Egyptians in the World ...                      CALENDAR

Windy City, USA    

Wednesday 1st March - Finals


[3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-1  [5] Marwan ElShorbagy   5-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-4 (51m)


[3] Raneem El Welily 3-1 [1] Nour El Sherbini               10-12, 11-7, 11-7, 11-7 (42m)             
 

Et de 3....
PSA Reports

Egyptís Raneem El Welily made it a hat trick of title triumphs at the Windy City Open, adding the 2017 title to her 2015 and 2016 crowns by defeating compatriot Nour El Sherbini 3-1 in todayís title decider.

The World No.3 played scintillating squash from the off, using her backhand drop with devastating effect to punish any lose play from El Sherbini. Despite losing a close first game 10-12 it looked comfortable for El Welily as she looked back to the form that took her to World No.1 in 2015.

She played really well in the first game and I wasnít sharp enough.

Half way through the first game I started to find my spots and my angles. Even though I lost that first game, I knew that I was on my way to find the right plan. Iím really happy to win today, itís fantastic.

Chicago is my lucky city and Iím always happy to be here.

14th WS Title for Greg
PSA Reports

Gaultier, competing in a 75th PSA career final, has been in scintillating form so far in 2017. After finishing as runner-up at January's Tournament of Champions and winning the Swedish Open in February he proved too much for ElShorbagy, the 23-year-old appearing in a World Series tournament final for the first time in his career.

The Frenchman started slowly, looking nervous as he struggled to settle in the opener which went the way of a composed looking ElShorbagy. But Gaultier's big game experience came to the fore as he pushed on to secure the honours and his 13th PSA World Series title 5-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-4.

I am really happy Ė it's amazing to win these kind of major titles so it will be nice to see my name on this beautiful trophy once again.

It is a lovely place to play and I have been coming here for a long time. I have a lot of friends here and have always enjoyed coming back.

Today he caused me a lot of trouble in the first game. He has got a lot of confidence from this week winning some big matches, especially from beating his brother. He proved this week that he is a top player Ė he came through five tough matches to reach this stage which was a tougher week than me.

I had to find a solution and to put more pace into it and get in control because when I was playing at his rhythm he was just a better player than me.

Tuesday 28th February - Semis

[5] Marwan ElShorbagy 3-1 [6] Ali Farag                                 11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9 (61m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-0 Borja Golan (Esp)                            11-6, 15-13, 11-8 (69m)

[1] Nour El Sherbini 3-1 [4] Camille Serme (Fra)                     8-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-4 (46m)
[3] Raneem El Welily 3-2 [2] Nouran Gohar                   7-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-5, 11-9 (62m)     

[1] Nour El Sherbini 3-1 [4] Camille Serme (Fra)                     8-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-4 (46m)

Sherbini Ends Sermeís Run
PSA Reports


World No.1 Nour El Sherbini signalled a return to top form as she halted Camille Sermeís 12 match winning streak to book a place in the final of the Windy City Open for the second straight year.

El Sherbini looked out of sorts during Januaryís Tournament of Champions, where she lost to Serme in the semi-final stages, but cut a different player on court today as she put in a superb performance to come from behind and take Serme out.

It was the Frenchwoman who started strongly, taking the first game by controlling the court but El Sherbini stepped up in the second and put together a spell of play that would have seen her beat any opposition as she took the next three games relatively comfortably Ė getting off court in just 46 minutes.

It feels like things are coming together this week Ė I regrouped after ToC and trained very hard the past few weeks. I feel like Iím playing well again and Iím trying to enjoy being out there. Iím happy more with the fact Iím playing well than with the win.

Sheís been the best player this season and was wining everything. Every year thereís a player who comes through and takes it forward Ė itís a challenge but itís exciting as well, everyone is constantly trying to improve. But even though sheís been playing well I believed in myself as well. Iím thankful that I could get back to my game plan after the first and get the win.

There are no expectations for me tomorrow. It doesnít matter who I play Ė Iíll do my best to win. Iím happy to be back in the final, I love playing here and Iím really happy that itís going to be an all-Egyptian final.

[3] Raneem El Welily 3-2 [2] Nouran Gohar                   7-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-5, 11-9 (62m)     

Three-peat Still On For El Welily

Raneem El Welily's kept her hopes of winning the Windy City Open for a third straight year alive with an impressive 3-2 win over Nouran Gohar in a humdinger or a battle inside the University Club of Chicago.

The former World No.1, who can be guilty of frequent lapses of concentration on court, put together a focused and consistent game that she has shown in recent months, showing strength of character and her unquestioned talent with racket in hand to twice come from a game down to defeat the relentless 19-year-old Gohar.

Hitting with her trademark power from the off, Gohar took the opener 11-7 before extending a game advantage once again with an 11-9 win in the third.

El Welily managed to grab control of proceedings in the fourth before racing into a 5-1 lead in the fifth. A lapse, allowing Gohar to level up at 5-5, threatened to be El Welily's undoing but she regrouped in impressive fashion to stay strong in the dying stages and secure the match 11-9 in the fifth.

At the end, there was so much relief Ė it was so intense.

In the end we were just hitting it so hard, there were no drops or shots Ė it was a case of glass hands for both of us. She played fantastic. I'm just very happy to be through. It's a very important win for me mentally.

I'm still giving away cheap points Ė at 5-1 up in games she was getting back into it and I was going for too many shots from serves. I know I can't do that and I'm getting better, but I know I still need to improve Ė I know I can control it and one day I will for sure!

It's amazing to be in the final for a fourth time Ė there's no pressure tomorrow but it would be fantastic to win here for the third time.

[5] Marwan ElShorbagy 3-1 [6] Ali Farag                                 11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9 (61m)

ElShorbagy Books Final Spot
PSA Reports

Marwan ElShorbagy will look to put his name alongside that of his brother Mohamedís, the man he knocked out of the 2017 Windy City Open, after securing a first ever PSA World Series tournament final appearance courtesy of a 301 win over Ali Farag.

Elder brother Mohamed won the title in 2016 and, after beating him for the first ever time on the PSA World Tour yesterday, Marwan will look to keep the trophy in the family after coming through a nervy encounter with Farag to reach the title-decider.

With a maiden final appearance on offer for both men the nerves were evident in the early stages, but they quickly but any apprehension to bed as they engaged in a high quality passage of back and forth play. Too many lackadaisical serves were the undoing of Farag in the early parts as he frequently relinquished momentum, winning hard earned rallies before gifting ElShorbagy easy attacks from weak serves.

After going 2-0 down Farag managed to get more control in the match in the third and get on the scoreboard as both men continued to probe and test each other. As the fourth continued in the same back and forth vein towards the crucial stages when it was Marwan who grasped the opportunity to seal it 11-9 Ė with a nod to his big brother.

It was very hard to back up what happened yesterday Ė emotionally, mentally, physically, everything. I didnít sleep very well last night and I tried to stay away from my phone Ė there was a lot of messages on social media. I wanted to prepare myself mentally for this one.

My brother called me before the match and prepared me for it Ė he gave me the game plan and told me that these opportunities, once you get them you have to take them. He told me to raise my game and I felt ready for it because of him and I want to thank him for that.

I didnít expect much this event or from myself for the rest of the season but my brother always says heíd rather lose in the first round than lose in a final Ė I want that same mentality.

Iíve had some good wins but I want to keep it going. I really want that title and Iíll give it everything that I have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Men's Draw


Women's Draw

All the Videos from Windy City

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Poster by Sarah Gamal

Monday 27th February - Quarters

[5] Marwan ElShorbagy 3-2 [1] Mohamed ElShorbagy 1-11, 11-8, 13-11, 5-11, 11-8 (69m)
[6] Ali Farag 3-1 Simon RŲsner (Ger)                                        8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-5 (52m)
Borja Golan (Esp) 3-1 [2] Karim Abdel Gawad                        8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-9 (73m)
          

[1] Nour El Sherbini 3-1 [7] Nicol David (Mas)            11-9, 6-11, 11-6, 11-4 (45m)
[3] Raneem El Welily 3-1 [6] Amanda Sobhy (Usa)     11-6, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5 (30m)
[2] Nouran Gohar
3-0 [5] Laura Massaro (Eng)                   11-7, 11-3, 11-5 (37m)

Iím happy that Iím through.

Nicol achieved a lot in this game, she changed squash, Iíve been watching her since I was 6. Itís always tough to play her, she never gives up, she always fight until the end, and she gets the best out of me.

Sometimes a small thing can change a lot in the game, and Iím glad that now, we have the technology to improve our game: I thought I played a double bounce in the 3rd, and then I saw the video, and saw it was correct. So thanks for that technology that shows what really happens on there, there is less arguing now, itís better like this! And maybe, that point helped me a lot because it gave me some confidence as I was able to retrieve that ball, and keep goingÖ

Sheís mentally so strong, itís always tough. Even at 2-0 I knew I had to stay fully focused because she can come back.

In the first round I didnít think my shots were going well and I didnít feel like I was moving very well, but Iíve stuck to the plan and been improving with each match.

I tried to make sure I stayed positive. My mum was with me reminding me that Iíve trained very hard in the past few weeks.

Raneem is always there supporting me during matches and we train together a lot. Itís hard to play against a good friend, and sheís talented, but I think it will be a good match and the best player will win.

Simon started unbelievably well, he is one of the best when it comes to angles, and I gave him too many angles in the first, he pushed me back in the corners and I coudln't find a solution.

But then, same story again: Nour in my corner, she picks the right words, this time with Karim Abdel Gawad as well, they told me to keep it as straight as possible, and thankfully it worked. From the second on.

The third, I think it's the best squash I played this season.

I saw that Simon was struggling a bit at the end, I hope it's nothing serious, it was a brutal match we played at a very high pace, we moved each other quite a lot, and I think the second made the difference, as it's a completely different game being 2/0 up or 1/1... Thankfully, I won the second, and it made the difference.

It's my first time here in the semis of Chicago! The atmosphere has been a lucky charm for me, and hopefully, it's not my last day, and I live to fight another day...

Media preview


Thoughts
 

I had a back injury and a few months ago I didnít know if Iíd be able to play again Ė I was 34 and my back wasnít responding well,Ē said Golan.

I kept doing the work and I was so happy to get back on court in December. But I hadnít won a match until this week and I think that match winning confidence is so important to help you increase your level.

I didnít start very well but after that first game I just tried to push myself. I defended well and tried to be very aggressive as well. I was trying to change the pace as well and it worked.

Today I had nothing to lose. I knew Iíd have to be at my best and even then itís not going to be simple because he is so good Ė but I took the opportunities.

Tomorrow is another match. I want to enjoy this one Ė eat well and sleep well and then Iíll worry about the next one. Thereís no point playing if you canít take some time to enjoy the win.

[1] Nour El Sherbini 3-1 [7] Nicol David (Mas)         11-9, 6-11, 11-6, 11-4 (45m)

Nicol as dangerous as ever
Fram reports

I was particularly impressed with the way Nicol David played today, yet again, and even more impressed with the fact Nour was able to tire her in the 4th.

The game was intense, long rallies, with "Nicolawy" attacking and putting Nour under a lot of physical pressure, forcing the Alex girl to visit the court a few times. After a great start in the opener, 5/0, 6/1, Nour had to fight point for point to finally clinch the game, I feel that's the turning point.

Nic comes back blazing with all guns in the second, 9m, and truly give Nour a lesson in ball placing. But Nour fights back beautifully in the third, it's neck to neck from 2/2 to 6/6, but Nour out of nowhere finds another gear, and scores 6 points in a row from 5/6, 11/6.

The 4th, Nic is looking very tired, 4/0 Nour, 5/2, 10/3, 11/4. Nour's movement and determination made the difference tonight I feel.

[3] Raneem El Welily 3-1 [6] Amanda Sobhy (Usa)   11-6, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5 (30m)

I am very happy to be through today, Amanda is obviously a very strong player, she is very tough, very hard to play, very strong mentally and physically. So to get out a win today is absolutely fantastic for me.

I started very well, but then in the third, I kind of expected her to do something different, and automatically changed my plan without looking at what she was going to do!

I donít think she played her best, I hope she is fine, and Iím looking forward to my semi-final.

[2] Nouran Gohar 3-0 [5] Laura Massaro (Eng)                   11-7, 11-3, 11-5 (37m)

Gohar On Fire
PSA Reports


Nouran Gohar put in a dominant performance to secure an eye-catching 3-0 win over Laura Massaro and set up a semi-final encounter with compatriot Raneem El Welily.

Prior to today Gohar had only beaten Massaro twice from 10 attempts, both of those wins coming in five game battles, but she went from strength to strength to nullify Massaro from the start playing precise to take the game away from the Englishwoman.

The World No.4 unleashed an onslaught from the off, using her power to dominate the T and leave Massaro wondering what had happened after just 37 minutes of battle.

[6] Ali Farag 3-1 Simon RŲsner (Ger)                                   8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-5 (52m)

A game of two halves...
Fram reports

It was a very interesting match I thought. It was like if Simon - who spent less time on court than his opponent - picked up where he left off against Ramy - playing superb fast and furious squash in the first game, taxying and wrong footing Ali so many times, both at the front and at the back. The Egyptian just couldn't read the German's game at all, and it looked like we were going for a quick 3/0, Simon full of confidence after beating Ramy for the first time of his career.

But I have the feeling that Ali benefitted from Ramy's match. He probably saw what Ramy didn't do - as in slowing down the pace and imposing his own game - and just used height to perfection, allied to a superb accuracy at the back, opening opportunities at the front of the court, forcing the German to cover a lot of ground. The Egyptian manages to find a perfect balance from 5/5, and forces 3 errors out of the Simon's Golden Racquet, 11/8 in 10.

The third is quite suprising as Simon seems like hitting the wall at 3/3, losing the game in 9m 11/4, not like Simon at all I must say. And it's confirmed in the  11m fourth game, 4/1, 10/4, 11/5 for Ali, with Simon giving up on rallies, even if he fought hard at the end...

Ali too strong today. Lacked a bit of quality from the second but then he was very confident in his hitting and didn't give me anything.


on Twitter

[5] Marwan ElShorbagy 3-2 [1] Mohamed ElShorbagy 1-11, 11-8, 13-11, 5-11, 11-8 (69m)

It had to happen one day.
Fram reports

Marwan had beaten Mohamed in English League matches. But never in PSA. It was like Marwanís talent would like freeze when he woud play against his brother. And although Mohamed never ever enjoyed playing his brother on PSA, he never let him take more than 1 gameÖ.

And it looked like today wouldnít be any different really. 11/1 in 5m, didnít look good for Marwan. But all of the sudden, Marwan seemed to relax, while Mohamed seemed to tense up. 5/2 Marwan, 5/5. 6/6. 8/8. Some super intense rallies, but this time, itís Marwan that is attacking, and Mohamed forced to defend and work hard, 11/8 in 22m Ė including a little episode at 6/6 where Mohamed took a while to change a shoe.

The third is the turning point. 17m of hard and ridiculous squash, intense, angles, attacks retreving, four corners, up, down, close the to tin, immaculate drives and widthÖ What a match. Not a point between them, but itís Mohamed that gets game ball 10/9, and a second one 11/10. But for the first time, Marwan takes a second game from his brother 13/11.

That takes a while to sink in for Marwan. Is he ready to break his brotherís heart? Especially with the tough season he had? And more happening that not many people know about that really weigh on his mental state? No, he is not. And Mohamed restablish his authority, 11/5 in 7m.

But here we are in the 5th. Is Marwan ready to win now? Yes. The battle is on, and itís on the mental front that itís all happening. 1/1. 3/3. 5/5. 7/7. 8/8. A tin from Mohamed, 9/8.

Donít ask me what happened next. I can only remember Marwan throwing his racquet to the front of the court, and coming back to his brother, bursting into tears, I can only remember Mohamedís tears.

Somehow, Marwan Junior est devenu grand. This is the first day of the rest of his career, and the sky is the limit. Just because he now knows he can beat the best player in the world.

Itís tough Ė we both new it was going to happen at some point. Every time we play itís a battle on court Ė but we are best friends off court.

Iím only here because of my brother. Whatever I have achieved in squash, I have done because of him. He taught me everything.

This season has been a tough one for him. There are a lot of reasons for this result, you know. Itís not just what people see on the court, itís about what happens off the court as well. Heís been going through a lot off court, we both have, and nobody knows whatís been happening to both of us.

But if I have to chose one player who can come back from anything, it would be my brother. Heís got that kind of personality and I canít wait to see him dominating the sport once again. He is such an amazing player.

He went too fast too quickly in the first and I had to try and build the rallies better. He used his experience in the fourth and it could have been the same in the fifth but I found my way back and I think I surprised him with my short game.

I donít know what I would do if I wasnít a squash player. Iím grateful for the sport Ė it has allowed me to have my brother as my best friend. We share the same life, have the same dreams and we support each other. Weíre there for each other. Itís a tough day today for us Ė unfortunately Iím probably going to be the player that knocks him off the World No.1 ranking.

A couple of years ago, I reached the semis for the first time here, and I lost to my brother. I need to control my emotions, I need to think about the recovery, and I need to think about my next match. Iím playing Ali, he is a great player, itís his first semi-final here.

We havenít played since he came back to the professional tour, Iím really looking forward to play him, I know itís going to be a good match.

It was maybe my lucky day but I have a big match tomorrow to look forward to. Ali and I have a great chance to reach a first World Series Final.

Borja Golan (Esp) 3-1   [2] Karim Abdel Gawad                        8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-9 (73m)

Gallant Golan Eliminates World Champion
PSA Reports

Borja Golan played out of his skin to knock Karim Abdel Gawad out of the Windy City Open and book an unexpected berth in the semi-finals Ė his first appearance at this stage of a World Series event since the 2014 Hong Kong Open.

The Spaniard, who made yet another come back from injury t
owards the back end of 2016, hadnít won a PSA World Tour match since September but impressed to down the Hong Kong duo of Leo Au and Max Lee to reach the last eight.

And he put in the performance of the tournament so far to halt Gawad, at times slowing the play before injecting pace and attacking with intent. It took Gawad out of his comfort zone and, when he took the crucial third 11-9 to go 2-1 up, El Toro charged home to secure a huge win.

25th/26th Feb - Second Round

James Willstrop (Eng) 3-2  Mohamed Abouelghar             11-4, 11-8, 8-11, 13-11 (70m)
[2] Karim Abdel Gawad 3-1 Fares Dessouky                      11-6, 10-12, 11-8, 11-9 (59m)
[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy 3-0 Cesar Salazar (Mex)                            11-9, 11-6, 11-8 (42m)
[5] Marwan ElShorbagy 3-2 Stephen Coppinger (Rsa)  11-4, 9-11, 12-10, 4-11, 11-6 (63m)
[6] Ali Farag 3-2 Diego Elias (Per)                                     6-11, 11-9, 5-11, 11-6, 11-6 (69m)
Simon RŲsner (Ger) 3-1 [4] Ramy Ashour                                  11-6, 11-8, 6-11, 11-3 (47m)

[1] Nour El Sherbini 3-0 [15] Victoria Lust (Eng)                               11-2, 11-7, 11-8 (25m) [3] Raneem El Welily 3-1 [11] Annie Au (Hkg)                           11-8, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7 (37m)
[2] Nouran Gohar 3-1 10] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng)                    6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 (49m)

[3] Raneem El Welily 3-1 [11] Annie Au (Hkg)                      11-8, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7 (37m)

Fram reports
Annie started very focused, and believing she had a chance, which is sometimes what she lacks - I feel she doesn't believe in herself sometimes. Raneem was also extremely concentrated. Nice use of the height for both, nice lobs and change of pace. Very close first game up tot 7/7, an it's Raneem that finds her groove, 11/8 in 7m.

The second is a bit of a typical away with the fairies from Raneem, up 5/1, she lets Annie's boasts and change of rhythm unsettle her, 4 unforced errors in 6 points, and logically, Annie levels it 11/8, in 7 m too!

The third is all about a shining Raneem, imposing her talent all over the court, and Annie unable to contain her, 11/4 in 6m. The fourth is much closer, Annie's lobs and boasts are lethal as ever, at 5/5, we think we may go for a decider, but again, like in the first game, a nice acceleration from Raneem, 11/7, 8m.

Annie is a great player, her game plan was really hard to break today, it took a lot of mental energy and strength, I tried and stayed as consistent as possible, thanks to my team mates who knew the right words, it really helped me a lot today.

Iím just happy to be through today.

[2] Nouran Gohar 3-1 10] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng)                    6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 (49m)

Gohar Goes On
PSA reports


A strong and spirited challenge from in-form Sarah-Jane Perry wasnít enough to prevent Nouran Gohar from making the last eight in Chicago as the World No.4 rallied from a game down to set up quarter-final encounter with Laura Massaro.

Perry started positively in the first and took control, taking the initiative away from the hard-hitting Gohar to take it 11-6 before Gohar levelled courtesy of a 11-9 second.

In the third Gohar was out front before Perry put together a real purple patch to turn the game around and trade points with Gohar all the way to 9-9 only to see fortune go the way of the Egyptian as she hit a lucky width nick to take it on the first game ball opportunity.

The trading continued in the fourth until, with the scores at 4-4, Gohar pulled away as Perry slowed physically, completing the win in 49minutes.

It was a big battle, sheís in-form at the moment and Iíd never beaten her before,Ē said Gohar.

I had to play very well today beat her. Sheís just made the top 10 so I had to be 100 per cent ready mentally and physically.

ďIn the first game it was all her way and her shots were firing in Ė I just tried to stick in there. I had my mum and Raneem and the Egyptian players in my corner and without them I wouldít have been able to dig deep and win this match.

James Willstrop (Eng) 3-2  Mohamed Abouelghar                11-4, 11-8, 8-11, 13-11 (70m)

Willstrop Comes Through In 4 Against Improving Abouelghar
PSA reports

James Willstrop was given a run for his money out on the glass court at the University Club of Chicago today as Egyptian challenger Mohamed Abouelghar showed heís no pushover, putting in the kind of performance that signals his intent to break the top twenty this season.

Willstrop, who demolished Omar Mosaad 3-0 in round one, picked up from where he left off as he continued to hit accurate, precise lines with Abouelghar powerless to stop the Englishman taking the opener.

It was soon 2-0 as Willstrop claimed the second Ė but only after coming from behind to snatch it from the Egyptian. The 23-year-old had found himself out in front before Willstrop tightened up to sneak it.

But Abouelgharís ability was on full display in the third as he reduced the error count, tightened up his line hitting and played with patience to transform the match into an almighty tussle. Constructing the rallies with belief, he made life difficult for Willstrop Ė one of the best rally builders in the game Ė and was rewarded when he got on the scoreboard.

And he continued to match the former World No.1 in the fourth. It was nip and tuck until 9-9 when Willstropís beautifully deceptive crosscourt kill set up match point. He needed three to convert the match though Ė letting out a huge, and not often seen, roar as he booked a last eight spot.

There was a lot of relief at the end of that one Ė it was very hard,Ē said Willstrop.

He was very heard to break down today. I might have a ranking advantage and the experience, but heís given me a real tough ride the last few times we played.

I handled it well in the first two today but he just got better and better and grew into it. I though he was class Ė he was making it very, very hard and wasnít giving me any openings. Iím very happy that I managed to get through it.

Coming into the match I wasnít certain if I had enough energy in the tank Ė I pulled out of the British Nationals with injury Ė but I think I answered those questions and hopefully I have enough in the tank to back up tomorrow and come out ready for whoever Iím playing.

Iíll do the work and the preparation and come out positive.

[6] Ali Farag 3-2 Diego Elias (Per)                                6-11, 11-9, 5-11, 11-6, 11-6 (69m)

Ali has changed his game
Fram reports

We all know that Ali has been struggling with his form since his surgery back in November. He came back at the start of 2017, but he was not mentally or physically at ease on the court, struggling a bit with his movement, in particular to the left front corner.

Well, not only he is now moving extremely well, not only he is fitter both mentally and physically, but wait for it, he is varying the pace!!!! I KID YOU NOT!!!!

Ali used to have a lovely mid pace game that sort of put his opponent in a false security. But sometimes he was not able to vary that pace enough and it cost him a few matches out there. I remember one day Legend Shabana telling him that the Lord gave him talent, but not only at 1 pace!!! So true...

Today, I saw Ali play a great squash both tactically and execution wise. Especially as he was playing a young wolf who is not afraid of him, who beat him already, and who knows that he could cause him trouble physically. Ali adapted his squash severaly times during the match, his lobs made a lot of damage, his follow up was great and he relentlessly retrieved Diego short game, matching the ridiculous pace  the Peruvian imposed at times.

Diego is such a fair player, his movement is fluid, he calls all his shots, and his squash is going to tune up and refine as the months go. What a delight that match was...

I want to thank my wife Nour, because without her tonight, there is no way I would have won tonight.

Diego was much better than I in the first game also in the first half of the second game. I felt out of sort, but she told me hang in there, go deep, don't go short at all because he is killing you there in the front, and be as tough as possible. I tried to do that, and she kept motivating me, and thankfully it worked today. Diego was the better player, but I'm glad I managed to win today.

I found my rhythm a bit better at the end, especially at the end of the fourth, and I tried to take that momentum to the 5th. I could see he was getting tired, but I was getting tired too but thanks to my fitness coach Hossam, we've done a lot of fitness work, and I had confidence in my body, and in my head because of Nour, so good team work: I'm not the only one that won today, we all did.

[5] Marwan ElShorbagy 3-2 Stephen Coppinger (Rsa)  11-4, 9-11, 12-10, 4-11, 11-6 (63m)

Listening to the aftermatch interview, I heard that Marwan's voice was a bit deep and nasal, my guess is he's got a cold, which would explain why in the 4th, he seemed not able to breathe. With the squash quality/intensity/ridiculous pace those two played tonight, no wonder!

After a first game completely dominated by Junior, Cops played a "Nouran Gohar" style, as in hit very hard and low, constantly, until you pin your opponent so far in the back you can delicately kill the ball at the front.

It worked beautifully for a nearly two games, 11/9 in the 2nd, and 10/7 in the third. Marwan found his magic, out of nowhere, and scored the next 5 points, turning point of the match, even if he paid the price in the four, not able to make any kind of pressure on his opponent, 11/4 in 7 mn for the South African.

But it was "reculer pour mieux sauter", take a step back to jump higher as we say. The 5th was controlled the whole way by the Egyptian, 4/1, 6/2, 9/5, 11/6.

It was a really really tough match, and to be honest, I don't know how I won this one.

In the third, Steve was 10/7 up and I don't know, I think I started to go for it, and it worked.

I think he started slowly in the first game but in the second, he was playing much better than me, he was controlling the pace so well, so in the 5th, I just kept digging in and digging in, but it was tough, really tough.

I'm so happy I won today, and I'm glad I've got a day off tomorrow.

Simon RŲsner (Ger) 3-1 [4] Ramy Ashour                                  11-6, 11-8, 6-11, 11-3 (47m)

Superb consistency for Simon
 

No, I do not have inside information about Ramy's performance today, and my report can only reflect what I saw on SquashTV....

First thing, Simon played as well as he can play, and that's a lot. He played his game to perfection, taking the time away from Ramy, playing consistently at a very high pace, finding some sublime drop shots on his forehand that totally fooled the Artist, and never letting him settle in the match.

What I observe from Ramy was how he refused to use his bionic leg when he was lounging - making 8 unforced errors in the first game alone - as he was focusing on his movement and not on his squash. He never really relaxed the whole match.

Also, he only played his game in the third, starting to slow the pace down, and lob a bit more, and most of the time, he just tried and match Simon at his own game, a game that logically Simon is better at!

The fact that Ramy dived a lot is not a good sign. I know him enough to know he is doing it when he is trying to protect his bionic leg....

So, to summarise what I saw: Simon played the best he can play, Ramy was probably not used to that speed anymore thanks to 3 months away from PSA, only reacted to what Simon was throwing at him instead of implenting his own game, and probably is still suffering from a few niggles (read his quote from the first match, where he states he didn't want to play that day as he didn't feel right).

Sublime match from Simon, who has been knocking at the Top Door for a while and he must be thrilled to see all his enormous work for years finally paying off. Well done truly.

That's one of, if not the, biggest wins of my career.

You never know what to expect from him Ė he's such a unique player. I think he played well today but I managed to keep him away from the centre of the court and it was one of those days where you step on court and have a good feeling.

My front corner game was working very well and everything was clicking. I knew I had to be aggressive and go for it and I think every aspect of my game together today Ė and that's what you need to do to beat a player like him.

I'm very happy with the match and I think that's one of the best matches of my season. I'm very proud to be back in the quarter-finals here.

[1] Nour El Sherbini 3-0 [15] Victoria Lust (Eng)                               11-2, 11-7, 11-8 (25m)
[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy 3-0 Cesar Salazar (Mex)                            11-9, 11-6, 11-8 (42m)

PSA Reports
El Sherbini
was in total control as she dismissed Victoria Lust in just 25 minutes while ElShorbagy gained revenge for his shock first round defeat at the hands of Cesar Salazar at last monthís Motor City Open to down the Mexican in 42 minutes Ė although there was cause for concern in the ElShorbagy camp as stomach issues crept in towards the end of the third game

I felt something wrong with my stomach and I just need to get off that court and get some treatment so I could finish the this as best I could.

Iím happy to win and to be playing the quarter finals of a World Series event is always a big thing. Squash is my life Ė whether Iím having a bad time or good time thereís nowhere I would rather be than on the squash court.



 


Photos Steve Line SquashPics

23rd/24th Feb - First Round

[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy 3-2 Paul Coll (Nzl)     14-12, 11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 11-7 (94m)
5] Marwan ElShorbagy 3-0 [Q] Karim Ali Fathi              11-4, 7-11, 11-8, 11-4 (57m)
[6] Ali Farag 3-2 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col)     6-11, 11-4, 11-7, 4-11, 11-7 (65m)
[4] Ramy Ashour 3-0 [Q] Olli Tuominen (Fin)                          11-2, 11-8, 11-3 (23m)
Mohamed Abouelghar 3-2 Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) 11-6, 10-12, 5-11, 11-7, 11-8 (61m)
James Willstrop (Eng) 3-0 [8] Omar Mosaad                                11-5, 11-5, 11-1 (34m)
[Q] Leo Au (Hkg) 3-2 [7] Tarek Momen                      5-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-9, 11-7 (80m)
Fares Dessouky
3-0 [Q] Nicolas Mueller (Sui)                                11-6, 11-7, 11-7 (28m)
[2] Karim Abdel Gawad 3-1 [Q] Alan Clyne (Sco)                 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-5 (45m)

[1] Nour El Sherbini
3-0 [Q] Nadine Shahin                        11-7, 11-8, 11-4 (22m)
[7] Nicol David (Mas) 3-0 [Q] Hania El Hammamy               11-8, 11-6, 11-9 (38m)
[16] Joey Chan (HKG) 3-1 [Q] Salma Hany Ibrahim    11-9, 4-11, 11-3, 11-8 (38m)
Tesni Evans (Wal) 3-2 [14] Nour El Tayeb         6-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9 (66m)
[4] Camille Serme (Fra) 3-1 Heba El Torky                 11-7, 11-6, 7-11, 11-4 (45m)
[3] Raneem El Welily 3-1 Jenny Duncalf (Eng)                      11-5, 9-11, 11-7, 11-3 (35m)
[11] Annie Au (Hkg) 3-0 [Q] Mayar Hany                                        11-4, 11-8, 11-6 (27m)
[5] Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-1  Mariam Metwally                     11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 11-7 (40m)
[2] Nouran Gohar
3-1 [Q] Fiona Moverley (Eng)                   9-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 (38m)


H2H Women

[2] Nouran Gohar 3-1 [Q] Fiona Moverley (ENG)             9-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 (38m)

Gohar Comes From Behind To Down Moverley
PSA reports

Despite an early first game stutter World No.4 Nouran Gohar got her Windy City Open campaign off to a winning start courtesy of a 3-1 victory over Englandís Fiona Moverley.

Gohar was off the pace in the first, allowing Moverley to take advantage of every opportunity, but the Egyptian resumed normal service in the second as she increased the pace, hitting with consistent power to upset Moverleyís rhythm and come through in four.

Nouran is joined in the second round by Canadian Samantha Cornett as she upset the seeding to down Joelle King also in four games
.

All credit to her she played well and surprised me in the first game. In the second I was just trying to execute my plan and play a batter basic game.

ďItís good to play a match where youíre moving around the court so Iíll go away and prepare for the second round now.

[3] Raneem El Welily 3-1 Jenny Duncalf (Eng)                      11-5, 9-11, 11-7, 11-3 (35m)

Welily Starts Defence With 4 Game Win
PSA Reports

A free flowing four game encounter between two of the best outright shot makers and most skilful players in the womenís game saw Raneem El Welily get her title defence off to s string start against Englandís Jenny Duncalf.

El Welily took the first, display her soft hands and sumptuous racket control, while Duncalf proved that sheís still one of the most entertaining players around as she came back with a string display of her own in the second to level.

A closely contested third saw El Welily edge back in front and that looked to have broken the English resistance as she stormed to a 10-2 lead in fourth, setting up the victory and a second round match with Hong Kongís Annie Au.

Iím very happy to be back here again Ė I love being here in Chicago and playing in this venue.

Iím really happy to be through to the next round. Jenny is obviously a very good, and talented player who was No.2 for so long.

She used to beat me real easy in the past. I lost my mental strength there in the second game so I just had to dig deep and keep fighting.

[1] Nour El Sherbini 3-0 [Q] Nadine Shahin                     11-7, 11-8, 11-4 (22m)

I tried to get used to the court, I was trying to get my shots perfect in the first two games, they weren't... but I got better shots in the third, once I got used to the court conditions...

Nadine is one of the upcoming players and itís a very tricky first round, I had to be ready aand get into the mood of the competition.

[7] Nicol David (Mas) 3-0 [Q] Hania El Hammamy               11-8, 11-6, 11-9 (38m)

PSAReports:
The 16-year-old came through qualification to set up today's encounter with David and showed her unquestioned potential as she stuck with David in large parts. El Hammamy played a relaxed full-court game that challenged the eight-time World Champion, at times dominating the exchanges, but in the end it was David's class and ability to withstand repeated attacks that saw her through in just under 40 minutes.

It's great to see such a true talent coming through Ė I really enjoyed the match. She's a gutsy player and she kept coming back. I just had to keep putting the pressure on her. It was very close so I am pleased to come through 3-0.

When I was leading she relaxed and she hit some great winners and I maybe eased off a little as well. I had to step forward again so I'm pleased to be through and into the next round.


Photos Steve Line SquashPics

[Q] Leo Au (Hkg) 3-2 [7] Tarek Momen                5-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-9, 11-7 (80m)

Au Ousts Momen - PSA Reports

The shocks continued on the glass court at the University Club of Chicago as Hong Kongís Leo Au, the main draw qualifier, won a superb five-game match against Tarek Momen to secure his second round spot.

Overcoming 25 places on the World Rankings, Au matched World No.8 Momen through the encounter, with his lob and drop style of play frustrating Momen and tempting him into hitting winners from all angles and subsequently making just too many errors to win.

Au was dominated in the first as Momen started in strong style as he looked to set down a marker for the rest of the match but Au responded impressively to level the match. The Hong Kong man then found himself a game down after a high quality third went all the way to a tie-break Ė and in favour of Momen Ė but Au managed to respond once again to force a decider, which he squeezed 11-7 thanks to a series of errors from the racket of Momen.

I think I had an easy run in qualification and that allowed me to save some energy and focus on this match today Ė and I just wanted to play my best out there.

In the first game he started very well and was very sharp and focused but I just tried to get back to my game. Then when it got close in the last game, I really wanted to win it. I just tried to focus on each point and doing what I had to do to win each one.

Iím excited to come back for the second round now and give it my best shot.

James Willstrop (Eng) 3-0 [8] Omar Mosaad                                11-5, 11-5, 11-1 (34m)

Willstrop Demolishes Mosaad
PSA Reports

James Willstrop put in a masterclass performance, dominating from start to finish, as he dispatched Omar Mosaad 3-0 in just 34 minutes to open his Windy City Open campaign with a bang.

In what looked set to be the match of the night between the pair, two of the tallest on Tour and separated by just two places on the World Rankings, Willstrop came out firing. The Marksman lived up to his moniker as he slotted home winner after winner, striking cleanly and precisely, leaving Mosaad powerless to defend.

After taking the first 11-5, after racking 7-1 up, Willstrop quickly doubled his lead by the same 11-5 scoreline in the second. The third went by in a flash as Willstrop continued to hit winner after winner while Mosaad, spirit broken, aided the Englishmanís cause by gifting him a series of unforced errors. Mosaad fell 1-11 in the third as Willstrop completed the victory that sees him through in ominous form.

I had to be very focused because Omar is a very tough first round draw so I was ready for him. If felt like everything was coming off out there. Sometimes it works like that. Iím feeling good and striking the ball well so I canít be anything but happy with that.

I know it can change on any given day but itís a perfect start. Getting a strong first win and keeping the energy output to a minimum can only help in the long run Ė thereís more room in the tank for the tough matches later on.

You go out there expecting and preparing for a brutal encounter and the pain that comes with that, so to come away clean in less than 40 minutes is beyond expectation.

Iím not getting ahead of myself though. I just try and go day and day, recover and train well. Iíve enjoyed coming here over the years Ė itís a very enclosed and intimate venue.

[4] Ramy Ashour 3-0 [Q] Olli Tuominen (Fin)                    11-2, 11-8, 11-3 (23m)

Ramy on fire in the first game - very cold court, Olli just arrriving from 2 very long matches on the traditional court and being the first on the glass, the legs must have hurt - a bit scrappier in the second, but back on song in the 3rd, 5m 1st game, 8m second, 4m third.

Feels like three years since I was there last... Itís good to be back here Ė itís not easy, there have been a lot of ups and downs,

Itís hard to find the words to describe what Iíve been trough. Last night I didnít think I would get up and get on court today to play Ė the more you get injured, the more mental scars you get.

Today I was not going to get on court. The more  you get injured, it's not about wining or losing anymore, it's about not quitting.

I just keep trying, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and today I wasn't feeling well, I don't know if it's in my head or if it's really in my body: I'm losing perception.

And last night, Derek Ryan came to me, we starting chatting a little bit, he knows a lot about squash a lot, and he told me why I'm feeling the way I'm feeling. It's amazing to understand so much from somebody you just met and spent so little time with.

Today Ė Olli is an inspiration. What  Olli is achieving is just amazing. The way he keeps going, the way he is playing at his age, it's just incredible, I wish I can be like him when I get to his age!

So to come out today and ... win, it's......

[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy 3-2 Paul Coll (Nzl)     14-12, 11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 11-7 (94m)

PSAReports:
Defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy got the defence of his Windy City Open crown off to a winning start, coming through an epic 94 minute battle with New Zealandís Paul Coll.

Billed as the match of the day on the glass show court, the action lived up to expectation from the off as the duo engaged in rally after rally of attritional, high quality squash in the opener. Coll twice had game ball in hand only to see ElShorbagy come back at him and the Egyptian managed to take the ealry lead against the run of play, winning 14-12.

In the second, and with a point to prove, Coll began strong but it was ElShorbagy who stepped up the court, hitting with unrelenting pace and power to take time away from Coll, and he was rewarded as the errors flowed from the Kiwiís racket, leaving a frustrated Coll to rue his chances as ElShorbagy doubled his lead.

The third game saw ElShorbagy disappear in the early stages as it was his turn to produce the errors allowing Coll to gain an 8-2 advantage. The defending champion came back with a vengeance taking six consecutive points but Coll managed to re-group to eek it out 11-8 to keep the match alive and his run continued as he came through an edgy and intense fourth game to set up a decisive fifth.

And while he managed to save three match balls Coll couldnít do enough in the end to inflict what would heave a been a defeat of huge significance, meaning ElShorbagy will now face Mexican Cesar Salazar, the man who knocked him out of last monthís Motor City Open in a shock first round victory, for a place in the quarter-finals.

It was a very tough match today Ė heís a great player.

I thought it was a very fair but very hard match. I think we both played it in the right spirit. There was maybe a bit of experience that got me through in the end Ė at 8-8 in the third and 9-6 in the fourth he just kept coming back.

It was very tough mentally today. My season has been very up and down and itís been hard to understand what exactly is going on. I was fighting myself today as well as him.

I lost in the first round of my last tournament and today, having been 2-0 up and then going 2-2 and 0-3 down in the fifth, I was thinking itís time to go home. But I told myself to push so to win that fifth game is something Iím very proud of.

[6] Ali Farag 3-2 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col)     6-11, 11-4, 11-7, 4-11, 11-7 (65m)

PSAReports
Ali Farag inflicted yet another first round defeat on Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez as he came through their battle at the Windy City Open courtesy of a tough five game encounter.

Rodriguez has been out of sorts so far this season, falling to six firs round defeats prior to the trip to Chicago, but looked to have rediscovered some of his form as he tested Farag, moving into a 2-1 lead.

But the ĎColombian Cannonballí couldnít see to what would have been a confidence boosting win, falling to an 11-7 defeat in the fifth which sees Farag through to face Diego Elias in the second round.

Iím very, very happy Ė heís a very tough first round opponent. Heís very smart and changes his game plan.

Thanks to Karim Ali Fathi for the help he gave me today which was great.

 



H2H Men

 

 
Performance History in Windy City
(when you learn Ramy & Mohamed went straight to Semi-Finals in their first appearance,
while Nour El Sherbini beat them both, going to the Final!!!)

   

22nd Feb -Qualifying Finals

[8] Mayar Hany 3-2 [10] Kanzy Emad El Defrawy     6-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-5, 11-3 (49m)
[14] Hania El Hammamy 3-0 [6] Millie Tomlinson (Eng)              11-7, 11-7, 11-7 (34m)
[3] Nadine Shahin 3-0 Tong Tsz-Wing (Hkg)                             11-6, 11-8, 12-10 (34m)
[1] Salma Hany Ibrahim 3-0 Misaki Kobayashi (Jpn)                   11-9, 11-7, 11-2 (24m)

Karim Ali Fathi 3-0 [1] Grťgoire Marche (Fra)          9-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-3 (61m)

21st Feb, Qualifying 1st Round

[8] Mayar Hany 3-0 Wee Nee Low (Mas)                                    11-8, 11-6, 11-2 (20m)
Kanzy El Dafrawy 3-1 Haley Mendez (Usa)                     11-6, 10-12, 11-5, 11-3 (30m)
Hania El Hammamy 3-0 Amina Yousry                                        11-8, 11-8, 11-9 (38m)
[3] Nadine Shahin 3-2 Danielle Letourneau (Can)  11-5, 12-10, 2-11, 8-11, 11-8 (38m)

Karim Ali Fathi 3-0 Mike McCue (Can)                                       12-10, 11-5, 11-4 (40m)

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