Egypt’s reigning World Champion Tarek Momen overcame a tough opening round battle against Qatar’s World No.27 Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi at the Manchester Open.
The two players have enjoyed some competitive battles of late, with their two matches this season going all the way to five games. However, this time proved more straightforward for Momen as he was able to fight back from a game down to secure his place in the second round at the first PSA World Tour event in six months due to the COVID-19 enforced suspension.
Both players got off to energetic starts as they showed their agility and pace on the glass court at the National Squash Centre, but it was Tamimi who took the first game with Momen struggling to find his length.
The World No.4 soon got back into the swing of things though, drawing level in the second, before taking the lead in third as Tamimi began to struggle with his movement and the tempo that the Egyptian was setting.
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tamimi__94</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/TkMomen?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">TkMomen testing each other in Manchester!
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It looked as though it was going to be a straight-forward race to the finish for Momen, but Tamimi proved resurgent in the final moments to put the Egyptian under pressure. However, it proved to come too late as Momen edged to an 8-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9 victory.
Momen will now face either Mohamed Abouelghar or George Parker in round two, depending on who comes out on top in their clash later today.
“It’s definitely tough for me to have Abdulla in the first match after a six-month break,” said the 32-year-old.
“At first, I didn’t know how to handle the conditions, I felt my length was too short and I wasn’t up to speed as well – there were a few shots I would usually get that I couldn’t. I think my main focus towards the end of the first game was just to hang in there and play a few more points to get into it before we got off court and regroup for the second.
“From then on thankfully my length was a lot better and my movement was a lot better. He gave me a bit of a scare in the end, I was 9-4 up and then he just suddenly decided to go for it and everything he went for it went in. I felt I had almost won the match and then all of a sudden, we were into a decider.
“I’m pleased to have been able to push towards the end and with the last couple of points, I took some risks and it paid off.
“It feels a lot more like practice [with no fans], of course the nerves and tension are there but when I hit a dropshot and nobody is sat outside watching I probably think I’m back home practicing. We’re getting used to it, I watched a lot of tennis before coming here, so I’m getting the vibe of playing in front of no audience.
“It will definitely affect each player in a different way. I would like to think of myself as someone who can push through regardless. We miss having people watching and cheering because that’s what we play for, but there are people watching and just behind a screen and not here.”
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-1: 8-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9 (56m)