Reigning men’s World Champion Tarek Momen overcame World No.11 Mohamed Abouelghar in a topsy turvy encounter inside Manchester’s National Squash Centre to earn his quarter-final berth.
Abouelghar suffered a disappointing 2019-20 season as he dropped out of the top 10 of the PSA Men’s World Rankings but he tested Momen throughout the encounter and took a one-game lead for the loss of five points in a comfortable beginning to the match.
Too many errors from Abouelghar saw him virtually throw away the second game as World No.4 Momen came back to level before the final two games were decided by the slimmest of margins.
Momen twice fought back from a game ball down in the third as he established a lead for the first time in the match and he held his nerve during the crucial points in the fourth to finally close out the win in 55 minutes.
"I played the big points well, and I held my nerve in a couple of very difficult situations!"— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) September 18, 2020
TkMomen</a> was happy with how he came through a tricky test against <a href="https://twitter.com/mabouelghar?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">mabouelghar#SquashIsBack #MCROpen #MCRactive pic.twitter.com/nrR0Rnwuf6
“I started the match really well in the first four or five points but then for some reason the nerves got to me and I couldn’t keep playing like that, I got very tense,” said Momen.
“I think that’s maybe because I haven’t been dealing with nerves for the past six months, so it’s something that I need to train on maybe and get used to again. Thankfully in the second game I managed to regroup and get over this nervousness. He also had an up and down performance, in the second game I didn’t think he played that well and I had a pretty big lead and won that game so easily.
“Up until the third game neither of us were playing well at the same time and then in that third game we played some really good rallies and I’m very pleased with that. In terms of my mental toughness, I felt like I was progressing throughout the match, I played the big points well and I held my nerve in a couple of very difficult situations in the third and fourth game, so there is a lot to be pleased with.
This is the first tournament following the surprise summer retirement of Momen’s wife, former World No.1 Raneem El Welily, and Momen admits he is having to adapt to no longer having her with him on tour.
“It is strange but maybe the fact that we all have to stay in single rooms makes it a bit easier,” the 32-year-old said.
“I definitely miss having her with me at tournaments and I have to get used to it because it’s going to be the case from now on but we’re super excited about our next phase. We’re expecting a baby and it’s something that we’ve been hoping for for a long time, so I’m more excited to go back and see her after every tournament, so it is fun.”
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt  Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 3-1: 5-11, 11-5, 13-11, 11-9 (55m)