• Motor City Quarters: Egyptians Rule

    El Shorbagy avenges 2012 loss to Ong Beng Hee; All-Egyptian semis set
    By James Hawkins

    El Shorbagy keeps his eye on the ball against Ong Beng Hee.

    El Shorbagy keeps his eye on the ball against Ong Beng Hee. (Motor City Open photo)

    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.

    The tee can get crowded.

    The tee can get crowded. Beng Hee gets around El Shorbagy. (Motor City Open photo)

    “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. “If he gets you moving around it makes the court feel very big and when you try to finish a ball off he comes so fast it makes the court very small. I just had to choose my moments and pace myself.”

    Shabana’s semis opponent will be El Shorbagy who avenged his loss in last year’s MCO semifinals to World #20 and reigning MCO champ Ong Beng Hee by rolling to a 5-11, 11-9, 11-6, 14-12 victory. El Shorbagy teetered on the brink of falling behind 0-2 to Beng Hee as he trailed 9-6 in Game Two, But was able to rattle off five-straight points and even the match at one-all.

    “It’s so hard to play Beng Hee in that bouncy court cause he keeps slowing down the pace. I found myself down, but I just had to keep digging in ’til he lost focus. That’s what happened in the second game and the match completely went my way after that,” said El Shorbagy who has reached the MCO semifinals all three years he has played here. The top seed added that he’s excited for the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with 33-year-old squash legend Shabana.

    “It’s good to be able to play Shabana one more time. He’s a player I won’t be playing that often since he only has a few years left in his career. But every time I play him I learn something new,” El Shorbagy said.

    Coppinger (right) went down in four to Darwish.

    Coppinger (right) went down in four to Darwish. (Motor City Open photo)

    In a David versus Goliath quarterfinal, World #9 and third seed Omar Mosaad (6’4”, 200 pounds) played a tight game to contain speedy World #22 Saurav Ghosal (5’6”, 145 pounds) and win in straight games: 11-6, 11-8, 11-8.

    Mosaad will face World #6 and second seed Karim Darwish, who disposed of World #23 Stephen Coppinger in the duo’s first career match-up: 11-5, 11-4, 6-11, 11-3.

    “It’s good and tough at the same time,” Mosaad said of having to play Darwish in the semifinal. “We train all the time together so we know the other player’s game. I’ll try to play well and hope I can win.”

    Semifinals begin Monday at 6 p.m.

    Sunday’s quarterfinal results:

    [1] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) def. Ong Beng Hee (MAS) 5-11, 11-9, 11-6, 14-12 (75m)
    [4] Amr Shabana (EGY) def. Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 11-6, 11-7, 11-3 (39m)
    [3] Omar Mosaad (EGY) def. Saurav Ghosal (IND) 11-6, 11-8, 11-8 (56m)
    [2] Karim Darwish (EGY) def. Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 11-5, 11-4, 6-11, 11-3 (53m)

    Monday’s semifinal matches:

    [1] Mohamed El Shorbagy vs. [4] Amr Shabana
    [2] Karim Darwish vs. [3] Omar Mosaad

    Coppinger (top) and Darwish stretched each other.

    Coppinger (top) and Darwish stretched each other all over the court. (Motor City Open)


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