Calf pull sidelines Darwish; Shabana captures second win of 2013
Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — In an anticlimactic end to a thrilling 2013 Motor City Open presented by the Suburban Collection, Egypt’s Amr Shabana engraved his name on the coveted MCO trophy after fellow Egyptian Karim Darwish retired midway through the second game of Tuesday’s final.
After beating World #21 Nicolas Mueller in the first round, World #25 Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the quarterfinals, and top-seeded World #5 Mohamed El Shorbagy in the semis, World #8 Shabana appeared set for his toughest challenge: World #6 and 2010 MCO winner Darwish in a championship match of two former World #1s.
But Shabana, who had dropped only one game in his first three matches at the host Birmingham Athletic Club, jumped out to an early 6-2 lead. After cutting the deficit to 4-6, Darwish tinned three of his next four shots as Shabana closed out Game One, 11-4, in just nine minutes. Darwish came out firing in Game Two, nabbing a quick 6-1 lead. But in the ensuing rally, he grabbed his calf in apparent discomfort. “It was very sore before the match. I thought when I warmed up it was going to get better, but after lunging a few times in the second game I think I pulled a calf muscle,” 31-year-old Darwish said afterwards. Read more →
Veterans dispatch youngsters El Shorbagy and Mosaad to reach final by James Hawkins
Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — In a clash of Egypt’s up-and-coming stars vs Egypt’s decorated veterans, youth gave way to experience in Monday’s semifinals at the Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection. World #8 Amr Shabana took out World #5 Mohamed El Shorbagy and World #6 Karim Darwish held off World #9 Omar Mosaad to set up a championship match between two former World #1s.
In the first semi at the host Birmingham Athletic Club, 33-year-old Shabana got off to a quick 7-2 start as 22-year-old El Shorbagy struggled to find his shot. But in the blink of an eye, El Shorbagy stormed back to take a 9-7 lead.
“When you think you’re cruising, that’s when you lose it,” 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.
Top-seed El Shorbagy made several unforced errors to drop Game Two, 11-5. He took Game Three as his shots finally began to find their mark, but then fell into a 6-1 hole in Game Four that he was never able to recover from as Shabana went on to win, 13-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-7. Read more →
El Shorbagy avenges 2012 loss to Ong Beng Hee; All-Egyptian semis set
By James Hawkins
Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — Coming into the 2013 Motor City Open presented by the Suburban Collection, top seed Mohamed El Shorbagy of Egypt knew there was a chance that he and his fellow seeded Egyptians could claim all four semifinal spots. After Sunday’s quarterfinals at the host Birmingham Athletic Club, that possibility became a reality.
For the first time in the MCO’s 14-year history, there will be a one-nationality semifinal round as El Shorbagy, Amr Shabana, Karim Darwish, and Omar Mosaad all advanced out of the quarterfinals.
“To have four Egyptians in the semis, you never know who’s going to win. When you play someone from the same country as yours, you have to completely forget about rankings because these matches are always different,” El Shorbagy said. “We all know each other really well and we’re all good friends.”
World #8 and fourth seed Shabana was the first to take a semis spot as he wasted no time upending World #25 Miguel Angel Rodriguez – 11-9, 11-7, 11-3 – in just 39 minutes.
“Rodriguez is one of the best athletes around. He moves very quickly and smoothly so I had to play smartly,” said Shabana, a four-time World Open Champ. Read more →
Defending champ Beng Hee survives
By James Hawkins
Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — Four former Motor City Open champions. A pair of former World #1s. Twelve of the world’s Top 25 squash players. Four of them in the Top 10. A historic field took to the courts Saturday in the First Round of the Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection. They didn’t disappoint.
In the day’s opening match at the host Birmingham Athletic Club, 2012 MCO winner Ong Beng Hee’s title defense looked to be in jeopardy as qualifier Ryan Cuskelly of Australia took Game One and was on the verge of commanding 2-0 lead in Game Two. But World #20 Beng Hee fought off four game balls and evened the match at 1-1. He took Game Three, then fended off three more game balls against to win Game Four and the match: 6-11, 14-12, 11-7, 12-10.
“Winning the second game changed the whole match,” Beng Hee said after the match. “I’m a little bit tense because it’s the first match of a very big tournament and I won it last year so the pressure is on. Ryan actually played really well and didn’t make many mistakes. It was just maybe my day today.”
In other matches, all four seeded Egyptians won convincingly in straight games. Read more →
Cuskelly beats Razik in epic 5-gamer
By James Hawkins
Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — Qualifiers Marwan El Shorbagy of Egypt, France’s Mathieu Castagnet, and Kuwaiti Abdullah Al Muzayen all stamped their tickets into the Main Draw Friday night at the Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection. But none of the three won their qualifying final in dramatic fashion quite like Aussie Ryan Cuskelly.
After dropping the first two games to veteran Canadian Shahier Razik, Cuskelly mounted an extraordinary comeback taking the next three games and prevailing: 9-11, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-2. The draining, two-hour, eight minute match at the Birmingham Athletic Club seemed like it would never end.
“Playing a player like Razik, he just gets so many balls back that you have to hit four or five winners just to win a rally. That’s his goal. Just to make the game as long as possible and frustrate you,” 25-year-old Cuskelly said. “I got sucked into his game the first two games instead of playing my game of attacking and getting to the ball faster.”
Cuskelly switched tactics and began picking up the pace in Game 3. The game became chippy as let after let was called with Cuskelly even suffering an inadvertent racquet to the mouth. Read more →
Razik Survives in Five, USA’s Gordon out
By James Hawkins
Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — Having traveled hundreds of miles from all corners of the globe to Michigan’s Birmingham Athletic Club, some of the world’s best squash players began their quest Thursday for the title of the Motor City Open presented by the Suburban Collection. At stake: a share of the record $70,000 purse and a Rolex watch courtesy of Greenstone’s Jewelers.
Qualifying play began Thursday in the Midwest’s largest squash tourney, with 14 pros battling it out for four spots in the main draw to be begin Saturday. And with the MCO boasting one of the most competitive and talented fields in its 14-year history, it didn’t take long for the action to heat up.
A week after losing to world #33 Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan of Malaysia in a grueling, two-hour, five-game, first round of qualifying match at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York, world #48 Siddharth Suchde of India returned the favor by sweeping Adnan, 14-12, 11-4, 11-8.
“It was nice to get revenge,” Suchde said afterwards. “It could’ve gone either way last week and I was a bit fortunate to win the first game. That was a massive boost and it got easier after that.”
Suchde focused on improving his weaknesses in their last encounter. Read more →
Four of the world’s top-10 squash professionals, as well as twelve of the top-25, will grace the courts of the Birmingham Athletic Club for next week’s Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection.
The 2013 installment of the MCO features the strongest field in the tournament’s 14 year history. With a $70,000 purse, it is the largest squash tournament in the Midwest.
The explosive action is set to get underway starting Thursday, January 24 with the Qualifying. Main Draw play kicks off on Saturday, January 26.
The star-studded field includes the past three MCO champions in Ong Beng Hee (2012), top seed Mohammed El Shorbagy (2011), and former world number one Karim Darwish (2010). They will face stiff competition from squash legend Amr Shabana, a four-time World Open Champion and former world number one, and Omar Mosaad, the number three seed.
Last year’s finalist, Hisham Ashour, is also back, and will be hoping to go one better this year. Also returning after strong showings in last year’s MCO are Alister Walker and Stephen Coppinger. Swiss Nicolas Mueller returns to the MCO after a one year absence that has seen his world ranking skyrocket to 21.
Rounding out the list of players exempt from Qualifying are India’s Saurav Ghosal, 2007 MCO Champion Olli Tuominen from Finland, and Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez. Read more →