Gaultier Takes 2014 Windy City Crown
The Frenchman took just 25 minutes to ease past a visibly hampered Ashour, whose recent run of bad luck with injuries appeared to resurface in his eighth title match-up with Gaultier, taking the match 11-7, 11-3, 11-4.
The victory gave Gaultier his first win over the Cairo-native in nine attempts, but he celebrated in reserved fashion.
“It is not enjoyable when you see your opponent injured and he has had so many injuries in the past and it is a shame as he is such an unbelievable player.
“But I am happy with how I played through the whole week. I had some tough matches and of course I’m happy to win the trophy as it is these moments that we all work so hard for.”
Victory saw Gaultier add to his 25 PSA World tour titles exactly a decade after losing in his last appearing in the final at the University Club of Chicago, when he lost to Nick Matthew, and lift a trophy for the first time since the 2013 US Open in October.
“The level of competition with guys like Ramy, Nick (Matthew), Mohamed (Elshorbagy) and all the others guys is so tough that there are only small things that make the difference now.
“Without all my team at home and the support of my family and sponsors I would never be in these finals and these moments would never happen so I’m really thankful to them.”
Speaking after the match, Ashour said: “I’m happy I reached the final today but I felt a little niggle.
“Sometimes these things get in the way of your dreams but that takes noting away from Greg’s win as he’s an incredible athlete.”
2014 Windy City Open: Final Result:
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Ramy Ashour (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-3, 11-4 (25m)
Massaro Storms To Windy City Success
“I WON THE WINDY CITY OPEN IN CHICAGO!!” screamed the exuberant 30-year-old from Preston to her Twitter followers later. “So happy!! Thanks everyone for the support! Celebration time!!”
Massaro went into the match 10-6 ahead in her career head-to-head Tour tally with El Welily – but the younger Egyptian was the winner the last time they met, in the Malaysian Open semi-finals last September.
With an error-free run in the fourth, when she dropped just three points, El Welily drew level.
But errors from both players in the decider took the score to 8-4 in Massaro’s favour. “Down 5-9, Raneem chose serve to Laura’s forehand and started really smacking it,” continued Wellington. “Laura hit the tin but followed it up with a winner, and then a stroke to take the match.”
“So obviously a little bit disappointed but all credit to Laura who played really well throughout the entire match,” added the Cairo-based 25-year-old. “I believe it was the crucial moments that made the difference and she definitely managed them better than I did.”
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt  Raneem El Welily (EGY) 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 3-11, 11-6 (59m)
Ashour And Gaultier To Contest Windy City Final
Egyptian World No.3 Ramy Ashour and French World No.2 Gregory Gaultier are set to renew their long-standing rivalry in the final of the 2014 METROsquash Windy City Open at the University Club of Chicago tomorrow.
The pair will meet for the 24th time on the PSA World Tour in a head-to-head series that the Cairo-born player dominates and he’ll be aiming to make it win number 20 in order to take home the Windy City Open title on it’s return to PSA World Series standings for the first time since 2007.
Ashour, who has recently returned to fitness following an injury-plagued four-month period, booked his place in the final following a 3-1 victory over World Champion Nick Matthew in a subdued match which saw the Englishman hampered by a back injury picked up in the third game.
“When your opponent is injured it is a very frustrating way to win a match,” said Ashour, who took just over an hour to win 11-9, 10-12, 11-1, 11-4.
“It’s not easy when someone is injured and you are trying to keep your focus.
“You try not to think about it too much, which is hard because even though we all play tough matches and want to win we also want the best for each other, but you still have to stay out there and stay focused until the last point.
“Nick and I always have tough battles and we bring the best out of each other. He’s a great player and such an amazing fighter so hopefully his back gets better soon and I’m sure we will play a lot more matches in future.”
Gaultier ensured his place in his 57th PSA World Tour final by defeating rising Egyptian star Mohamed Elshorbagy, the World No.4, in an impressive 3-1 display, his ninth consecutive win over the 23-year-old.
“I was very happy to win the match against Mohamed as it is never easy against him,”said Gaultier.
“It was a very tough battle, especially when he brought it back to one-all, and I had to stay mentally positive and strong and I think that is why I won the match.
“Winning a big event like the Windy City Open event would mean a lot to me,” he said.“It’s always an amazing feeling to play in a final so I’m very happy to be playing tomorrow.
“We train so hard every day just for that two minutes when you get to lift a trophy. It’s such a big adrenaline rush and an unbelievable feeling and that is what we all work for.
“I’m looking forward to it and I’m going to try and be as fresh as possible for the final and we will see what happens.”
2014 Windy City Open: Semi-final Result: Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6 [76 mins]  Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt  Nick Matthew (ENG) 3-1: 11-9, 10-12, 11-1, 11-4 [63 mins]
Massaro & El Welily To Contest Chicago Climax
England’s world No2 Laura Massaro survived her longest match for more than six years when she overcame French rival Camille Serme in a dramatic five-game Women’s METROsquash Windy City Open semi-final marathon.
In a dream final of the the top seed will face second seed Raneem El Welily after the world No3 from Egypt despatched New Zealander Joelle Kingin straight games – in the earlier semi which took one third of the time!
Serme, the No7 seed, secured her surprise place in the semis after upsetting England’s world No4 Alison Waters. “Camille is not messing around these days, bringing her best to the world’s best players, so everyone knew this match wouldn’t be easy, no matter which way it went,” reported event spokesman Jim Wellington. “It would be a tussle, with two conventional players at the highest level.”
Serme saved two game balls in the opening game, but it was Massaro who took the early lead. The higher-ranked English player was forced to save game balls in the second but, after rescuing five, it was Serme who ultimately took the game to draw level.
And, from eight-all in the third, underdog Serme – ranked four places behind Massaro – forged ahead to open up a 2/1 lead.
Massaro regained the upper hand in the fourth, however, to force a fifth game decider.
“Laura continued in game five with her excellent placement in the back corners, as well as conservatively using the front at the right times to 5-1,” continued Wellington. “Camille started to look fatigued as five went on, and was unable to apply the same pressure that she had used in the rest of the match. Play tightened up after this, but the lead would stick. Camille gave a big last push, but it was not going to be enough to beat the world number two today.”
The 11-9, 12-14, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6 victory in 90 minutes marks Massaro’s third longest match of all-time – but the longest since the women’s game went point-a-rally (PAR) in 2008. It also followed a confidence-boosting four-game win over Annie Au which ended a three-game losing streak to the Hong Kong number one.
“I was really pleased to come through the match,” said Lancashire lass Massaro after her semi-final success. “Camille’s playing really well and physically she always makes it hard.
“It was particularly tough given my win over Annie yesterday. I had been mentally preparing for that match and then when I won I remembered I actually have to re-group and focus on the semi-final now!
“I found that quite hard to do. It’s also the reason I am proud of my performance and glad I was able to bounce back well and play a good semi-final,” added Massaro, now in the 28th Tour final of her career and her second of the year.
By contrast, El Welily reached the 18th Tour final of her career – and her first of the year – in just 30 minutes, defeating No4 seed King 12-10, 11-8, 11-7.
The Cairo-based 25-year-old went into the match boasting a 5-0 career head-to-head record over the Kiwi.
But it was King who had the chance to take the first game at 10-9 in the opener. “But she tinned an easy drop from a winning position, and Raneem cruised on to take the game,” said Wellington.
“After winning the second, Raneem turned it up a notch in game three, moving, striking, and reading Joelle extremely well. Raneem seemed to have an answer for everything, holding her shots so that Joelle was late to the ball when she got there at all.”
The final will mark Massaro and El Welily’s 17th Tour meeting. Massaro boasts a 10-6 lead, but it was the Egyptian who was victorious in their most recent clash, in a 78-minute Malaysian Open semi-final last September.
01- Mar, Quarter-Finals:
Ashour Overcomes Willstrop In Windy City Thriller
Egyptian two-time World Champion Ramy Ashour was back to his sublime best at the 2014 METROsquash Windy City Open today, coming through an enthralling 76 minute quarter-final encounter against England’s James Willstrop 3-1.
Ashour was forced to display his entire arsenal of world-class ability to get past the World No.5 before eventually prevailing 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 in front of an enthralled crowd at the University Club of Chicago.
“Playing James is never easy,” said Ashour. “When you play such an accurate and sharp player you have to be 100 per cent at your best and today James was playing some immaculate squash.
“He really came out firing and took the first game and I had to really dig in. I felt like I started to find my rhythm in the second game and I’m very proud that I was able to dig in and do what it took to win the match.”
The Cairo-based player, who has been plagued by injury in recent months, will now face WIllstrop’s long-time domestic rival and current World No.1 Nick Matthew in the semi-finals in a repeat of the recent Swedish Open final.
“Playing Nick in the semi-final will be very tough,” he said.
“He’s an incredibly tough player and you have to push yourself beyond your limits to beat him. I have a lot of respect for his professionalism and he motivates me a lot and it’s always great to play him so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Sunday’s second semi-final will see World No.4 Mohamed Elshorbagy take on French World No.2 Gregory Gaultier after they came through their respective quarter-finals against India’s Saurav Ghosal and Germany’s Simon Rosner.
Gaultier was given a stern test by the German national champion, coming from one game down to secure his victory and set up a repeat of January’s Tournament of Champions semi-final when the Frenchman won an emotional encounter that saw him move to No.1 in the World Rankings, a position he has since vacated.
“It was a really tough match but I’m glad I have got through as I really had to up my play and take the ball earlier and try to move him around the court more.
“I’m happy with how I played and I’m feeling good at the moment. Mohamed is in great form and I’m going to have to be at my best to beat him so it should be a good match.”
2014 Windy City Open: Quarter-final Results: Nick Matthew (ENG) bt  Peter Barker (ENG) 3-0: 11-2, 11-6, 11-3 [44 mins]  Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt  James Willstrop (ENG) 3-1: 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 [76 mins]  Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-0: 11-6, 13-11, 11-7 [52 mins]  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Simon Rosner (GER) 3-1: 6-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-9 [75 mins]
Serme surprises to reach semis
The women are done and getting ready for the semi finals. Here in Chicago – Jim Wellington reports …
Game one was well contested with probing rallies, both players adjusting to the glass court with ease. The difference was Raneem’s length being better, forcing Wern to play more defensively out of the back corners, which opened up opportunities for the tricky Egyptian. In the middle of game two, Raneem hit her stride and started to control most of the rallies with solid movement and racquet work, often leaving Wern flat-footed. Wern pushed back in game three, but it was not enough to put the final result in doubt.
Joelle King (NZL) def. Emma Beddoes (ENG) 11-3, 10-12, 11-5, 9-11, 11-2 (74 min)
King’s glass court game was working from the start, hitting with depth that exposed Emma’s movement to the front, and volleying with precision to take game one. Beddoes adjusted quickly, making King put in a lot more effort to try to stay in control in game two. In fact, Beddoes started applying her own pressure and went up 7-3, only to have King run away with seven straight rallies with aggressive shot-making. Beddoes saved three game-balls to bring 10-10, and then took it 12-10.
With both players now on the board, the pace and tenacity went up, each fighting to get to the ball and keep it away from the other. With the ball being a little deader now, it seemed to suite King, scrapping her way to take the majority of the rallies. In the fourth, King looked like she could see the finish line, not letting up at all, and closing the increasingly short rallies. Beddoes fought back to hold two game-balls at 10-8, and was then hit in the mouth with King’s backhand followthrough at 9-10, causing bleeding.
It took less than ten minutes to stop the bleeding, and after several lets, Beddoes closed the game 11-9. Game fives are hard to predict. Joelle applied pressure with very good shots and didn’t make errors when it counted most. It was quite a tournament for Emma Beddoes, coming through two tough qualifying matches, knocking out a world #7, and almost beating world #5.
Camille Serme (FRA) def. Alison Waters (ENG) 11-4, 14-12, 11-6 (45 min)
After a tentative opening, Camille started to pull away with relentless pace and precision. Waters didn’t do anything wrong, but ultimately tinned several balls while attempting to change things. Waters started to hunt the volley more in two, and reduced her errors, which evened the play.
At 9-9, it was anybody’s game. Alison hit a nick and a tin – 10-10. Two winning drops – 11-11. Crosscourt winner, nick 12-12. Winning drop from Camille, tin from Alison – Camille is up two games to love. Play was also even in the third to 6-6, Alison wining in the front and Camille in the back in long, tiring rallies. Camille then pulled out several back and front-court winners in quick succession to take the match.
Laura Massaro (ENG) def. Annie Au (HKG) 8-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-7 (51 min)
Annie started more conventionally today, hitting more drives in the first rally than in last night’s match. Still, Annie’s power of misdirection is unequalled. Nothing in it at 8-8…Annie hits unreachable boast, unreachable straight drive, and another unreachable boast. Laura made it difficult in the second by hitting width, length, pace, and winners herself, keep Annie off guard as well. This, combined with a few more errors from Annie gave Laura a lead 9-6, and she converted at 11-8.
Massaro also gained advantage in keeping a significant amount of play on the right wall – Au’s backhand, and we saw a lot of backhand lobs from Annie. Even at 8-8, Au hits drop winner and drive winner, 10-8. Laura wins four in a row, and leads 2-1 in games. If Annie was going to beat Laura today, she would have to do it from difficult positions. And from 7-7, Laura made it too difficult for Annie to work her magic.
28-Feb, Day Three – last sixteens
Supreme Willstrop Dispatches Shabana In Windy City
English World No.5 James Willstrop put in one of his most impressive displays in recent months to defeat four-time World Champion Amr Shabana in straight games in the second round of the 2014 METROsquash Windy City Open today.
The 30-year-old Pontefract-based player, who’s previous three encounters with the Egyptian legend resulted in defeat, showed the skill and desire that saw him reach World No.1 status in 2012 to record an 11-4, 11-8, 11-1 victory.
Willstrop will now face maverick Egyptian Ramy Ashour, the current World No.4, in the quarter-finals with the winner set to meet either England’s World No.1 Nick Matthew or World No.7 Peter Barker for a place in the final.
“However accurately I played I knew that he would be do just the same so I had to play well and I think I did that.
“It wasn’t flashy squash, and the scoreline maybe doesn’t truly reflect the match as I had to put in a lot of effort, but I hit the right places and remained mentally positive throughout which I was pleased with.”
In a battle of European powerhouses, eight-time German national champion and World No.11 Simon Rosner impressed with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over 11-time Spanish national champion and World No.6 Borja Golan.
That win was Rosner’s second victory over top 10 ranked players in consecutive PSA World Series events, after he beat World No.8 Karim Darwish in the Tournament of Champions, and the Padderborn-based player was pleased with his performance.
“I think I played good, concentrated squash today with very few mistakes but I think it also wasn’t his day as he can play much better,” said Rosner.
“I’m pleased with how I played though and that’s more important than how my opponent plays and I’m very glad to be in another quarter-final, especially in the USA as I’ve enjoyed playing here recently.
“I’ve started to get more regular wins over higher ranked players such as Darwish and Borja and these are the wins you need to progress in the rankings but I’m just focusing on playing well and whatever happens in the rankings is secondary.”
Elsewhere there were wins for French No.2 seed Gregory Gaultier, Egyptian World No.3 Mohamed Elshorbagy and Indian champion Saurav Ghosal [who beat yesterday’s giantkiller Tarek Momen].
Beddoes Blows Down Perry In Windy City Upset
English qualifier Emma Beddoes pulled off her first win over Ireland’s world No7 Madeline Perry in six Tour meetings over the past six years when she upset the sixth seed in the first round of the Women’s METROsquash Windy City Open.
Beddoes, the world No23 from Leeds, took the opening game after fighting back from 8-6 down. But the experienced Perry, winner of her 14th Irish national title in December, regained control in the second to draw level.
Underdog Beddoes responded well in the third, however, and regained the lead.
“The fourth was a scorcher, everyone wondering if a qualifier could pull off a victory against a world number seven,” said event spokesman Jim Wellington. “She almost did – going up 9-5, and earning two match balls at 10-8. Stroke to Beddoes: she did!”
After the 11-9, 5-11, 11-4, 11-8 victory in 52 minutes, MC Kerry Fliss asked Beddoes what’s it looking like, moving forward: “All of the matches are going to be tough,” said 28-year-old Beddoes. “I just have to stay focused.”
Beddoes will now face fourth seed Joelle King for a place in the semi-finals. The world No5 from New Zealand beat Irish wild card Aisling Blake 11-5, 11-4, 11-6.
Another upset produced an unexpected quarter-finalist when Hong Kong’s unseeded Annie Au ousted Australia’s No8 seedKasey Brown 11-5, 11-4, 11-8.
Fliss complimented Au on taking the pace off the ball and exerting so much control: “Yes, that’s my game,” responded the 25-year-old world No11. “I have to play like that because I’m a little bit short so I don’t have the power that some of the other players have.”
Au will now line up against event favourite Laura Massaro, the world No2 from England who beat compatriot and former stable-mate Emily Whitlock, a 20-year-old qualifier, 11-7, 11-4, 11-2.
When asked about her upcoming clash with the Hong Kong left-hander, 30-year-old Massaro replied: “She beat me and a few weeks ago in Cleveland, so I’m looking forward to the rematch.”
There will be English interest in a third quarter-final when No3 seed Alison Waters takes on France’s Camille Serme. Londoner Waters defeated Hong Kong qualifier Joey Chan 11-8, 11-7, 11-5, while seventh seed Serme battled for 57 minutes to see off Egypt’s Omneya Abdel Kawy 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 12-10.
Dipika Pallikal‘s bid to reach the final for the second time since 2011 was halted by Asian rival Low Wee Wern when the No5 seed from Malaysia overcame the Indian number one 11-5, 8-11, 11-7, 12-14, 11-6 in a hard-fought 80-minute encounter.
Wee Wern will now face Raneem El Welily, the No2 seed from Egypt who ended English qualifier Sarah Kippax‘s run 12-14, 9-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-7.
27-Feb, Day Two – men’s round one bottom half, women’s qualifying finals
Mighty Momen Ousts Darwish In Windy City
Egyptian World No.12 Tarek Momen pulled off the upset of the tournament so far to dispatch compatriot Karim Darwish, the number six seed and former World No.1, in the first round of the 2014 METROsquash Windy City Open in Chicago today.
Momen, who was competing in Chicago for the first time, twice came from behind to eventually prevail 3-2 in a tough and tense contest and record his first ever career victory over Darwish.
He will now face Indian No.1 Saurav Ghosal in the second round on Friday after the Calcutta-based player beat Welsh wild card Peter Creed 3-0.
“That was definitely one of the biggest wins of my career,” said Momen.
“I have never beaten Karim before in my career so it’s a very special day for me today and I think I played really well. I had some concentration lapses which he took full advantage of and he made it hard for me, but I’m very pleased with how I kept mentally strong.
“There are so many positives for me to take from the match.
“I train with Karim a lot in Egypt and there has always been a mental barrier there. He’s a top player and I used to look up to him a lot and it’s hard when you are getting closer and it’s mentally very tough to breakthrough so I’m happy that I managed to break those shackles today.”
Spanish No.1 and World No.7 Borja Golan survived a tough and testing encounter against Columbian Miguel Angel Rodriguez in his first round match, coming through a feisty 86 minute encounter 11-5, 13-11, 11-13, 11-6 to set up an all-European encounter against German champion Simon Rosner in the second round.
“The first match of a tournament is always difficult for both players and today was no exception,” said Golan.
“It wasn’t the best quality match that we have ever played but I think it was a real mental challenge and those are the kind of games you have to get through in these tournaments.
“Miguel played really well today and matches against him are always difficult. We had some long, tough rallies and he showed his character when I had match ball in the third game and he managed to take that one so I’m pleased to have come through in the end.”
Elsewhere Egyptian trio Mohamed Elshorbagy, Omar Mossad and Karim Abdel Gawad progressed to the second round, beating Stephen Coppinger, Shawn Delierre and Karim Ali Fathi, respectively, while French joint World No.1 Gregory Gaultier wasted no time in dispatching English qualifier Joe Lee 3-0 in his opening match-up.
Kippax Conquers Grinham To Make Windy City Draw
It was sixth time lucky for England’s Sarah Kippax in the qualifying finals of the Women’s METROsquash Windy City Open when she claimed her first ever win over Australia’s former world number one Rachael Grinham – the highest-ranked player in the qualifying draw – to make the main draw of the Women’s Squash Association (WSA) Gold 50event at the University Club of Chicago in Chicago, USA.
Kippax, the world No24 from Halifax, dug deep to record the only straight games win of the day – beating the world No15 from Brisbane 11-4, 11-6, 12-10.
Kippax will now line up against Egypt’s No2 seed Raneem El Welily in the first round.
There were two further surprise English successes when Macclesfield-born Emily Whitlock and Leeds-based Emma Beddoes also secured places in the main draw.
Whitlock, the 20-year-old world No26 from Colwyn Bay, became the youngest and lowest-ranked player to qualify when she survived a testing five-game battle against experienced Nicolette Fernandes – beating the world No19 from Guyana 11-4, 9-11, 5-11, 11-8, 12-10.
World No23 Beddoes beat higher-ranked compatriot Sarah-Jane Perry 7-11, 3-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-6 to boost her chances of selection for the next England team.
Whitlock is drawn to face compatriot and former stable-mate Laura Massaro, the top seed, while Beddoes will take on Ireland’s No6 seed Madeline Perry.
Hong Kong’s Joey Chan completed the qualifiers line-up when she recovered from a game down to beat Japan’s Misaki Kobayashi 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 14-12.
26-Feb, Day One – men’s round one, top half
Resurgent Ramy Progresses In Windy City Open
The former World No.1 was returning to World Series action for the first time since the 2013 Hong Kong Open in December, when injury ended his tournament prematurely, and quickly found himself down against Pilley before showing his class to come through 8-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-3.
“Cameron is a great player who really pushes you to be at your best and he’s a very big hitter as well,” said Ashour.
“He came out firing today and won the first game and I had to work hard to try and contain him and I’m glad I managed to do that and come through the match.
“I have a day off now and I need to make sure I look after my body. My recovery has been going steady so far and for me it’s now a matter of working on my mental organisation.
“I need to work on organising my routine, what I’m eating and how I am on court and hopefully it will continue steadily.”
“Any time you win a match you are happy,” said Shabana.
“In the first round you never really know what will happen so I was just pleased to come through.
“I had a good run in New York to win the TOC but you try not to think about things like that. I’m just happy to be injury free at the moment and hopefully I can take the momentum forward and I’ll just take the rest of the tournament match by match.”