Egyptian defeated South African Stephen Coppinger 8-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9.
“I know he’s been playing really well lately,” Ashour said of unseeded Coppinger, ranked 34 in the world. “The thing is, my legs are so heavy today, and he takes the ball so early too. He’s a half-volleyer. He takes the ball early so I knew my legs are not super fast, so I had to hold the ball a lot and try to always keep him behind me.”
The 29-year-old advances to his second final in 2012, having reached the climax at the Comfort Inn Open in Vancouver. He hopes his fast start in 2012 and possible MCO championship will help him achieve a childhood dream.
“I’m pretty happy I’m in the final,” said the current world No14. “If I win this tournament I think I move from 14 to into the top ten, which has been my dream since I was 10 years old. I’m almost 30 now.”
Ashour and Beng Hee met previously in November at the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open, with Ashour winning in four. “May the best player win,” said Beng Hee. “I think it’s going to be a tough match.”
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