Mighty Momen the master in Mumbai
By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor) and Sachika Irshwin Balvani (Squash Mad Correspondent in Mumbai)
Tarek Momen halted Fares Dessouky’s comeback rampage to win the final of the CCI International in Mumbai. Momen took the the title, but throughout the tournament the main international talking point was the return to form by one of Egypt’s most talented players.
Locally, there was considerable interest in the performance of the home players who were competing in this tournament with almost $78,000 of prize money at stake.
There were two exceptional performances in the second round, with Mahesh Mangaonkar toppling No.2 seed Marwan ElShorbagy on his return to the PSA Tour, with Ramit Tandon removing No.8 seed Tom Richards. Both victories were in straight games, and followed first round wins over Baptiste Marcotti and Josh Masters respectively.
A cruel twist of the draw pitched Tandon against India’s main international ambassador, Saurav Ghosal, in the quarter-finals. Sadly, Ghosal was forced to withdraw because of injury and Tandon went through to the semi-finals, where he faced Momen.
Tandon fought hard in every game, but the Egyptian simply had the quality and surety of touch to win each game by an 11-7 margin.
In the other semi-final, Dessouki signalled his return to top form by beating England’s James Willstrop in four games, weathering a third game fightback to win 11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 11-4.
Here, Sachika Irshwin Balvani takes up the story:
There is only one winner. In any sport, but especially in our individual sport, where only two people get into a glass box, closed off from the world, and battle it out against each other.
Almost always, there is also one favourite. But today? Perhaps not. In its own way, the weighing scale was perfectly balanced: Tarek Momen on one side, and Fares Dessouky on the other.
Fourteen months. That’s how long it has been since Fares Dessouky has been out of action on the PSA World Tour. He had nothing to lose.
At 24 years old, he stood calm and composed, happy to have earned his place in the final here at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai.
Comebacks are difficult, but Dessouky had made it look easy so far in this tournament. He looked like he hadn’t been on bed rest, like he hadn’t had to work his way back onto court, one tiny and frustrating step at a time.
Momen, on the other hand, had showed that his superior experience was his best friend this past week. He had dealt with underdog after underdog, one tenacious and determined player after the other. Youssef Ibrahim, Iker Pajares, Ramit Tandon… as rising players, they had thrown their absolute best at him. But Momen had absorbed the pressure, won the big points, and come through each match.
So as the sun set and the court lit up, the crowd was restless. Going by the cheers, the audience was well balanced too, as some were for Momen and some were for Dessouky. So who would the winner be? The underdog and former World Number 8, or the current World Number 4?
The first game began with Momen looking just a little more comfortable than Dessouky. He took the first game, 11-7, and came out of the court looking more determined than ever. In contrast, Dessouky looked cooler than ever. It seemed to have worked, because he came onto the second game and racked up a lead. Momen caught up as the game hit the halfway mark, but in vain. Dessouky returned the favour with a 7-11 win for himself.
The third game: arguably the most crucial of them all. The crowd knew it and the players knew it. They fought each other and it was only in the tiebreak that Momen managed to get back his lead in the match as he bagged the third game, 12-10.
But Dessouky wasn’t going anywhere. He attacked at the right moments and in the right places. He used his composure and fed off the crowd’s enthusiasm. The game went to another tie-break, and this time it was Dessouky who won the two winning points to level the match at two games all.
And in the fifth, Momen showed what makes him the player he is. It was the slightest of differences that set him, The Viper, apart from Dessouky. He had found his edge and didn’t give into any frustration, which he channeled into his game instead.
They levelled at 7-7, but Momen was unrelenting. His power on the ball, his stamina, his unmatched ability to recover to the T with lightning speed. He kept it all going til the end. He took the game and the match, winning his sixth PSA World Tour Title here in Mumbai.
2019 Men’s CCI International JSW Indian Squash Circuit, Mumbai (PSA $77,800)..
 Tarek Momen (EGY) beat  Fares Dessouky (EGY) 11-7, 7-11, 12-10, 10-12, 11-7 (80 mins)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Ramit Tandon (IND) 11-7, 11-7, 11-7 (39m)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt  James Willstrop (ENG) 11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 11-4 (49m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) 11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 11-7 (65m)
Ramit Tandon (IND) bt  Saurav Ghosal (IND) w/o
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt [9/16] Karim El Hammamy (EGY) 11-3, 11-1, 11-5 (26m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt [9/16] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) 11-3, 18-16, 8-11, 11-9 (67m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) 12-14, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8 (58m)
Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) bt  Nicolas Müller (SUI) 11-6, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7 (66m)
Ramit Tandon (IND) bt  Tom Richards (ENG) 11-7, 11-1, 11-2 (27m)
 Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt [9/16] Mohamed Reda (EGY) 11-1, 7-11, 11-3, 11-6 (43m)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt [9/16] Ben Coleman (ENG) 11-7, 11-5, 11-6 (34m)
[9/16] Karim El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Omar Mosaad (EGY) 11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 7-11, 11-5 (87m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt [9/16] Vikram Malhotra (IND) 11-9, 11-9, 11-5 (27m)
[9/16] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) bt  Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) 11-9, 14-12, 12-10 (43m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bye
Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) bt [9/16] Peter Creed (WAL) 11-8, 11-13, 11-8, 11-6 (47m)
Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) bt [9/16] Edmon Lopez (ESP) 11-7, 11-3, 11-4 (43m)
 Nicolas Müller (SUI) bye
 Tom Richards (ENG) bye
Ramit Tandon (IND) bt [9/16] Joshua Masters (ENG) 11-9, 11-6, 11-8 (36m)
[9/16] Mohamed Reda (EGY) bt Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) 8-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-9 (55m)
 Saurav Ghosal (IND) bye
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) bye
[9/16] Ben Coleman (ENG) bt Harinder Pal Sandhu (IND) 6-1 ret.
[9/16] Karim El Hammamy (EGY) bt [WC] Aditya Jagtap (IND) 8-11, 10-12, 11-7, 13-11, 11-8 (84m)
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) bye
 James Willstrop (ENG) bye
[9/16] Vikram Malhotra (IND) bt Mazen Gamal (EGY) 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-7 (45m)
[9/16] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) bt Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 9-11, 6-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-8 (55m)
 Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) bye
Pictures courtesy of NITESH SQUARE