Top seed Tarek Momen steps up a gear as big guns all win in straight games
By TOM BEDORE – Squash Mad Correspondent in Edmonton, Alberta
The top four seeds advanced to the semi-finals without dropping a game at the Royal Glenora Club tonight at the 2014 ReidBuilt Homes Edmonton Open.
Tarek Momen defeated Eddie Charlton 3-0:
After being down two games to one the night before against Diego Elias, Tarek Momen seemed determined to not put himself in any danger of being eliminated prematurely from the ReidBuilt Homes Edmonton Open.
He dispatched Eddie Charlton in three straight games but it wasn’t easy. Momen started strong in game 1 with his trademark collection of boasts and smashes to the front corner to jump out to a 4-0 lead. Charlton started to read him better and won the next three points.
The Egyptians are famous for their tricky shots up front, but Momen has the ability to hit dying length which won him a couple of points in the middle part of the first game. He just needed one game ball to win the first game 11-6.
Even when Charlton seemed to have a chance to put pressure on Momen, the speed of the Egyptian got him back into the match. After an extremely long rally with very high quality shots won by Momen, he indicated a broken string. Charlton took advantage of Momen’s new racket and won the next four points. Unfortunately for Charlton, on the next rally, he hit a lob that just barely hit the line to give Momen a game ball.
This time Charlton would not give in and fought back to tie it at 10-10. He started moving Momen and won his first game ball. He lost his chance to win the game when he was given a no-let. Both players hit a couple of tins as they tried to force the win. After a couple of lets called, Momen hit a cross-court into the back-wall nick. After another let call, Momen worked Charlton into the back corner & hit a perfect drop-shot into the front left corner nick to win the game 14-12.
Charlton was obviously frustrated to lose game two after squandering a game ball and never came off court between games. He did get the lead briefly at the start of the third but then Momen took over and won 11-5 and the match in three straight games.
Adrian Waller defeated Rex Hedrick 3-0:
Viewing from outside the court, you would guess this was a mis-match with the giant Adrian Waller (right) up against the diminutive Rex Hedrick. At times Waller didn’t seem to have to leave the T as his huge wingspan was able to cut off most shots from the speedy Australian Hedrick.
For a big man, Waller moves very well. But Hedrick had a game plan that started working for him. Hit good length and force the Englishman off the T. Hedrick led throughout the early part of the first game. At 6-6, Waller was finally able to get the lead with a couple of unforced errors from Hedrick and a nice mix of drops and dying length to give him his first game ball at 10-6. Waller made no mistake with his game ball. He hit a drop shot into the front right corner that was glued to the side wall and left nothing for Hedrick to return.
Whenever Hedrick was caught behind the big lefthander it was extremely difficult to see what was coming. After a series of let calls in which Hedrick couldn’t get through Waller to the ball, Waller rolled off five straight points to lead 5-1.
Whenever Hedrick hit anything slightly loose in the back corner, Waller made him pay. At 7-4 Hedrick collided with Waller and appeared in some discomfort. He asked for a let and didn’t get it. Hedrick’s Canadian supporters provided some vocal support and it may have worked as he tied the score at 8-8 with some dying length shots.
Waller hit a couple of unforced errors to give Hedrick his first game ball. He couldn’t convert but Waller made no mistake when he got his chance. He ran Hedrick ragged from side-to-side until eventually Hedrick couldn’t reach the ball, giving Waller the second game in an extra point.
Hedrick showed a lot of grit at the start of game three. He really picked up the tempo right from the start & jumped out to a 5-1 lead. But then Waller came right back using straight length to send Hedrick to the back corner followed up by well-executed drop shots.
Waller continued to send Hedrick flying around the court but Hedrick would not give in despite being stretched to the limit. With a match ball, Waller hit a loose ball and Hedrick got the stroke. At 10-10, Waller got a let ball after breaking his string.
On the next rally, Hedrick went flying through the air after tripping over Waller. He got a let call. Waller made no mistake when he got his match ball but full marks to the very gutsy Rex Hedrick, who showed amazing resilience throughout the match.
Nicolas Mueller defeats Tom Richards 3-0:
Both Mueller and Richards play textbook squash. This game was a beautiful exhibition of how the game of squash is supposed to be played. Mueller won the match in three straight games in 43 minutes but it was intense squash played at the highest level.
These two players move so efficiently around the court, it’s like watching a mirror image. Although Richards has spent time at #12 in the world, it was Mueller who was able to apply the most pressure as game one wore on.
At 7-2, it looked like Mueller would coast to a quick victory in the first game but after an incredibly long rally, Richards came out on top with a brilliant drop shot. Mueller then went ahead 10-5 with dying length to the back corner and made no mistake on his first game ball.
These two players are a great example of fair play and as Nicolas said after the match, he felt: “that’s how squash should be played. Play tough and hard but always be fair.” That’s how he plays the game as he’s been inspired by his countryman Roger Federer.
At 6-6 in the second game, a 55-shot rally won by Mueller may have taken too much out of Richards.
He continued to play brilliantly but the deft hands of Mueller sending him to every corner of the court eventually wore him down. His frustration at the end of it was very evident. Visibly distressed at dropping the second game, Richards came out strong and jumped out to a 5-1 lead in game 3. At 10-10, Richards made an amazing get in the back court.
Both players somehow summoned themselves onto a higher level as they fought to win the third game in extra points. The packed house at the Royal Glenora was on their feet for most of the last 10 minutes of the game realizing they were witnessing something very special in these two players when finally Mueller cemented the victory with a 15-13 win of game three.
Simon Rosner defeated Henrik Mustonen 3-0:
Henrik Mustonen had looked very fit and strong in his opening match Thursday night but Germany’s Simon Rosner would give him little chance to advance to the semi-finals.
The Finn was not intimidated by the big German but eventually the pace generated by Rosner, who is one of the hardest hitters in the game, was just too much for him. In addition to his pace, Rosner has great anticipation and started controlling the rallies and keeping the Finn off balance.
At 8-3, it looked like Rosner would run away with it but the Finn came back with a couple of winners. But again Rosner upped the pressure and made no mistake on his first game ball, forcing Mustonen to barely hang on until Rosner finally hit the winner.
Rosner continued his relentless pressure, jumping out to a 6-1 lead in the second game. Mustonen was able to hit some beautiful drop shots, plus a Philadelphia, but nothing seemed to give him any sustained opportunity.
The Finn was game to go but Rosner jerked him around the court so much, the end was inevitable.
Rosner wins it in three and advances to the semi-finals to play his training partner Nicolas Mueller Saturday night.
ReidBuilt Homes Edmonton Open (Quarter-Finals):
Thursday, November 27, 2014:
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Eddie Charlton (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 14-12, 11-5 [42 m]
 Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Rex Hedrick (AUS) 3-0: 11-6, 12-10, 12-10 [57 m]
 Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt  Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 15-13 [43 m]
 Simon Rosner (GER) bt (6) Henrik Mustonen (FIN) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 [31 m]
7pm Start:  Tarok Momen (EGY) vs  Adrian Waller (ENG)
8pm Start: Simon Rosner (GER) vs  Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Pictures by JOSEPH MANN