A sublime performance from World No.2 Ali Farag has sent the Egyptian through to his first ever final at the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family after overcoming World Champion Tarek Momen in a repeat of their 2018-19 PSA World Championship final clash in Chicago 12 months ago.
Momen has since gone on to win the 2019-20 World Championship crown, and he boasted the most recent win between the pair on the PSA World Tour, but nine unforced errors during the first game set him on course to a 3-0 defeat.
The current World Champion
TkMomen</a> and his predecessor, <a href="https://twitter.com/AliFarag?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">AliFarag, are putting on a show in the first men's semi final at the
ChicagoSquash</a><br><br>The two are playing at a ferocious pace<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WCOsquash?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WCOsquash</a> <a href="https://t.co/IFNSospnrw">pic.twitter.com/IFNSospnrw</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) March 4, 2020
Appearing at his first tournament since relinquishing the World No.1 ranking, Farag looks to be back playing his best squash after storming to an 11-2 victory in the second game and taking a 5-1 lead in the third.
At that point, Momen sparked up and had his best spell of the match as the Egyptian finally found the front corners rather than the tin and he pulled the game back to seven points apiece.
Farag, though, wasn’t to be denied as he took three of the next four points on offer to earn his place in his fifth PSA World Tour final of the season.
“I keep surprising myself day after day,” said Farag afterwards.
“I came here with expectations of course, I don’t like the words ‘no expectations’, obviously I want to come and win it, but I don’t know where I stand. The [Egyptian] Nationals were a good test, but then I was looking forward to competing with those guys again and performing at my best.
“I wasn’t sure whether they would outsmart me, be fitter than me, I didn’t know anything. I keep playing better day after day, with different tactics of course, and I’ve always got Nour [wife, El Tayeb] giving me the best tips between games.
“The first game was a bit weird, neither Tarek or I did that well at the beginning, and then Nour gave me a couple of tips in between and they served me well up until the middle of the third, and then I saw the finishing line way too soon.
“I saw Tarek loosening up a little, so I’m very happy to get back in it for sure.”
Farag and Momen – in addition to World No.4 Karim Abdel Gawad – are located in Cairo, and Farag said that practice matches between the pair are a regular occurrence in the off season.
“This match happens almost every week, not during the season,” Farag said.
“Whenever we’re home and we’ve only got a week or 10 days, we don’t want to do very tough practice matches, but when we’ve got a big block between tournaments we do play with each other a lot.
“We know each other’s games and characters, which helps you to read your opponent on court, but it works the other way around as well. The beauty of our sport back home is that all of us are situated in a 40-mile radius and we get to play against each other all the time.”
Following World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy’s social media comments earlier today that it would be a ‘miracle’ to hold onto top spot following disciplinary action taken against him by the PSA, Farag – the PSA Men’s President – gave his thoughts on the matter.
“I’m involved as a fan, as an opponent, as Mohamed’s friend, as everything,” Farag said.
“From all different aspects I am involved. It’s a very tough situation he is in, it’s unfortunate that he can’t play the tournaments in Egypt. It’s not good for the sport, it’s not good for him, it’s out of everyone’s hands, we wish he could because if any of us want to chase that World No.1 spot, we want to earn it, rather than someone lose it.
“It’s unfortunate and I hope he resolves the issue as soon as possible.”
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-0: 12-10, 11-2, 11-8 (37m)