WINDY CITY OPEN: SEMI-FINALS – AS IT HAPPENS

The semi-finals of the 2018 Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family & EquiTrust Life Insurance Company takes place today with a place in the coveted World Series event final up for grabs.

There are a number of family links in action as married couples Ali Farag and Nour El Tayeb and Tarek Momen and Raneem El Welily could all reach the final.

Another possibility could see an-all sibling clash in the men’s final as both Mohamed and Marwan ElShorbagy could face each other.

In the women’s draw, New Zealand’s World No.9 Joelle King and England’s Sarah-Jane Perry will be looking to disrupt the Egyptian theme as they face defending champion El Welily and El Tayeb – who took out top seed Nour El Sherbini in the last round – respectively.

Here’s today’s order of play
Semi-Finals

Match: [7] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [8] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
Result: 3-2
Scores: 11-6, 11-9, 3-11, 14-16, 11-7 (73m)

Egypt’s World No.3 Nour El Tayeb came through another mammoth five-game encounter to reach her first ever Windy City Open final, as she saw off England’s World No.8 Sarah-Jane Perry.

The two players had only played each other once before, with the encounter coming earlier in the season at the China Squash Open.

That match also went to five, as the Egyptian and Englishwoman played out another thrilling battle under the chandeliers of the University Club of Chicago’s Cathedral Hall.

El Tayeb took the first two games, taking complete control from the outset, however, Perry battled back in the third as the shackles came off the Englishwoman to put in a dominant performance to take an 11-3 victory.

Birmingham-born Perry continued to show her metal as she held four game-balls in the fourth to level the scores, with El Tayeb fighting back each time before the 27-year-old Englishwoman eventually claimed the fourth on a 16-14 tie-break.

The Oracle NetSuite winner looked to have turned things around as she went 4-1 up in the fifth, before, Cairo-born El Tayeb – who came from 2-0 down against both Tesni Evans and Nour El Sherbini in the previous rounds – once again proved her resilient nature to claim an 11-6, 11-9, 3-11, 14-16, 11-7 victory in 73 minutes.

“After I won the first two games, I started to feel nervous,” said El Tayeb.

“I was thinking ‘am I going to be in another final? This is huge’ and I let go of thinking about the actual points and the squash.
“In the fourth, I started to play well again but then she won it I was very nervous and I’m happy I won of course – I think I’m going to be the queen of 3-2!

“I don’t think I would have won without my coach and Ali [Farag]. I had to have Ali sit down and not warm-up so that I could see him after every point so hopefully he can carry on the momentum and we can have another family in the final.”

Match: [4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [2] Ali Farag (EGY)
Result: 3-0
Scores: 11-6, 13-11, 11-7 (48m)

Egypt’s World No.4 Marwan ElShorbagy put in a powerful performance to dispatch compatriot and World No.3 Ali Farag in straight-games to reach his second successive Windy City Open final.

The Egyptian rivals have played each other four times on the PSA World Tour previously, with each player taking it in turns to take victories. However, ElShorbagy made sure to break that cycle, securing back-to-back wins over Farag on the PSA World Tour.

The last time the two played in Chicago was at the exact same stage of the tournament last year and ElShorbagy made sure the result was the same as he put in a clinical performance against the World No.3.

It was a tight battle in the first as Farag looked nervous on court – after just watching his wife, El Tayeb, compete in a tight five-game battle – as ElShorbagy took the first.

U.S. Open winner Farag managed to regain his composure to build up a lead in the second to hold two game balls before ElShorbagy struck back to take it on a 13-11 tie-break to double his advantage.

From that moment on, Farag struggled to find any rhythm to settle into the match, in contrast, ElShorbagy – who saw off Tournament of Champions Simon Rösner in the last round – looked in his best form to win 11-6, 13-11, 11-7.

ElShorbagy will now either face older brother Mohamed or World No.7 Tarek Momen in the final.

“Every time I come back to Chicago, I have the best tournament,” said ElShorbagy.

“I’m so happy tor reach another final in Chicago and if I could get my first ever World Series title then I would just definitely choose to do it here. I’ve always played well here, I really like the city and the people, so I’m delighted to be in another final.

“Ali has been playing really well recently, he is in great form and has got to World No.3 – which is career high – and he’s just giving a really tough time to all of his opponents.

“I really respect him, he has done so well this season and I’m sure he’s going to keep playing well and I think he can become World No.1 in the future.

“If my brother wins today then that would be amazing, and I really hope he can. We played in the World Championship final and if we could play in Chicago that would be fantastic.”

Match: [9] Joelle King (NZL) bt [2] Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Result: 3-2
Scores: 7-11, 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 12-10 (60m)

New Zealand World No.9 Joelle King put in an emphatic display to knock out three-time Windy City Open champion Raneem El Welily in a five-game thriller to reach her first ever World Series final.

Going into the match the head-to-head records were strongly in favour of the Egyptian World Champion, however, King did take the last meeting – a straight-games win in the final of the 2018 Cleveland Classic and the 29-year-old Kiwi made no mistake in her game plan to take out the defending champion.

El Welily – who was targeting her fourth Windy City crown – looked determined in the first game as she hit with fierce accuracy to take the opener. However, King came back strong in the second to become the only player to take a game off El Welily so far this tournament.

It was clear then that El Welily was beginning to feel the pressure as King was in fine form to hit her shots with precision as she survived a late surge from El Welily to win 7-11, 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 12-10 in 60 minutes.

“Raneem and I have been playing together since we were 13-years-old,” said King following her huge win.

“She has always been better than all of us and we were always chasing her. I think we bring out the best in each other, we have got quite contrasting styles and it seems to make for some good squash.

“I enjoyed the atmosphere, the crowd was amazing and I just felt really good. I think each match I’ve got better and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

“I’m like a fine wine – I get better with age! I’m enjoying my squash. At the start of last year it was kind of a turning point for me. I was looking down the barrel of either giving it up or throwing myself out there and it seems to be paying off.”

Match: [1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [6] Tarek Momen (EGY)
Result: 3-0
Scores: 11-9, 11-7, 11-5 (45m)

Egypt’s World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy saw off compatriot Tarek Momen in straight-games to reach his seventh PSA World Tour final this season.

ElShorbagy – who will return to the World No.1 spot next month – was in clinical form to keep his record of not dropping a game so far this tournament as he downed Momen to set up a tantalising final clash with younger brother, Marwan.

It was a nervous start from both players before ElShorbagy settled down after taking the first game to ruthlessly dispatch Momen 11-9, 11-7, 11-5 in 45 minutes.

“I think the first game was really crucial,” said ElShorbagy.

“I think we were both nervous at the start of the match. Each one of us made eight errors in the first game, which is not good enough for either of us, but I think that was the nerves.

“Once I took that first game it gave me the confidence to go on and take the advantage and implement my game more. He has been playing well, it’s the best season he has ever played, and he is playing with confidence.

“It’s great to be in another final, it will be my third final in Chicago, won one, lost one. So, I’m just really happy to be back here in the final and very happy to be playing my brother, he beat me here last year, so I will be looking for revenge.”

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