US SQUASH

Elias Cruises in Motor City Open Final

The MCO committee celebrates the week with champ Diego Elias and his coach, Jonathan Power. (MCO photo)

Peru’s Diego Elias cruised to his first PSA World Tour title of the season with an emphatic three-game triumph over Egypt’s Mohamed ElSherbini in the final of the $76,000 Motor City Open presented by Sturbridge Capital Sunday, February 9, at the Birmingham Athletic Club in Detroit, Michigan.

The world No. 7 from Lima entered his sixth Motor City Open as the tournament’s top seed with three past champions aiming for another title in Detroit elsewhere in the draw, defending champion Mohamed Abouelghar, 2016 champion Marwan ElShorbagy and 2015 champion Miguel Angel Rodriguez.

The PSA Silver draw proved to be hazardous for the top seeds and defending champions from the onset. In the second round, Qatar’s Abdulla Al-Tamimi dethroned Abouelghar, the three seed, in five games. Two seed ElShorbagy and four seed Rodriguez both bowed out against Leo Au and Mohamed ElSherbini in five and three games, respectively. ElSherbini, world No. 43, continued his surprise run with a three-game upset over Au to reach his largest career final to date.

In the top half of the draw, Elias endured a shaky start, pulling through a five-game opening match against England’s Nathan Lake. The twenty-three-year-old steadied the ship for the rest of the tournament, swiftly advancing to the finals with three-game quarterfinal and semifinal wins against Cesar Salazar and Benjamin Aubert, respectively, to reach his second consecutive Motor City Open final.

Elias continued that strong form in the final Sunday night, dispatching ElSherbini 11-4, 11-5, 11-4

“I’ve been here so many times,” Elias said. “I’m just really happy and I think I played my best squash this week and I’m happy with the result. You saw the upsets this week. They are all playing really, really good. The level of the fortieth in the world is getting closer and closer to the level of the top guys. I can and I want to get to the top of the rankings really soon.”

Elias had an important ally this week in former MCO champion Jonathon Power of Canada, who won at Birmingham Athletic Club in 2003 and 2005. Power has helped coach the Peruvian since he was fourteen and assumed a larger presence with Elias after a disappointing finish last month at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York City.

“He sort of was getting stuck, and I felt like getting from 6 to 1 is a long ways,” said Power, who retired at No. 1 in 2007. “He needs it, and squash needs a different face up there. He made the commitment to work a little harder and put more time into it, and I said I’ll put more time into it if he does. His adaptability and intelligence is very high, and I think it’s going to pay off very quickly. This type of event is a good momentum builder. It’ll continue.”

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