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Motor City Open 2013
24-29 Jan, Detroit, $70k

29-Jan, Final

[4] Amr Shabana 1/0 [2] Karim Darwish    11/4, 2/6 rtd (26m)

Darwish injury gives Shabana Motor City title
James Hawkins reports

In an anticlimactic end to a thrilling 2013 Motor City Open presented by the Suburban Collection, Egypt’s Amr Shabana engraved his name on the coveted MCO trophy after fellow Egyptian Karim Darwish retired midway through the second game of Tuesday’s final.

After beating World #21 Nicolas Mueller in the first round, World #25 Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the quarterfinals, and top-seeded World #5 Mohamed El Shorbagy in the semis, World #8 Shabana appeared set for his toughest challenge: World #6 and 2010 MCO winner Darwish in a championship match of two former World #1s.

But Shabana, who had dropped only one game in his first three matches at the host Birmingham Athletic Club, jumped out to an early 6-2 lead. After cutting the deficit to 4-6, Darwish tinned three of his next four shots as Shabana closed out Game One, 11-4, in just nine minutes. Darwish came out firing in Game Two, nabbing a quick 6-1 lead. But in the ensuing rally, he grabbed his calf in apparent discomfort.

“It was very sore before the match. I thought when I warmed up it was going to get better, but after lunging a few times in the second game I think I pulled a calf muscle,” 31-year-old Darwish said afterwards.

After trying to stretch it out, Darwish decided not to risk further injury. He retired 25 minutes into the match, handing Shabana his first MCO title, 11-4, 2-6 ret.

Shabana holds up the MCO trophy given by tourney title sponsor David Fischer of the Suburban Collection (Motor City Open photo).
“I knew he had a tough, physical game yesterday against Omar Mosaad. And I knew if I had a good start it would help me a lot,” Shabana said.

“More credit to him because he came back and managed to get ahead. I think he pushed himself on a lunge and it’s a shame, but it’s part of the sport.”Yet, the standing-room-only crowd didn’t go home disappointed. Good-sport Shabana beckoned local BAC pro Julian Wellings, a former World #46, to suit up for a friendly two-out-of-three. Like every match in the tournament, Shabana won the exhibition, too: 12-10, 11-4.

For his week’s work, Shabana walked away with a check for $13,300 and a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Chronometer watch worth $6,000 – courtesy of Greenstone’s Jewelers.

“I love coming here,” 33-year-old Shabana said. “Unfortunately the last two times I came here, I pulled out. But I was just dying to get my name on that championship banner with all those great names.”

The title was Shabana’s second PSA World Tour victory of the month and 31st of his career.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year. After a few years with injuries and motivational problems, to be able to win two out of three tournaments, I’m very happy,” he said.

Darwish, who was looking to win his second MCO crown, took home the runners-up check of $11,200.“This tournament is one of the best events in the United States and I always enjoy playing here. I wanted to play a good match today but unfortunately couldn’t,” he said. “Hopefully I can come back next year and win it.”

Motor City Open 2012
24-29 Jan, Detroit, $70k
Round One
26 Jan  from 15.30
27 Jan
28 Jan
29 Jan
[1] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy)
11/9, 11/6, 11/5
[Q] Abdullah Al Mezayen (Kuw)
[1] Mohamed El Shorbagy
 5-11, 11-9, 11-6, 14-12 (75m)
Ong Beng Hee
[1] Mohamed El Shorbagy

13/11, 11/5, 6/11, 11/7 (65m)

[4] Amr Shabana

[4] Amr Shabana


11/4, 2/6 rtd (26m)


[2] Karim Darwish

Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
 6/11, 14/12, 11/7, 12/10
[Q[ Ryan Cuskelly (Aus)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col)
 12/14, 11/0, 11/6, 14/12
[Q] Mathieu Castagnet (Fra)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez
 11-6, 11-7, 11-3 (39m)
[4] Amr Shabana
Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
 11/9, 11/8, 11/7
[4] Amr Shabana (Egy)
[3] Omar Mosaad (Egy)
 15/13, 11/3, 11/7
[Q] Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy)
[3] Omar Mosaad
 11-6, 11-8, 11-8 (56m
Saurav Ghosal
[3] Omar Mosaad

14/12, 8/11, 8/11, 11/6, 11/5 (97m)

[2] Karim Darwish

Alan Clyne (Sco)
6/11, 11/7, 11/2, 11/3
Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
Hisham Ashour (Egy)
11/3, 11/7, 11/2
Steve Coppinger (Rsa)
Steve Coppinger
11-5, 11-4, 6-11, 11-3 (53m)
[2] Karim Darwish
 Olli Tuominen (Fin)
11/3, 11/3, 11/7
[2] Karim Darwish (Egy)

24-Jan, Qualifying Round One:

Marwan El Shorbagy
bt Grégoire Marche (Fra)                 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-1
Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) bt Shahier Razik (Can)           9-11, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-2
Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) bt Max Lee (Hkg)                                11-6, 11-4, 11-2
Abdullah Al Mezayen (Kuw) bt Siddharth Suchde (Ind)  11-13, 11-9, 12-10, 11-4

24-Jan, Qualifying Round One:

Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy) bye
Grégoire Marche (Fra) 3-1 Chris Gordon (Usa)            11-9, 11-5, 7-11, 11-7

Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) 3-0 Yasir Butt (Pak)                           11-6, 11-6, 14-12
Shahier Razik (Can) 3-2 Zac Alexander (Aus)   11-7, 9-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-3

Max Lee (Hkg) 3-0 Ibrahim Nyanzi (Uga)                             11-3, 11-3, 11-7
Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) 3-0 Shahjahan Khan (Pak)            11-2, 11-8, 11-8

Abdullah Al Mezayen (Kuw) 3-0nMartin Knight (Nzl)        12-10, 11-3, 17-15
Siddharth Suchde (Ind) 3-0 Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas)           14-12, 11-4, 11-8

Veterans despatch youngsters
Detroit semis
James Hawkins reports

In a clash of Egypt’s up-and-coming stars vs Egypt’s decorated veterans, youth gave way to experience in Monday’s semifinals at the Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection.

World #8 Amr Shabana took out World #5 Mohamed El Shorbagy and World #6 Karim Darwish held off World #9 Omar Mosaad to set up a championship match between two former World #1s.

In the first semi at the host Birmingham Athletic Club, 33-year-old Shabana got off to a quick 7-2 start as 22-year-old El Shorbagy struggled to find his shot. But in the blink of an eye, El Shorbagy stormed back to take a 9-7 lead.

“When you think you’re cruising, that’s when you lose it,” Shabana said afterwards about his blown lead. The number four-seed then staved off two game balls and rescued a 13-11 first game win.

“If I would’ve lost that game, it would’ve been devastating mentally,” Shabana continued.

Top-seed El Shorbagy made several unforced errors to drop Game Two, 11-5. He took Game Three as his shots finally began to find their mark, but then fell into a 6-1 hole in Game Four that he was never able to recover from as Shabana went on to win, 13-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-7.

“Every time we play, regardless of the score, it’s always a tip-toe game,” said Shabana, who improved to 9-0 versus El Shorbagy in his career. “Right now, I might have a slight advantage but Mohamed is still young and he’s going to catch up sooner or later.”

Making his first return to the MCO after mowing down the competition in 2010, 31-year-old Darwish advanced to his second MCO final after ousting 24-year-old Omar Mosaad in a physical – and often chippy – match.

In Game One, Darwish benefited after a pair of crucial mistakes by his larger opponent. Leading 12-11 with game ball, Mosaad hit back-to-back shots into the bottom of the tin before Darwish hit a forehand nick shot winner to seal it, 14-12.Mosaad bounced back in Games Two and Three, taking both 11-8. Despite being down 1-2, Darwish stuck to his game plan and stretched the floor, relentlessly pounding balls into the back corners and softly flicking balls into the front corners to win Game Four, 11-6 – and tie the match at two-all.

Darwish cruised in Game Five as fatigue became a factor and Mosaad made five unforced errors to drop the match, 14-12, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5.

“It’s always a physical match against Omar. He’s a big guy and it’s hard to pass him because he takes the ball early,” Darwish said. “But I tried to pass as much as I can and I think the last two games he lost a little bit of energy.”

Shabana and Darwish will face each another for the 17th time. The duo most recently met in the final of the 2010 Qatar Classic with Darwish prevailing 8-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-6.

“Shabana is a great player. I think people will enjoy tomorrow,” Darwish said.

27-Jan, Quarters:
Egypt 4 Rest of World 0 in Detroit
James Hawkins reports

Coming into the 2013 Motor City Open presented by the Suburban Collection, top seed Mohamed El Shorbagy of Egypt knew there was a chance that he and his fellow seeded Egyptians could claim all four semifinal spots. After Sunday’s quarterfinals at the host Birmingham Athletic Club, that possibility became a reality.

For the first time in the MCO’s 14-year history, there will be a one-nationality semifinal round as El Shorbagy, Amr Shabana, Karim Darwish, and Omar Mosaad all advanced out of the quarterfinals.

“To have four Egyptians in the semis, you never know who’s going to win. When you play someone from the same country as yours, you have to completely forget about rankings because these matches are always different,” El Shorbagy said. “We all know each other really well and we’re all good friends.”

World #8 and fourth seed Shabana was the first to take a semis spot as he wasted no time upending World #25 Miguel Angel Rodriguez – 11-9, 11-7, 11-3 – in just 39 minutes.

“Rodriguez is one of the best athletes around. He moves very quickly and smoothly so I had to play smartly,” said Shabana, a four-time World Open Champ. “If he gets you moving around it makes the court feel very big and when you try to finish a ball off he comes so fast it makes the court very small. I just had to choose my moments and pace myself.”

Shabana’s semis opponent will be El Shorbagy who avenged his loss in last year’s MCO semifinals to World #20 and reigning MCO champ Ong Beng Hee by rolling to a 5-11, 11-9, 11-6, 14-12 victory. El Shorbagy teetered on the brink of falling behind 0-2 to Beng Hee as he trailed 9-6 in Game Two, But was able to rattle off five-straight points and even the match at one-all.

“It’s so hard to play Beng Hee in that bouncy court cause he keeps slowing down the pace. I found myself down, but I just had to keep digging in ’til he lost focus. That’s what happened in the second game and the match completely went my way after that,” said El Shorbagy who has reached the MCO semifinals all three years he has played here. The top seed added that he’s excited for the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with 33-year-old squash legend Shabana.

“It’s good to be able to play Shabana one more time. He’s a player I won’t be playing that often since he only has a few years left in his career. But every time I play him I learn something new,” El Shorbagy said.

In a David versus Goliath quarterfinal, World #9 and third seed Omar Mosaad (6’4”, 200 pounds) played a tight game to contain speedy World #22 Saurav Ghosal (5’6”, 145 pounds) and win in straight games: 11-6, 11-8, 11-8.

Mosaad will face World #6 and second seed Karim Darwish, who disposed of World #23 Stephen Coppinger in the duo’s first career match-up: 11-5, 11-4, 6-11, 11-3.

“It’s good and tough at the same time,” Mosaad said of having to play Darwish in the semifinal. “We train all the time together so we know the other player’s game. I’ll try to play well and hope I can win.”

26-Jan, Round One:
Egyptians on a roll in Detroit
James Hawkins reports

Four former Motor City Open champions. A pair of former World number ones Twelve of the world’s Top 25 squash players. Four of them in the Top 10.

A historic field took to the courts Saturday in the First Round of the Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection. They didn’t disappoint.

In the day’s opening match at the host Birmingham Athletic Club, 2012 MCO winner Ong Beng Hee’s title defense looked to be in jeopardy as qualifier Ryan Cuskelly of Australia took Game One and was on the verge of commanding 2-0 lead in Game Two. But World #20 Beng Hee fought off four game balls and evened the match at 1-1. He took Game Three, then fended off three more game balls against to win Game Four and the match: 6-11, 14-12, 11-7, 12-10.

“Winning the second game changed the whole match,” Beng Hee said after the match. “I’m a little bit tense because it’s the first match of a very big tournament and I won it last year so the pressure is on. Ryan actually played really well and didn’t make many mistakes. It was just maybe my day today.”

In other matches, all four seeded Egyptians won convincingly in straight games. Top seed and 2011 MCO winner Mohamed El Shorbagy needed just 30 minutes to defeat qualifier and World #41 Abdullah Al Mezayen of Kuwait, 11-9, 11-6, 11-5.

Then in a battle of former MCO champions, 2010 winner and former World #1 Karim Darwish looked in top form as he dominated 2007 winner Olli Tuominen of Finland, 11-2, 11-3, 11-7.

Qualifier Marwan El Shorbagy – Moahamed’s younger brother – lost to fellow Egyptian and third-seed Omar Mosaad, 15-13, 11-3, 11-7. And former World #1 and fourth-seeded Amr Shabana buried drop shot after drop shot against World # 21 Nicolas Muller of Switzerland en route to a 11-9, 11-4, 11-9 win.

“Karim, Omar, and Amr are all great players and I’ve learned a lot from them. They’re like big brothers for me and they’ve helped me all through my career,” Mohamed El Shorbagy said after his match. “To be able to compete with them and try to beat them is an honour for me. Hopefully we all reach the semifinals together and it’ll be like an All-Egyptian tournament.

”In the last match of the day, World #23 Stephen Coppinger of South Africa met World #19 Hisham Ashour of Egypt in a highly-anticipated rematch of last year’s four-game semifinal match – won by Ashour. This time Ashour struggled with his consistency and Coppinger rolled : 11-3, 11-7, 11-2.

“The score line is convincing but I never felt comfortable,” Coppinger said afterwards. ” Hisham’s always got something different to hit you with, but I felt like it was all up to him whether he’d hit a winner or give me a free point.”

Also advancing to the quarterfinals is World #25 Miguel Angel Rodriguez of Colombia and World #22 Saurav Ghosal of India. Quarterfinals will begin Sunday at 4 p.m.

Qualifying complete in Detroit

Egyptian teenager Marwan El Shorbagy joined his top-seeded brother Mohamed in the main draw of the Motor City Open after coming through the qualifying finals  at Birmingham Athletic Club in  Detroi.

Marwan, the 2012 PSA Young Player of the Year and two-time world junior champion, recovered from a game down to beat Frenchman Grégoire Marche 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-1.

"In the first game I didn't find my game," said the 19-year-old world No27. "The court is very bouncy, which suits his game more than mine. I was just waiting for the opportunity to come so I could slow down the game and play at my pace.

"I thought it was working well in the second and third game. I think I played the right game for this court against Marche

Next up for Marwan is an all-Egyptian matchup with third seed Omar Mosaad.

Ryan Cuskelly produced the most dramatic win on the eve of the event's first round. After dropping the first two games to veteran Canadian Shahier Razik, the 25-year-old Australian mounted an extraordinary comeback taking the next three games and prevailing 9-11, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-2 in a draining, two-hour, eight minute match!

"Playing a player like Razik, he just gets so many balls back that you have to hit four or five winners just to win a rally," said the New York-based world No32. "That's his goal. Just to make the game as long as possible and frustrate you. I got sucked into his game the first two games instead of playing my game of attacking and getting to the ball faster."

Cuskelly switched tactics and began picking up the pace in game three. Things took a turn for the worse early in the decider when Razik dropped to the floor in agonizing pain.

"I had a bruised toe and Ryan had a good step on it," said the 35-year-old from Toronto. "It irritated and started swelling on me. I was struggling to get my shoe on. After game two, it just turned into a physical match. We both got a little tired and we weren't clearing as smoothly."

For Cuskelly, the marathon win is one of his greatest memories in his many years at the MCO.

"It was the longest match of my career by far and it's one of my best wins here, especially coming from down 2/0 against a player like Razik," he said. "He's pretty hard to beat on a traditional court."

Cuskelly's reward is a match against defending champion Ong Beng Hee.
Mathieu Castagnet ensured French interest in the main draw with a 3/0 win over Max Lee while Kuwait's Abdullah Al Mezayen came from a game down to beat Siddarth Suchde.

Castagnet now meets Miguel Angel Rodriguez while Al Mezayen draws top seed and former champion Mohamed El Shorbagy.

Detroit set for biggest yet

Four of the world’s top 10 professional squash players and 12 of the 25 top players will compete January 24-29 when the Birmingham Athletic Club hosts the USA's fourth largest professional squash tournament and the Midwest’s largest.

The competition will draw 26 of the world’s top-ranked players – including two former World #1s – to vie for a $70,000 purse in The Motor City Open, a PSA tournament presented by The Suburban Collection.

Confirmed players include World #6 Karim Darwish and World #8 Amr Shabana, both of Egypt and former World #1s. Squash legend Shabana is a four-time world champion – one of only four players ever to achieve that feat. Other players hail from Australia, Botswana, Colombia, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and elsewhere.

Now the second-longest running professional squash tournament in the United States, the MCO has grown during its 14-year history into one of PSA’s premier tournaments behind only the Tournament of Champions, U.S. Open and North American Open.

The six-day tournament typically attracts more than 1,500 spectators, and is co-sponsored by TRW, Grid4, Merrill Lynch, Visteon, Wynnchurch, Huron Capital, Conway-MacKenzie and others.

The winning player earns a cash prize, a Rolex watch donated by Greenstone’s Fine Jewelry and a place on the MCO’s trophy.

The MCO includes a silent auction that will benefit The Karmanos Cancer Institute and Racquet Up Detroit, a youth development program that combines squash, mentoring, tutoring and community service. During its 14-year history, the MCO has raised more than $120,000 for local charities.

Another popular feature of the annual event is the Junior Clinic, sponsored by the DeRoy Testamentary Foundation. Professionals in the tournament play and coach junior squash players from the greater-Detroit area and Windsor. The BAC has the Midwest’s largest junior squash program, and several of the BAC’s junior players are nationally ranked.

The BAC has a decades-long history of sending squash players to some of the nation’s best universities and colleges. Juniors enrolled in Racquet Up Detroit also will participate in this year’s Junior Clinic.

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