Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-2  Tarek Momen (Egy) 11-8, 13-11, 10-12, 2-11, 11-9 (122m)
Oh boy. This is one of the reports I really don’t want to write, and it’s 1.14am when I start it. I needed a huge cup of tea, three scoops of icecream before even contemplating writing. More tea will be needed I’m pretty sure before I finish it.
I don’t like being negative, especially as I love Paul Coll to bits, I really do, I admire and respect him so much for what he has achieved, and I feel terrible writing something that will question his win. And I have absolutely nothing against the two officials, who are doing their job for very little reward – to say the least – but who in my opinion, tonight, didn’t get it right.
If the PSA stats give a 8/5 wins for Paul/Tarek, the PSA/non PSA gets to 8/7, but both show the same fact: Paul had won the last 5 matches, their last one in Chicago, in 5, 89m. And I’m sure you didn’t forget that Tarek won his World title against Paul in Qatar.
First game was a typical Tarek start, both brilliance and tins galore. Between the unforced errors (6) and the strokes given away, he offered Paul 8 points on a platter. Paul only lost 2. Up 7/3, Tarek looked pretty good, but just incredible rallies after incredible rallies, gruelling, both working the other one out, but at the pace they were both comfortable in, mid pace, to slow pace.
Some calls started to creep in, where I was writing that I didn’t agree with, like a stroke for Paul, overturned let which I thought was a no let, rally for which Paul eventually got a stroke that got him level at 8/8. Crucial time, that.
Two errors from Tarek, huge rallies again, ball goes out of court 11/8 to Paul, 27m.
The second sees Tarek still extremely positive, making Paul do a huge amount of work, relentlessly attacking with his delicate lob drop shots, despite very warm court conditions.
And if Paul has a slight advantage at the start of the game, they are soon level: 5/5, 6/6, 7/7, 8/8. The rallies are as lunatically hard than in the first game, and Tarek gets two game balls, 10/8.
A no let turned as a let for Paul, and a let that should/could have been a stroke for Tarek, ending in the tin, one game ball gone. And even better, at that point 9-10, a no let for Paul turning into a stroke in his favour. That’s 10/10. A few calls there again, confirmed or overturn, and Paul gets the game on his first attempt, 13/11.
Tarek still gave away 6 points in that one, 3 unforced errors, 3 strokes but Paul gives away 4. We are getting closer… Oh, length of the game, 32m.
The third one itself is a classic. How many players do you know who go down 2/0 against world number One Paul Coll on a warm court and think yes, I can win that. Tarek does.
He goes into Momenator mode, and both are playing just superb squash again, and again. Tarek throwing everything at Paul, and Superman weathering the Tarek’s storm. It’s pure joy, it’s squash to its finest, no blocking, no cheating, just pure adrenalin, skills, fitness, chess building rallies. More of those please.
1/1, 2/2, 4/4, 5/5, 7/7. 8/8. The following rallies are just surreal of intensity. I keep saying that the match should be a final. Not a quarter. I have to keep reminding myself to breathe. 8/8, two huge rallies, ending in two errors but can we really call them UNFORCED? With the pressure Paul is putting on his opponent, Tarek has got to go lower, and lower close to the tin – especially when Paul dives for it!
10/8. Match ball. The crowd is 200% behind their man. Two backhand drive that die in the nick, perfect length, and it’s 10/10. And as he scores 4 points in a row, the crowd roars and chants Tarek’s name as he walks off court, 12/10 in 27m.
Paul didn’t make a single error in that game. Incredible squash. But the Kiwi pays the price for the hard work done, and those wasted two match ball, it’s a mental fatigue probably more than physical, while the Momenator is controlling the game throughout, 8/0, 11/2 in 7m.
And to be fair, there are in my opinion some bad calls for both at that point. It usually works out…
We start the fifth. Tarek is playing the same poised, calm, intense squash, and Paul seems to have found his second win. Excellent start for the Kiwi, 3/0, 4/1. Tarek is still positive in his posture, body language. and it pays off: 4/4. 5/5.
Paul takes the lead, 7/5 and is awarded a stroke by the video ref. We are myself, a tournament ref, a former world number one/world champion, and a PSA board member. We all look at each other. No let is our conclusion But what do we know?
8/5 then. Tarek is still fighting, 6/8. 7/8. A superb winner for Paul, 9/7. Another video decision, no let against Tarek. The four of us go whaaaaat? For us it’s a stroke.
Never mind feels Tarek, who keeps positive and fighting from 10/7 down match ball. 8/10 match ball. 9/10 match ball. A no let for Paul – which we all thought was a no let – was overturned into a let so it was still match ball, and the match ended on the next rally with a stroke to Paul that we thought harsh, but Tarek cannot appeal as he had lost his review. 18m game.
Tarek on FB
مقدرش اقول حاجة غير انى فخور بماتش النهارده !
مش عايز اتكلم عن التحكيم عشان ده مش هيغير حاجة من ال حصل، بس أنا مقتنع انى لعبت ماتش عمرى النهارده، عشان على عكس توقعات معظم الناس ال كانوا شايفين انى معنديش فرصة نهائى اكسب النهارده، أنا كنت شايف انى اقدر اكسب مش بس النهارده لا البطولة كلها وعملت كل ال اقدر عليه انى اثبت ده لنفسى قبل اى حد تانى.
والنتيجة انى الحمد لله عرفت ارجع من ٠/٢ فى الاشواط ونقطتين مباراة فى التالت مع اكتر لاعب fit فى العالم والمصنف الأول على العالم. مش بس كده وكمان ماتش ساعتين فى واحد من احر الايام ال نظرياً خلت ظروف الملعب مش فى صالحى تماماً.
ناس كتيرة خرجتنى برة دايرة المنافسة تماماً لمجرد ان شوية نتايج مكانتش ظابطة او عشان بقيت ٣٤ سنة او او او، كلها اسباب انا رافض اقبلها وقعدت ال ٦ اسابيع الفاتو بجهز نفسى بس عشان اثبت خطأ النظريات دى (وبردو لنفسى قبل اى حد).
نفس السيناريو ده كان حاصل معايا زمان، ونفس الكلام كان بيتقال قبل ما اعمل الطفرة ال وصلتنى الحمد لله للقب بطولة العالم والتصنيف التالت لكذا سنة ورا بعض.
زعلان جداً انى معرفتش اكمل ال بدأته خصوصاً بعد ماتشين تقال زى ماكين و كول، كان نفسى اشوف انا اقدر اوصل لحد فين بعد ما اتعلمت ازاى اعافر فى ظروف انا مش متعود العب فيها وأقنع نفسى ان مفيش اى ظرف هيكون حجة انى ملعبش كويس واطلع كل ال عندى.
لكن قدر الله وما شاء فعل واكيد بإذن الله ربنا مش هيضيع مجهودى ده من غير ما تتعوض فى حاجة احسن.
وأخيراً، و ده السبب الأساسى للبوست ده، بجد بشكر كل واحد كان موجود وبيشجعنى النهاردة، انتوا بجد فرحتونى و والله وانا خسران فى تالت جيم كل تفكيرى كان انى عايز العب قدامكم اشواط اكتر من ٣ بس حتى لو كانوا فى ساعة ونص، وتشجيعكم ليا خلانى عايز احول الخسارة دى لمكسب مهما كان شكل الموضوع صعب، والحمد لله ساعدتونى على ده وخلتونى اكتشف حاجات عن نفسى ماكنتش شوفتها قبل كده
بشكركم وبحبكم ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
“It was a tough match, it’s very hot out here and he was taking me into all corners of the court and wasn’t missing. I’m just very happy to claw my way out of that one! Apologies for making everyone run late, but that’s squash! It’s the battles, that’s what we come here for, it’s what we love. So cheers for the boos, I really appreciate it!
“Tarek can make you do so much work. He’s got the softest touch in the world and if he’s not missing, then you just end up going into all four corners of the court. It’s absolutely brutal. If he’s on his day, he’s one of the hardest players in the world. He makes you do a tremendous amount of work, just due to his great hands and his soft touches.”
“It’s tough to back up two-hour matches but I do two-and-a-half-hour practice sessions at home. I’ve got my physio here, who’s the best in the world. I’ve got a recovery day tomorrow and will get myself sorted and come out firing for the semi finals. It’s not ideal, but I’m going to bounce back for sure.