Doha, Qatar: Qatari Abdulla Al Tamimi came close to another stunning victory, but could not maintain his momentum till the end to go down fighting to No.2 seed Tarek Momen in the PSA Men’s World Championship in Doha, Qatar, on Monday.
Al Tamimi has been one of the surprise packages of the tournament, beating French duo Gregoire Marche and Mathieu Castagnet and looked on course for a famous win as he took a 2-1 lead against the 2018-19 World Championship runner-up.
Roared on by the home support, Al Tamimi played some breathtaking squash at times to overturn a one-game deficit, before going 6-3 up in the fourth to put himself within touching distance of a massive upset. But he was unable to capitalise as Momen refocused to draw level, before the Egyptian held his opponent off in the decider to win 11-5, 10-12, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4 and book his spot in the last eight.
Meanwhile, 36-year-old former World No.1 James Willstrop rolled back the years as he put in a spellbinding performance against the in-form World No.4 Karim Abdel Gawad to book his place in the quarterfinals.
Willstrop, a World Championship runner-up in 2010, has taken a short break from the sport in recent weeks to star in a production of ‘Hangmen’ in his native Yorkshire – and his fixture with 2016 World Champion Gawad yielded the kind of drama that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a theatre.
He played with precision and freedom in a supremely accurate display that saw him win two of the first three games on offer against an opponent who captured a PSA Platinum title in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza just two weeks ago with victory over World No.1 Ali Farag in the CIB Egyptian Squash Open title decider.
The crowd were on tenterhooks in the fourth as Willstrop and Gawad went toe-to-toe in a gripping contest, with the former squandering two match balls as Gawad came back to force a tie-break. But the Englishman wasn’t to be denied as his next match ball was met with a tinned drop from Gawad, sending Willstrop through to an 11th World Championship quarter-final.
The Commonwealth Games gold medallist will play World No.6 Simon Rösner for a place in the semi-finals of the biggest tournament on the men’s tour. The German put in arguably his best performance of the season to take out World No.12 Joel Makin by an 11-8, 11-8, 11-5 margin.
Peru have a player in the quarter-finals for the first time as World No.7 Diego Elias came back from a game down to beat Egypt’s Fares Dessouky to set up a quarter-final clash with Momen.
Elias and Dessouky have had some fractious matches in the past – not least a highly-charged affair during the quarter-finals of the 2017 El Gouna International – but there were less fireworks this time around as both players kept their composure in a clean contest. Elias fell a game behind but the 22-year-old outplayed Dessouky and displayed superior racket skills in the final three games to book his place in the next round.