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PSA: Shabana and Darwish Motor through to meet in Detroit final

Amr Shabana gets in front against Mohamed El Shorbagy at the Birmingham Athletic Club. Picture by HENRY PAYNE

Shabana & Darwish Motor Into Detroit Final

29 January 2013

RESULTS: PSA International 70 Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection, Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, USA

[4] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt [1] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) 13-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-7 (65m)
[2] Karim Darwish (EGY) bt [3] Omar Mosaad (EGY) 14-12, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5 (97m)

Egyptian PSA World Tour veterans Amr Shabana and Karim Darwish held off the challenges of younger compatriots in the Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection to set up a mouthwatering final of the PSA International 70 squash event at Birmingham Athletic Club in Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, USA, between two former world number ones.

In the first semi-final, 33-year-old Shabana got off to a quick 7-2 start as Mohamed El Shorbagy, the 22-year-old top seed, struggled to find his range of shot. But, in the blink of an eye, the higher-ranked youngster stormed back to take a 9-7 lead.

“When you think you’re cruising, that’s when you lose it,” world No.8 Shabana said afterwards about his blown lead. The number four seed then staved off two game-balls and rescued a 13-11 first game win.

“If I would’ve lost that game, it would’ve been devastating mentally,” Shabana continued.

El Shorbagy, the world No.5, made several unforced errors to drop the second game 11-5, but reduced the deficit by taking game three as his shots finally began to find their mark.

Shabana reclaimed the upper hand in the fourth, racing to a 6-1 lead and holding the advantage before closing out the match 13-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-7 after 65 minutes.

“Every time we play, regardless of the score, it’s always a tip-toe game,” said Shabana, who extended his career head-to-head over El Shorbagy to 9-0. “Right now, I might have a slight advantage but Mohamed is still young and he’s going to catch up sooner or later.”

El Shorbagy later told his followers on Twitter: “Shabana was too good. A lot to learn from this match. Now I’ve got a good break, which I really need before playing Kuwait in March.”

Making his first return to the Motor City Open after mowing down the competition in 2010, 31-year-old Darwish advanced to his second MCO final after ousting 24-year-old Omar Mosaad in a physical encounter.

Second seed Darwish benefited after a pair of crucial mistakes by his taller opponent in the first game. With game-ball at 12-11, third seed Mosaad hit back-to-back shots into the bottom of the tin before Darwish hit a forehand nick shot winner to seal it.

Mosaad, ranked nine in the world, bounced back in the next two games to take a 2-1 lead. Darwish stuck to his game plan, however, relentlessly pounding balls into the back corners and softly flicking balls into the front areas to draw level.

Darwish, the world No.6, cruised in the decider as fatigue became a factor and his opponent made five unforced errors to hand the match to Darwish 14-12, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5 after 97 minutes.

“It’s always a physical match against Omar,” said Darwish afterwards. “He’s a big guy and it’s hard to pass him because he takes the ball early. But I tried to pass as much as I can and I think the last two games he lost a little bit of energy.”

No way through: Omar Mosaad is shut out by Karim Darwish. Picture by HENRY PAYNE

Shabana is celebrating his 45th PSA Tour final appearance, and Darwish his 40th, with six previous finals shared equally. The Detroit encounter will mark the pair’s 21st Tour clash over the past 12 years, with Shabana boasting a 12-8 career lead.

The duo most recently met in the final of the 2010 Qatar Classic with Darwish prevailing 8-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-6.

“Shabana is a great player. I think people will enjoy tomorrow,” Darwish added.

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