• Shabana and Darwish in Motown showdown

    Veterans dispatch youngsters El Shorbagy and Mosaad to reach final
    by James Hawkins

    Shabana put on a squash ballet in the first semi.

    Shabana put on a squash ballet in the first semi (Motor City Open photo).

    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.

    The veteran shadows the rising star.

    The veteran Shabana shadows the rising star El Shorbagy (Motor City Open photo).

    “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.

    “Every time we play, regardless of the score, it’s always a tip-toe game,” said Shabana, who improved to 9-0 versus El Shorbagy in his career. “Right now, I might have a slight advantage but Mohamed is still young and he’s going to catch up sooner or later.”

    Darwish stretches for a forehand.

    Darwish stretches for a forehand against Mosaad (Motor City Open photo).

    Making his first return to the MCO after mowing down the competition in 2010, 31-year-old Darwish advanced to his second MCO final after ousting 24-year-old Omar Mosaad in a physical – and often chippy – match.

    In Game One, Darwish benefited after a pair of crucial mistakes by his larger opponent. Leading 12-11 with game ball, Mosaad hit back-to-back shots into the bottom of the tin before Darwish hit a forehand nick shot winner to seal it, 14-12.Mosaad bounced back in Games Two and Three, taking both 11-8. Despite being down 1-2, Darwish stuck to his game plan and stretched the floor, relentlessly pounding balls into the back corners and softly flicking balls into the front corners to win Game Four, 11-6 – and tie the match at two-all.

    Darwish and Mosaad tangle. . . again.

    Darwish and Mosaad tangled all match long (Motor City Open photo).

    Darwish cruised in Game Five as fatigue became a factor and Mosaad made five unforced errors to drop the match, 14-12, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5.

    “It’s always a physical match against Omar. He’s a big guy and it’s hard to pass him because he takes the ball early,” Darwish said. “But I tried to pass as much as I can and I think the last two games he lost a little bit of energy.”

    Shabana and Darwish will face each another for the 21st time. The duo most recently met in the final of the 2010 Qatar Classic with Darwish prevailing 8-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-6.

    “Shabana is a great player. I think people will enjoy tomorrow,” Darwish said.

    The championship match will start at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

    Monday’s semifinal results:

    • [4] Amr Shabana (EGY) def. [1] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) 13-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-7 (65m)
    • [2] Karim Darwish (EGY) def. [3] Omar Mosaad (EGY) 14-12, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5 (97m)

    Tuesday’s final:

    • [2] Karim Darwish vs. [4] Amr Shabana

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