MCO quarters: Grant survives another 5-set marathon
Englishman will face Mosaad; Vet Palmer vs. young gun Shorbagy in other semi
Marathon man Adrian Grant scraped past Kemp. (Birmingham Athletic Club photo)
Bloomfield Hills, Mich. – England’s Adrian Grant has a knack for playing emotional, physically grueling, marathon matches at the Birmingham Athletic Club.
In the 2009 Motor City Open final, he suffered a deep scrape to his knee and took a racquet to the shoulder before falling to Spain’s Borja Golan in four games. This year – 24 hours after outlasting Mohd Ali Anwar Reda in a two-and-a-half hour, five-game thriller – World #17 Grant was taken to the limit again by fellow Englishman, Jonathon Kemp. Grant came from behind to win in the quarterfinals of the 12th annual Open presented by the Suburban Collection.
The favorites all advanced Saturday with veteran Englishman David Palmer and Egyptian youngsters Mohamed El Shorbagy and Omar Mosaad joining Grant in the semis. But none of the other semifinalists have had a match as physically taxing match as Grant’s – let alone two of them in two days.
Grant – in only his second tournament back since suffering a five-centimeter tear hip tear that sidelined him for three months – acknowledged he’s only at about 80 percent fitness. He’s still working off the rust. He entered the MCO as the four seed, without any expectations other than playing himself back into form.
“I’m really lacking the games and the sharpness, so to go through something like this is a good tester for me,” Grant said of his battle with Kemp. “I’m coming into this tournament not hoping anything. Obviously I want to win, but I’m just glad on the court.”
“I played the Tournament of Champions before this in New York,” he continued, “and that was my first match in three months. And I was lost! I was so bad and off the pace. I’m training hard, but I wasn’t match fit. So, now that I’m getting matches day in and day out, that’s what I need, and that’s what I’ve come for.”
His 3-2 (5-11, 16-14, 4-11, 11-5, 11-9) victory over Kemp – and his aggressive play on the court – showed his recovery might be further along than expected.
“(Kemp) had some tactics to try to slow the game down, which worked pretty well because it stopped me from attacking,” Grant said. “I think at the end it was just pure guts and determination. Sometimes you’ve got to win ugly, and that’s what I’ve done. But I know I’m still coming up to my best and I’m still looking forward to that.”
Grant’s opponent in Sunday’s semi, World #15 Omar Mosaad, defeated the surprise Englishman, Tom Richards, who was looking for another upset after ousting top-seed Laurens Jan Anjema in Round One. Mosaad jumped out to early leads in each game forcing Richards to play catch-up. The big Egyptian eventually won in four: 7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5.
“I went up 6-1, then lost my concentration and he started to play well,” Mosaad said of his recovery from Game One. “So, I changed my tactic, started to take more volleys, change the pace, and I started to play well.”
“Every game – every game – was a bad start, and you can’t give somebody who’s as much quality as him a start like that,” Richards, World #30, reflected afterwards. “I was moving him around well, I thought he was pretty tired. It’s quite disappointing – I’d like to be able to go play those points again and just push him.”
An imperious David Palmer (front) ended the run of qualifier Clyne. (Birmingham Athletic Club photo)
The other semi will pit Aussie David Palmer, a former World #1 and 2000 MCO winner, against Egyptian World #9 Mohamed El Shorbagy. At 34, Palmer is in the twilight of a great career, while the 20-year old Shorbagy is on the cusp of greatness. The rangy Egyptian won after fellow Egyptian Tarek Momen retired due to injury at the start of the third game. Palmer had little problem with qualifier Alan Clyne, World #51, as he cruised in three: 11-3, 11-9, 11-4.
“I’m happy to win,” Palmer said. “This is the first time I’ve played him. He’s tough, he’s very fit, one of the fastest guys around the court. I thought I played pretty good, except for maybe a lapse in the second. I knew I really had to focus in the third game.
Of his semifinal match against the up-and-coming Shorbagy, Palmer said “it’ll be a new experience. I’ve seen him play. He’s very good – like all Egyptians. He’s got great shots, he’s very fast, tall. He’s gonna be a handful, that’s for sure.”
It should be a dandy.
Sunday’s first semifinal begins at 4 PM, with both matches taking place on Court 3.
- Omar Mosaad def. Tom Richards, 3-1 (7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5)
-  Mohamed El Shorbagy def. Tarek Momen, 3-0 (11-4, 11-5, retired)
-  David Palmer def. Alan Clyne, 3-0 (11-3, 11-9, 11-4)
-  Adrian Grant def. Jonathon Kemp, 3-2 (5-11, 16-14, 4-11, 11-5, 11-9)
Semifinal matches, Sunday:
-  Adrian Grant v. Omar Mosaad, 4:00 PM
-  Mohamed El Shorbagy v.  David Palmer, 5:00 PM