Windy City Open 2024

Windy City Open 2024 : Day EIGHT- Finals

[1] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-1 [2] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 11-7, 6-11, 11-4, 11-4 (50m)

[1] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-1 [3] Paul Coll (Nzl) 11-8, 5-11, 11-7, 15-13 (73m)

Top seeds Farag and Sherbini beat defending champs to claim the titles

World number ones and top seeds Ali Farag and Nour El Sherbini won the 2024 Windy City Open titles with  wins over defending champions and third seeds Paul Coll and Nouran Gohar on finals night at the University Club of Chicago.

Farag had beaten Coll in the final of the 2020 Windy City Open and lifted silverware once again under the chandeliers of the University Club’s Cathedral Hall following an 11-8, 5-11, 11-7, 15-13 victory which has seen him win his sixth PSA title of the season.

Farag has appeared in the final of all eight tournaments he has played this campaign, with 2022 Windy City Open champion Coll being the only man to beat him. Those victories came in the finals of the U.S. Open and Hong Kong Open, meaning this was their third meeting in a Platinum-level final.

“I’m very relieved after missing opportunities to finish out the match,” said Farag “It’s testament to Paul’s character, he never gives up until the very end. I was preparing for a fifth game and I think that settled me down a bit and made me play a little bit better. I have the utmost respect and admiration for Paul the way he raises his game season after season.

“The University Club has played host to so many amazing battles and so many amazing memories. Thank you to all the sponsors throughout the years. We’re missing the Walter family this year, but they have shown incredible support for our sport and it’s one of the reasons we will be playing the Olympics in 2028. Thank you to them and everyone who has put this together.”

El Sherbini has also lifted her second Windy City Open trophy after she got the better of Gohar by an 11-7, 6-11, 11-4, 11-4 scoreline to win her sixth tournament of the season.

The Egyptian pair were going head-to-head for the 30th time on the PSA Tour, with El Sherbini having won 21 of the previous 29 meetings, including the final of theTournament of Champions just over a month ago.

That match had seen El Sherbini fight back from 2-0 down to deny Gohar a first title since returning from a plantar fascia injury in her heel. It was a more controlled performance from the reigning World Champion this time around, with a second-game wobble the only blemish in an otherwise dominant performance as she earned the 40th PSA title of her career.

“I’m happy that I played the squash that I wanted to play today,” said El Sherbini. “This is one of the best seasons [in her career]. I’ve been playing really well from the start of the season, I don’t think I’ve won this many tournaments in one season, but I still wouldn’t say this is my best season. I’m happy with it, but I want to stay motivated for the rest of the season.

“There was a lot happening the whole week for me, there were a lot of things on my mind. I’m glad I got them out and I just tried to focus on today’s match. I was almost out in the second round and I wasn’t happy with my performances. Nouran has been playing amazing from the first match, so I just tried to enjoy it and I’m really happy that I played well today.”

El Sherbini’s and Farag’s victories are particularly special given the Windy City Open has marked its 40th anniversary this week, while the opening day of the tournament marked 50 years since the creation of the International Squash Players Association, which would later become the PSA.

Windy City Open 2024 : Day SEVEN - Semi-Finals

[1] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-1 [5] Gina Kennedy (Eng)   11-5, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8 (45m)
[2] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-1 [3] Hania El Hammamy (Egy)   11-4, 11-8, 6-11, 11-5 (70m)

[1] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-2 [7] Mazen Hesham (Egy)   7-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-3, 11-2 (65m)
[3] Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-0 [5] Mostafa Asal (Egy)   11-6, 11-3, 11-1 (30m)

Semis : Defending champs Coll and Gohar set to face top seeds Farag and Sherbini

Reigning champions Paul Coll and Nouran Gohar will have the opportunity to retain their titles at the Windy City Open  after they claimed wins over Mostafa Asal and Hania El Hammamy at the University Club of Chicago.

Kiwi Coll will appear in his third successive Windy City Open title decider after he got the better of Asal with an 11-6, 11-3, 11-1 scoreline after just 30 minutes of action.

“Mostafa is a really tricky opponent, so I had a clear game plan in my head, but it’s all about executing it,” said Coll. “I’m stoked with how I came out aggressively and played at the pace that I wanted to play at. I took the game to him, which I haven’t quite done in the past, so I’m really happy with that and I’m looking forward to another battle tomorrow.”

Coll will go up against top seed Ali Farag in a repeat of the 2018 final and the New Zealander remains the only person to beat Farag this season, following wins in the U.S. Open and Hong Kong Open finals.

Farag earned his place in his second Windy City Open title decider after he came from 2-1 down to oust fellow Egyptian Mazen Hesham. It’s the eighth successive tournament in which Farag has reached the final and follows up his win over Hesham in the Houston Open final less than two weeks ago.

“I had to dig very deep, mentally, physically and tactically,” Farag said. “For the first game and a half Mazen was outplaying me. He was hitting better length, better winners and had a better balance overall. Mazen and I are very good friends off court, but on court the two of us want to kill each other, we want to win.”

Women’s World #3 Gohar is through to back-to-back Windy City Open finals after she defeated  Hania El Hammamy in a repeat of the 2022 Windy City Open final.

El Hammamy had won their most recent match at the Florida Open last month – a 99-minute epic – but Gohar was able to gain her revenge with a clinical performance, closing out an 11-4, 11-8, 6-11, 11-5 victory to set up a final meeting with top seed Nour El Sherbini.

“Playing Hania in the semis is not easy, but I think I had a good game plan with my coaches before the match and I executed it pretty well,” said Gohar, who will compete in her third final of the season.

“I hope I can carry on that form for tomorrow’s match and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s final. In four or five matches I’ve been leading 2-0 and then she’s won the third and I’ve managed to close it out in four. I think I had that experience in the back of my mind and I knew that if I got a new ball it would be a fresh start. I told myself it was 0-0 and there was just one game you had to win.”

El Sherbini, the 2020 Windy City Open champion, reached her fifth final at this event after she battled past England’s Georgina Kennedy to win 3-1 to notch up a ninth successive win over the English #1.

“It was a tough match, Gina was playing really well, and she’s been playing amazingly the whole tournament,” said El Sherbini. “I knew it was going to be a tough one. We had some tough matches last year, so I’m happy I won and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s finals. When you’re not playing your best squash, you have to push yourself mentally and physically and believe you can win even if you’re not playing the squash you want to play.”

Windy City Open 2024 : Day SIX - Quarter-Finals (top)

[3] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 3-0 [7] Tinne Gilis (Bel) 11-6, 11-4, 11-7 (38m)
[2] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-0 [8] Olivia Weaver (Usa) 11-7, 11-2, 11-8 (42m)

[5] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-2 [2] Diego Elias (Per) 7-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-6, 11-6 (83m)
[3] Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-0 [9/16] Victor Crouin (Fra) 11-2, 11-6, 11-4 (38m)

Asal ousts Elias as semi-finalists are settled in Chicago

Fifth seed Mostafa Asal reached the semi-finals of the Windy City Open  for the first time after he overcame second seed Diego Elias in a five-game thriller at the University Club of Chicago.

The pair have struck up quite a rivalry over the last few years, with each of their last five meetings lasting well over an hour, and often being controversial in nature. The most recent of those was a five-game marathon at the Tournament of Champions, which went Elias’ way after 90 minutes of action, marking back-to-back wins for the Peruvian.

Elias looked on course to make it three on the bounce when he took a 2-1 lead, but Asal  produced fine performances in the next two games to seal the victory.

“It’s unreal,” Asal said. “Just to be playing Diego in the ‘new Mostafa’ form is difficult. It brings back all the bad days, but it’s more flowing, it’s good squash. “There was just a little bit of time where he was not clearing or I was not clearing, but it’s just two big guys, so it was really well dealt with by the ref and credit to him. He makes the matches quiet and calm and I’m happy with my performance for sure.”

Asal’s opponent in the last four will be defending champion Paul Coll after he got his revenge over Frenchman Victor Crouin following his surprise defeat at January’s Tournament of Champions. Coll, aiming to win his third PSA World Tour Platinum title of the season, controlled the match to claim an 11-2, 11-6, 11-4 victory.

“He got me 3-0 a month ago, so I was happy to be able to get revenge today, and I’m looking forward to another semi-final here in Chicago,” said Coll. “I was feeling a bit better in myself compared to ToC and I knew what I had to do. I executed the game plan from the first rally to the last. This is one of my favourite venues, I love how compact it is, the ambience around the room is amazing and the crowd is as well, so I always have good vibes here.”

The latest chapter of the enthralling rivalry between Nouran Gohar and Hania El Hammamy will be staged in the Windy City Open semis after they scored wins over USA’s Olivia Weaver and Belgium’s Tinne Gilis in the women’s event.

Gohar outplayed Weaver, the last remaining US hope, completing an 11-7, 11-2, 11-8 win after 42 minutes of play to continue her title defence.

“It’s tough to play against Olivia,” said Gohar. “We share the same coach in Rodney Martin so it’s never easy, but I’m very pleased with the way I played, with my performance in general, and the tactics. I think I managed to execute the game plan well and so far, I’m happy. I love it here in Chicago.

Gohar and El Hammamy will now meet in a repeat of the 2022 Windy City Open final and it will be their 21st meeting on the PSA Tour, with Gohar winning 13 of them. Gohar got the better of El Hammamy with the title on the line two years ago, but 23-year-old El Hammamy will have a shot at revenge in tomorrow’s semi-finals after sweeping Gilis aside in just 38 minutes.

“I’ll take any win that I get in three,” said El Hammamy. ‘It’s better for me to be fresh and ready for the semis, especially against Gohar. It’s always physical, it’s always long and being able to get through in three gives me an advantage. It’s another match this season [against Gohar], it’s very challenging as always. I’m excited for it.”

Windy City Open 2024 : Day FIVE- Quarter-Finals (top)

[1] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Sabrina Sobhy (Usa) 11-8, 11-3, 11-3 (24m)
[5] Gina Kennedy (Eng) 3-1 [4] Nele Gilis (Bel) 11-9, 4-11, 11-6, 11-5 (62m)

[1] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-0 [6] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 11-2, 12-10, 11-4 (36m)
[7] Mazen Hesham (Egy) 3-2 [4] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng) 4-11, 11-9, 9-11, 14-12, 11-9 (81m)

Hesham and Kennedy produce upsets to reach semis

Egypt’s Mazen Hesham and England’s Georgina Kennedy reached the semi-finals of the Windy City Open after they upset fourth seeds Mohamed Elshorbagy and Nele Gilis on the first day of quarter-final action at the University Club of Chicago.

Hesham beat Elshorbagy 3-2 at the Houston Open last week – his second straight win over the Englishman after losing their previous 11 encounters – and he made it three in a row with another dramatic victory here, coming back from two games to one and match ball down to secure victory.

“Today was really hard, mentally and physically,” said Hesham. “It’s really hard to beat Mo twice in a row, and I only played him last week, so I knew he would come at me really hard to get his revenge. What a fight, man. The guy keeps fighting until the last minute. “For a guy like me who was almost not going to play again because of the injuries, any day on court is a happy day. I hate losing, but I’m a much better loser now. I hope this can keep going for a bit and I enjoy my squash more and more.”

Hesham will go up against top seed Ali Farag for a place in the Platinum-level final after he dispatched  Karim Abdel Gawad in the other men’s quarter-final.

In the women’s event, Kennedy booked a place in her second Platinum semi-final, beat Gilis in 62 minutes.

“That was a massive win for me,” Kennedy said. “Nele has been the one to beat recently, she’s been picking up all the titles. I played her recently in Singapore and she got the better of me. Now she’s No.4 in the world, she has a little bit of different pressure because she’s the higher-ranked player and the rest of us are targeting her.”

Kennedy will take on top seed Nour El Sherbini for a place in the title decider after the Egyptian beat USA’s Sabrina Sobhy in three games.

Windy City Open 2024 : Day FOUR - Round Three (bottom)

[7] Tinne Gilis (Bel) 3-0 Melissa Alves (Fra) 11-8, 11-5, 11-5 (30m)
[3] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Rowan Elaraby (Egy) 11-5, 11-6, 11-4 (34m)
[8] Olivia Weaver (Usa) 3-0 [9/16] Amina Orfi (Egy) 11-6, 11-4, 11-8 (41m)
[2] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Salma Hany (Egy) 11-2, 11-5, 11-9 (30m)

[3] Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-0 [9/16] Baptiste Masotti (Fra) 11-6, 11-8, 11-7 (51m)
[9/16] Victor Crouin (Fra) 3-1 [8] Tarek Momen (Egy) 11-9, 11-5, 8-11, 11-8 (66m)
[5] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-1 Sébastien Bonmalais (Fra) 7-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-2 (53m)
[2] Diego Elias (Per) 3-0 Adrian Waller (Eng) 11-3, 11-2, 11-8 (33m)

Defending Champs through as last eights are settled in Chicago

Reigning champions Paul Coll and Nouran Gohar booked their quarter-final berths at the Windy City Open after impressive performances against Frenchman Baptiste Masotti and Egypt’s Salma Hany at the University Club of Chicago.

Coll remains on course to reach his third straight Windy City Open final,  and the next opponent in his path will be France’s Victor Crouin after he upset eighth seed Tarek Momen to become the only player outside the top eight seeds to reach the last quarters.

“Baptiste is a dangerous opponent and he can hit some outrageous winners,” said Coll. “I had to avoid that middle area of the court and I did that at the end of each game. I’m very happy to get off in three, I’ve got a rest day tomorrow and I’m looking forward to the quarters on Monday.

Peru’s second seed Diego Elias and Egypt’s fifth seed Mostafa Asal will renew their rivalry in the next round following wins over England’s Adrian Waller and France’s Sebastien Bonmalais.

Women’s World #3 Gohar produced a clinical performance to book her spot in the last eight, beating fellow Egyptian Hany in just 30 minutes, and will now take on USA  #2 Olivia Weaver for a place in the last four, with Weaver producing an immaculate performance to take out 16-year-old Egyptian Amina Orfi.

2022 runner-up Hania El Hammamy also advanced after a dominant win over the in-form Rowan Elaraby, and she will take on Belgium’s seventh seed Tinne Gilis, who stormed past France’s Melissa Alves.

“There is pressure, but as Billie Jean King always says, pressure is privilege,” Gohar said. “I’m happy with the way I played, Salma and I go way back, we’ve been playing junior events since we were nine years old. I have a lot of respect for her, it was very clean today and very enjoyable.

Windy City Open 2024 : Day THREE - Round Three (top)

[1] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-1 [9/16] Farida Mohamed (Egy) 8-11, 12-10, 15-13, 12-10 (59m)
[9/16] Sabrina Sobhy (Usa) 3-1 Lucy Turmel (Eng) 11-2, 3-11, 11-5, 11-3 (40m)
[5] Gina Kennedy (Eng) 3-2 [9/16] Siva Subramaniam (Mas) 7-11, 11-4, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6 (61m)
[4] Nele Gilis (Bel) 3-1 [9/16] Satomi Watanabe (Jpn) 11-9, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6 (60m)

[1] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-1 Leonel Cardenas (Mex) 11-9, 6-11, 11-5, 11-4 (46m)
[6] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 3-2 [9/16] Miguel Rodriguez (Col) 6-11, 11-4, 10-12, 11-7, 11-9 (82m)
[7] Mazen Hesham (Egy) 3-1 [9/16] Fares Dessouky (Egy) 7-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-5 (53m)
[4] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng) 3-0 [9/16] Mohamed ElSherbini (Egy) 11-7, 11-4, 12-10 (33m)

Top seeds overcome stiff tests in Chicago

Top seeds Nour El Sherbini and Ali Farag advanced to the quarter-finals of the Windy City Open, but were made to work hard for their wins at the University Club of Chicago.

El Sherbini came from a game down against fellow Egyptian Farida Mohamed, eventually running out the winner after 59-minutes of intense action. 2020 champion Sherbini has reached the quarter-finals of every World Tour event she’s played since 2015, but that record looked under serious threat midway through this encounter, as she needed to save game balls in each of the last three games. El Sherbini will take on USA’s Sabrina Sobhy in the last eight after Sobhy beat England’s Lucy Turmel to reach her first Windy City Open quarter-final.

“It wasn’t an easy second round,” said El Sherbini. “Farida is a very good player and an attacking player. She fights until the end, and I wasn’t very happy with the way I was playing. I haven’t played her for a long time, so it took me a while to get used to her game. “I’m happy that I won and I’ll try to play better in the next round. It was a very tight match and they were tight games. I was leading by two or three points in every game but then that disappeared. I try not to think when I’m game ball down, I just play as if it’s 7-7 or 8-7.”

Fourth and fifth seeds Nele Gilis and Gina Kennedy both needed an hour’s play to get through to the quarters, Kennedy beating Siva Subramaniam in five, Gilis getting the better of Satomi Watanabe in four.

Men’s 2020 champion Farag was put through his paces by Mexico’s Leonel Cardenas, needing four games and 46 minutes to get past the World #34. Farag finally took control mid-way through the second game, and his reward will be a last eight meeting with sixth seed Karim Abdel Gawad. Gawad twice came from a game down to see off Colombian veteran Miguel Rodriguez in the final match of the day, a gruelling encounter totalling 82 minutes.

“Leo was very solid all the way through,” said Farag. “In the third I started playing longer rallies. I thought he was getting tired, but he kept on pushing and he never gave me any easy points. It’s a good lesson for me to learn that I should start playing like that from the very beginning. I was trying to go for too many shortcuts and too many quick winners. You can’t get away with that at this level of squash, so I’m very happy that I managed to come back strong in the third and continued that until the end.”

Fourth seed Mohamed ElShorbagy was the only 3-0 winner of the day as he beat Mohamed ElSherbini, and he’ll face Mazen Hesham for a place in the semis.

Day Two : Sabrina boosts home hopes in Chicago

USA’s Sabrina Sobhy claimed her first ever win over Nour El Tayeb at the eighth attempt to send the 2018 champion out of the Windy City Open at the second round stage.

The American #3 produced a spell-binding performance to win 12-10, 11-9, 15-13 and she will take on England’s Lucy Turmel in the last 16.

“It’s a huge win for me,” Sobhy said. “I’ve grown up playing with Nour and everyone knows her talents and her capabilities, she pushes everyone to their absolute max. She’s come back with amazing wins when she is 2-0 down, match ball down or whatever. I had lost to her every single time and she’s made me feel really uncomfortable on court and like a beginner. To come out with this performance, it’s what I’ve been working towards. I’m really proud of how I competed and held my composure on court today.”

Turmel is one of three 17/32 seeds to reach the last sixteen, alongside Japan’s Satomi Watanabe and France’s Melissa Alves.

In the men’s draw, defending champion Paul Coll got the better of Egypt’s Youssef Ibrahim in a repeat of the 2022 final, earning an 11-8, 11-2, 11-9 win to reach round three. Coll will line up against Frenchman Baptiste Masotti in the last 16.

“I felt good out there, I’ve got my head right this week and I feel good with the way I want to play,” Coll said. “I always love coming to Chicago, I love this court with the chandeliers and everything, and I love how close the crowd is, it’s awesome. I have good vibes and hopefully we can keep the performances going this week.

Mexico’s Leonel Cardenas, England’s Adrian Waller and Frenchman Sebastien Bonmalais, all 17/32 seeds, all advanced to the last sixteen .

Windy City Open under way in Chicago

The 2024 Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family kicked off today at the University Club of Chicago as the PSA celebrated 50 years of professional squash.

On February 21, 1974, the International Squash Players Association – the precursor to the PSA – was founded to govern the men’s professional game. Now, the PSA Tour is a thriving professional squash circuit with the men’s and women’s games administered by a unified governing body.

The Windy City Open is one of eight PSA World Tour Platinum events to take place during the 2023-24 season and 32 matches took place on day one of the prestigious event, with men’s US No.1 Timothy Brownell scoring an opening day victory over Indian veteran Saurav Ghosal to mark his Windy City debut with a win.

“Saurav is one of my heroes,” Brownell said afterwards. “Ever since I saw him play Ramy Ashour in the World Team Championships about 10-15 years ago, I went to my dad and said: ‘Look at this guy, he grabs his arm, I used to play left handed, he’s like me and he’s giving Ramy a hard time’. He’s one of the fairest guys on tour, so hats off to him.”

Brownell will take on Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez in the next round. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Tomato Ho earned a second round berth against the highest ranked American in the women’s draw – World No.7 Olivia Weaver – after she ousted wildcard and Chicago native Ava Lin in straight games.

“It’s never easy to play the wildcard because the crowd is supporting her,” said Ho. “But it was nice to have a match with her and the crowd was amazing. I feel satisfied with my results recently and I’m happy to be in the second round of the Windy City Open. I’m looking forward to playing her [Olivia Weaver], it’s another home player, so I’m against the crowd again!”