All Egyptian semifinal Monday; Pilley/Barker vie for first MCO finals berth
By James Hawkins
Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — Egypt will again be well represented in the semifinals of the 2014 Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection.
One year after an All-Egyptian semifinal, top seed Mohamed Elshorbagy and defending champion Amr Shabana claimed two of the four spots in the semis after advancing through Sunday’s quarterfinals. Elshorbagy was first to take his place, ousting qualifier Olli Tuominen of Finland in straight games (11-9, 11-8, 11-7) to reach the semis for the fourth year in a row at the host Birmingham Athletic Club.
Tuominen looked to be riding the momentum from yesterday’s five-game upset of Egyptian World #12 Tarek Momen and was on the verge of taking Game One at 9-7, but Elshorbagy stormed back with four straight points to steal it. Tuominen would never get any closer as Elshorbagy jumped out to a 6-2 lead in Game Two and a 4-1 lead in Game Three, winning both.
“I just tried to play my game, focus and I did that well. The first game was crucial. When he was 9-7 up, I was able to come back and level it at 9 and that gave me the edge to continue after. Olli looked a bit tired after that game because of his hard match yesterday,” Elshorbagy said. “I’m really happy to be back here, playing well again and to be living for another day.”
Shabana (World #9) ground out a sweep over another fellow Egyptian, World #10 Omar Mosaad: 11-7, 11-9, 12-10.
“I didn’t get the easiest draw coming to Detroit but sometimes you get the easiest draw and you blow it. You just have to keep your head down and dig and that’s what I did today,” Shabana said. “I’m lucky that Omar had a 90-minute match against (Ong) Beng Hee that went to five yesterday, so Beng Hee softened him up a bit and I took full advantage of that.”
Yet it doesn’t get any easier for World #9 Shabana as he will square off against a third Egyptian, Elshorbagy, in a rematch of last year’s semifinal showdown.
“(Elshorbagy) is the World #4 so I gotta play my best tomorrow. He’s had one more day of rest than me, but you throw all this out the window as soon as you step in the court. We’ll see how it goes,” Shabana said.
On the other side of the bracket, Egypt’s bid for a third semifinal spot was denied by Aussie World #14 Cameron Pilley, who upset second seed and World #6 Karim Darwish in four games: 11-3, 14-16, 12-10, 11-6. For Pilley, it was his first win over Darwish in PSA Tour play after entering the match 0-9.
“I’m so happy to get that one next to my name. It’s huge,” Pilley said.
Coming into the match, Pilley said he wanted to jump out to quick leads in each game and his slick shooting and deft touch allowed him to do just that. In Game One, he roared to a 4-1 lead before cruising to a 11-3 decision.
Pilley managed to jump out to another quick lead in Game Two at 3-1 – building to 8-4. But Darwish closed the gap and eventually fended off five game balls to even the match at 1-all.
“Mentally for both of us it was a big game. For me to take a 2-0 lead would’ve been huge and he knew that. We both gave it everything in that second game,” Pilley said. “But I knew he wasn’t as fit as he has been in the past so I knew if i could get off to a good start in the third game and just try and make it really tough, I might get a few cheap points at some stage.”
In Game Three, Pilley fell behind early but the cheap points started coming as a few unforced errors by Darwish allowed him to take a 6-4 lead. Pilley was able to take a 10-8 edge until Darwish was able to fight off two more game balls.
“Darwish made two unbelievable shots to go from 10-8 to 10-all,” Pilley said. “I knew I had to tighten up, go straight down the walls and not give him any angles because when Darwish has an angle to work with, it can be brutal.”
Pilley was able to avoid another devastating letdown by rattling off the next two points to take the game and command of the match.
“He was more focused and his shots were better than mine. The third game was very crucial and it was anyone’s game but he managed to take it and was in control of the match after that,” Darwish said.
Pilley will face third seed and World #8 Peter Barker of England — who beat Colombian World #13 Miguel Angel Rodriguez in four games — in the other semifinal.
The semifinals will start Monday at 6 p.m.
Sunday’s quarterfinals results:
-  Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) def. [Q] Olli Tuominen (FIN) 11-9, 11-8, 11-7 (42m)
-  Amr Shabana (EGY) def.  Omar Mosaad (EGY) 11-7, 11-9, 12-10 (53m)
-  Peter Barker (ENG) def.  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 11-7, 11-6, 5-11, 11-7 (71m)
-  Cameron Pilley (AUS) def.  Karim Darwish (EGY) 11-3, 14-16, 12-10, 11-6 (75m)
-  Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) vs  Amr Shabana (EGY)
-  Peter Barker (ENG) vs  Cameron Pilley (AUS)