26 March 2012


Tarek Momen is probably the second most unorthodox and creative player after Ramy Ashour on the tour. I was lucky enough to witness him play in the flesh against James Willstrop at the 2012 Canary Wharf Classic (what a match that was!) and I can tell you, the British crowd was cheering more for the Egyptian boy. This must be due to his incredible touch, hazardous shot-selection and gentleman-like fairness (not that Willstrop himself wouldn't excel in these categories, except the hazardous shot selection of course, but Momen does all this in an extremely unorthodox, special way). In the next few posts I will try to analyze Momen's game through some recordings that I was kindly allowed to do by the PSA and the organizers (Eventis). The below rally is a simple one for his standards but it shows an essential ingredient of his game: the hard paced deep drives. It's the very high quality of these drives that allow him go for his famous volley-drops apparently so nonchalantly. But it's not nonchalant at all. He pushes his opponents - here the world #1 James Willstrop - far back on the court with these shots; few players find more consistently and severely the back of the court than Momen (observe for instance the quality of the one at 0:13). Hitting a good and severe length doesn't mean you'll have to hit straight and long all day long. Momen for example, as soon as the opponent's response is slightly loose, will go for his trademark volley-drops. He will not hold the shot and hit it back long, no, he will go straight away for the drop (80% of the times). In the below case he employs a cross-volley-drop faded into the mid-court side-wall (0:19) as a preparative shot in order to stretch his opponent and then the delicate deaf straight volley-drop just over the tin (0:22) to finish the rally. Looks simple, but requires a genius and a few thousands of hours of training to make it look that simple.