World Champion Tarek Momen had to draw on all his mental reserves to avoid falling to a shock defeat against 37-year-old Borja Golan to book his place in the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family semi-finals.
World No.33 Golan was a surprise quarter-finalist but gave Momen a run for his money, with a scintillating performance from the Spaniard seeing him take the World No.3 to five games against the odds.
He was appearing in his first PSA Platinum quarter-final since the 2017 Windy City Open and rolled back the years as he twice fought back from a game down with comprehensive victories in the second and fourth games.
At the end of the third, Momen was vocal with his frustration with the quality of ball used during the match, and his focus looked to be dipping in and out throughout that fourth game.
But a clinical showing from Momen was enough to get the win over the line though in the decider, as he finally saw off the gutsy ‘El Toro’ courtesy of an 11-7, 3-11, 11-6, 4-11, 11-3 victory. He will see him take on World No.2 Ali Farag for a second successive event after beating him at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions.
"OH MY GOSH! You are looking at 37 years of age here!"
golansquash</a> is taking it to the World Champion here, despite having just celebrated his 37th birthday!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WCOsquash?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WCOsquash</a> <a href="https://t.co/39QUW91WRM">pic.twitter.com/39QUW91WRM</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) March 2, 2020
“Borja loves Chicago, he’s had some incredible performances here,” said Momen.
“Today was unreal, the gets he was getting, the physicality he was showing on court, it doesn’t show that he is 37, he could play for three or four more years. He played a very good match and I’m very happy to get through in five.
“Ever since we got here, in practise every morning the balls were all fliers like this. I was a bit concerned that it might be something up with the court, but then I thought that it was the same court and same conditions, so it can’t be the court.
“When I played my first match it was completely different, I had a decent bouncing ball, and it was the same in the second match. I was surprised to get one of those [fast balls] in my match today. I hope it gets sorted but it can affect the rhythm of the game.
“At the end of the day, I think we played a very decent match and we had to adapt to the conditions. It was new for us, but I didn’t change it at the end of the third, because I thought I might get an even faster ball. Usually in a box all the balls are the same, so if he [the referee] gave me one from the same box then it would be just as fast.”
Momen lost to Farag in the final of the 2018-19 PSA World Championship when it was held in Chicago last year but, after claiming that honour for himself in Qatar in November, the 33-year-old is hoping that he can overtake his compatriot in the PSA World Rankings in the coming months.
He said: “I’ve had several wins against both of them [Mohamed ElShorbagy and Farag], they’ve beaten me also, and Karim Gawad is in the mix too. Mohamed and Ali have been a bit more consistent than the rest of us but I’m trying to catch up.”
“I’m getting some good wins now and I’m hoping to start to replace both of them [at the top].”
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-2: 11-7, 3-11, 11-6, 4-11, 11-3 (60m)