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BARKER EDGED OUT IN EPIC MOTOR CITY OPEN FINAL

Posted: 29.01.14

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Essex left-hander Peter Barker narrowly failed to mark his first Motor City Open appearance in Detroit with the title, losing an epic five-game final last night to Egyptian top seed Mohamed Elshorbagy after winning the opening two games.

The world number four therefore became only the second player to win the $70,000 tournament twice, following in the footsteps Canadian legend Jonathon Power thanks to his 8-11, 12-14, 11-4, 11-6, 11-7 win in 92 minutes.

After two games before a packed crowd, however, it appeared Barker might be crowned the new champion. The third seed’s short game was working to perfection and his dogged defensive retrievals were stifling Elshorbagy’s attacks. It didn’t help that Elshorbagy struggled with his strokes either, tinning four shots in game one and five more in the second – twice when he had game ball.

However, in the third game Elshorbagy began his comeback with improved shot-making, racing into a 5-2 lead and sealing it with a backhand nick and a pair of unforced errors from Barker.

In the fourth game Elshorbagy stormed into a 5-0 lead as he threw in a relentless mix of drop shots and deep-corner drives that Barker couldn’t reach. Barker tied it at 5-5, but Elshorbagy then went on another run – hammering long drives and flicking drop shots that Barker was unable to retrieve – and closed out the game when Barker hit a backhand into the tin.

Game five resembled its predecessor as Elshorbagy blasted into an early 5-0 lead behind a pair of backhand winners and a series of drop shots. His lead ballooned to 7-1 before a determined Barker clawed back with a pair of outrageous drop shots and several unforced errors from Elshorbagy. However, clinging to a 7-6 lead, Elshorbagy responded with a pair of winners before clinching the title with a drop shot and a drive into the back right corner that Barker was unable to reach.

“As the game went on, my body started breaking down a little bit. I need my movement because retrieving and making my movement hurt people is my game. But more credit to him because he stuck in there and upped the pace,” Barker told the tournament website.

“I’ve heard great things about this tournament and I’m sorry it took me until I was 30 to come, but all the good things you hear about it on the Tour are true. I’ll be back.”