Sherbini and Farag triumph in Chicago thrillers
Just as they did in last year’s World Championships in Chicago, Nour El Sherbini and Ali Farag lifted the Windy City Open titles after thrilling five-game finals at the University Club of Chicago.
Sherbini edged a see-saw battle with World #1 Raneem El Welily, prevailing 11-9 in the decider, while Farag came from two games down to deny Kiwi Paul Coll a first Platinum title.
“Finally I got to win this tournament,” said El Sherbini after winning her 21st PSA title. “Every year I try very hard and I think Raneem is the favourite here. She has won it three times before and she plays her best here, but I am glad it was my turn this time.
“This is one of the few tournaments I had not won so it was very important for me to win this title. I wasn’t feeling very well and I was dealing with a lot, but I am really glad that I made it to the last day and that I kept digging in until the last point in the match.”
“I was telling Nour [wife, El Tayeb] after the second that I still had it in me to win the last three games,” said Farag after claiming the 19th PSA title of his career.
“I could have been the one that was 2-0 up but all credit to Paul, after beating Mohamed and Karim and I was out of it after the second. I tried to hang in there and at least if I didn’t win it then I had put some work into his legs. It has been a great week for myself and I could not be prouder.”
Semis : Coll joins three Egyptians in Chicago Finals
New Zealand’s Paul Coll produced a second seeding upset in a row as he beat fourth-seeded Karim Abdel Gawad in four games to reach his first Platinum event final. He’ll be up against top seed Ali Farag, who continued his impressive form with a straight-games win over world champion Tarek Momen.
Coll, who had lost his previous three encounters with Gawad, said : ““It was quite draining, it was very tense at the end there. “I thought I had won it three times at the end but the ref disagreed, which is fine. I just had to keep my head which was mentally really draining. I am trying to constantly learn and improve my game, I am not No.1 for a reason and there are areas of my game that I can improve on”
Farag, after beating Momen in a repeat of their World Champs final here last year, said: “I keep surprising myself day after day. The first game was a bit weird, neither Tarek or I did that well at the beginning, and then Nour gave me a couple of tips in between and they served me well up until the middle of the third, and then I saw the finishing line way too soon. I saw Tarek loosening up a little, so I’m very happy to get back in it for sure.”
Top seeds Raneem El Welily and Nour El Sherbini will contest an all-Egyptian women’s final after victories over Nouran Gohar and Sarah-Jane Perry, both in straight games.
Sherbini, who suffered a run of defeats at Perry’s hands last year, said: “I have been struggling against her a few times, but I was making sure that every time I play her that I have a game plan and I stick to it. To be honest, it is not one of the best weeks for me, but I am glad that I won and I am in the final.”
Welily, after reaching her fifth Windy City final, said: “Chicago has obviously been one of those tournaments which started things for us a few years ago. All thanks to Mr Mark Walter and the Walter Family for putting on such a great event year after year, for raising the bar higher each year and we’re blessed to be here in Chicago every year.”
Quarters : Coll downs second seed ElShorbagy
Quarter-finals at the University Club of Chicago saw all but one of the matches go to seeding, the big exception being Paul Coll‘s straight game win over Mohamed ElShorbagy, the Kiwi’s first win over the current world #1.
Coll now meets Karim Abdel Gawad, who needed five games to see off Simon Rosner in 70 minutes, the longest match of the day. World Champion Tarek Momen also needed the full five games to see off veteran Spaniard Borja Golan, setting up a semi-final with top seed Ali Farag who ousted Diego Elias in straight games.
Just as in the men’s, three Egyptians will feature in the women’s semi-finals. Top seed Raneem El Welily and third seed Nouran Gohar both progressed in straight games at the expense of American opponents Olivia Blatchford Clyne and Amanda Sobhy, while world champion Nour El Sherbini beat Camille Serme – playing the 13th successive Egyptian opponent – in four games.
England’s Sarah-Jane Perry ended the run of Rowan Elaraby, beating the youngster in five games to set up a semi-final against Sherbini.
Day FOUR : Serme survives
No seeding upsets on Day Four in Chicago as the quarter-finalists were settled, but Frances’s ToC champion Camille Serme had to save match ball on the way to beating Hania El Hammamy in a five game thriller.
Serme’s run of Egyptian opponents (now up to 13!) continues with world champion Nour El Sherbini, who came from a game down to beat Donna Lobban, up next.
Sarah-Jane Perry had just as tough a match as Serme, beating Yathreb Adel in five game that took 84 minutes to complete. Another England v Egypt clash looms for eighth seeded Perry as Rowan Elaraby eased past Lucy Turmel in straight games.
Less drama in the men’s matches as Karim Abdel Gawad and Simon Rosner both won in straight games to set up a last eight meeting, while Paul Coll beat Declan James in four and will face second seed Mohamed ElShorbagy for a place in the semis after world #1 received a walkover against the injured Mohamed Abouelghar.
Day THREE : Olivia and Amanda create Windy City history
It was a good day for the USA as Round Three of the Windy City Open got under way at the University Club of Chicago on Day Three, as Olivia Blatchford Clyne and Amanda Sobhy put two Americans into the quarter-finals for the first time in the event’s 26-year history.
Olivia came through a tough five-setter to deny Egypt’s Nadine Shahin 11-9 in the fifth while Amanda twice came from a game down to get past Hong Kong’s Annie Au. In the quarters Olivia meets top seed Raneem El Welily, who eased past compatriot Salma Hany in three, while Amanda meets third seed Nouran Gohar, who was equally clinical in her victory over Nele Gilis.
Men’s top seed Ali Farag won his all-Egyptian match against Omar Mosaad in straight games to set up a quarter-final against sixth seed Diego Elias, who edged past Joel Makin in three close games, while third seeded Tarek Momen, who beat Iker Pajares in four, meets a second successive Spaniard in Borja Golan, who ended the run of Youssef Soliman in four tough games.
Day TWO : Tayeb and King downed in Chicago upsets
The second day’s play at the University Club of Chicago witnesses some major upsets as 2018 women’s finalists Nour El Tayeb and Joelle King, the fourth and sixth seeds, both bowed out, beaten by Egyptian youngsters Rowan Elaraby and Nadine Shahin.
Twelve of the women’s seeds progressed, including title favourites Raneem El Welily, Nouran El Sherbini, Nouran Gohar and Camille Serme, joined by England’s Lucy Turmel and Australia’s Donna Lobban who both secured second successive upset wins as they beat Victoria Lust and Joshna Chinappa.
In the men’s draw the top seven seeds all went through to round three as Youssef Soliman got the better of Marwan ElShorbagy in an all-Egyptian upset.
In a battle between two top ten players Simon Rosner came from two games down to edge past Mohamed Abouelghar, while Omar Mosaad prevailed in five against Gregory Gaultier and Mathieu Castagnet took out Saurav Ghosal in a 100-minute marathon.
Getting under way in Chicago
The latest PSA Platinum event got under way at the University Club of Chicago , with 32 first round matches.
There were five upsets in the women’s draw, which saw Sabrina Sobhy, Lucy Turmel, Liu Tsz-Ling, Donna Lobban and Melissa Alves all beat their 17/32 seeded opponents, all in five games!
In the men’s draw Arturo Salazar and Abdulla Al Tamimi were the only upset winners, although it was a close call for World Junior Champion Mostafa Asal as he edged past compatriot Youssef Soliman in a bruising 98-minute marathon, while Greg Lobban saved five match balls as he squeezed past Max Lee in five.
Day Two seeds the top seeds enter the fray with play still across four courts.
Windy City draws released
The draws for the 2020 Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family have been released, with men’s World No.2 Ali Farag and women’s World No.4 Nour El Sherbini returning to Chicago a year on from their historic World Championship triumphs inside Union Station’s Great Hall.
That World Championship – the sport’s first $1,000,000 tournament – replaced the 2019 Windy City Open, but the Platinum event returns between 27th February and 4th March with a host of blockbuster fixtures in store in the University Club of Chicago’s iconic Cathedral Hall.
The Windy City Open is the most lucrative tournament on the PSA World Tour outside of the World Championship, with $500,000 on offer split evenly across the men’s and women’s events. A spot at June’s PSA World Tour Finals will also be up for grabs.