Malaysia’s Rachel Arnold, fresh off the back of reaching the quarter finals of the Squash on Fire Open, will take on Hong Kong’s Tsz-Wing Tong in the opening match of the day, before US No.1 Shahjahan Khan takes on Hong Kong’s Tsz Fung Yip in the first men’s match.
Khan is one of four Americans in action on the glass court, with Haley Mendez taking on Egypt’s Sana Ibrahim, wildcard Andrew Douglas doing battle with England’s George Parker, and Sabrina Sobhy taking on Australian wildcard Sarah Cardwell in the last female match of the day.
The English trio of James Willstrop, Julianne Courtice and Nathan Lake join Parker in action on the glass court, with the former World No.1 taking on Qatari No.1 Abdullah Mohd Al Tamimi in the last match of the day. Lake will face Egypt’s Omar Mosaad and Courtice will meet Welshwoman Emily Whitlock.
Order of Play
Arnold Downs Tong In Tough Four-Game Battle
Malaysia’s Rachel Arnold is the first woman through to the second round of the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family from the opening day’s glass court action, after she defeated Hong Kong’s Tsz-Wing Tong in a tightly contested four-game clash.
The pair were doing battle on the PSA World Tour for the eighth time, with Arnold having just won one of those, but it was their most recent match-up, at the Malaysian Open Squash Championships in November 2021.
The Malaysian started the stronger of the two in this one, and won the first 11-4, but had to save several game balls in the second, in a game that lasted 20 minutes, as she eventually took it 17-15. Arnold then lost the third on a tie-break, but regrouped to win the fourth, taking the victory to book her place in the last 32, where she will face Egypt’s World No.3 Hania El Hammamy.
“We have played each other a lot of time already, so we know each other’s games. It is alway tough playing her. I am really happy that I got the win today, she is always a tough player to play. I lost to her last time so I am happy with this!” She explained.
On facing the World No.3 tomorrow, Arnold said: “We have played each other twice now, and I have lost 3-0 both times. I ned to rest and then get ready for tomorrow!”
Rachel Arnold (MAS) bt Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG) 3-1: 11-4, 17-15, 10-12, 11-9 (54m)
Yip Battles Past US No.1 Khan
Tsz Fung Yip (right) on court against Shahjahan Khan (left)
Hong Kong’s Tsz Fung Yip is through to the second round of the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family, after holding off a comeback from US No.1 Shahjahan Khan to win in five games.
The first game was a lengthy one, with Yip, the former World No.21, winning it 12-10. He then won the second game with ease to take a two game advantage. After losing the third, Yip then went on to have match balls in the fourth, but he was unable to take advantage of any of them.
Khan won it 14-12, much to the delight of the home crowd, but it was the Hongkonger that would eventually take the victory, as he was able to fight through the fifth, winning it 11-4 to set up a clash with either Alan Clyne or Cesar Salazar in the last 32 on Thursday.
“I am happy to be able to win the match, because as you can all see, Shah is very, very tough. Any break of focus would have been a nightmare, so I am very lucky, and happy to have got through in the fifth,” he said.
“During the pandemic, it was not easy. We did not have much chance to compete, especially overseas, so it will take some time to gain back the momentum. I am hoping I am going in the right direction to gain that momentum again, and to try to get back to a higher rank.”
Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) bt Shahjahan Khan (USA) 3-2: 12-10, 11-3, 8-11, 12-14, 11-4 (69m)
Ibrahim Overcomes Home Hope Mendez To Reach Round Two
19-year-old Egyptian Sana Ibrahim made her way into the last 32 of a Platinum event for the first time on foreign soil, as she got the better of Haley Mendez to make the second round in Chicago.
Ibrahim’s only other appearance in the last 32 of a major tournament came at the CIB PSA Black Ball Squash Open in March of 2021, and she struggled to start with in this contest, losing the first game on a tie-break.
She fought back to win the second 12-10, a mirror image of the first, before then running out a comfortable winner, allowing Mendez to score just five points across the last two games of the match. Ibrahim will now face Indian No.1 Joshna Chinappa in the second round on Thursday.
“I am so happy, and it’s my first time playing this tournament and I am so happy to win. I was nervous because she is a big player, I love her play so much!” Ibrahim admitted.
“It is not easy to play her in her hometown but I am so excited and I sam happy to win because so many times I have lost in the first round so this means so much.”
Sana Ibrahim (EGY) bt Haley Mendez (USA) 3-1: 10-12, 12-10, 11-1, 11-4 (35m)
Parker Through In Three Against Douglas
George Parker (fore) on court in Chicago
England’s George Parker comfortably made his way through to the second round of the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family, as he defeated American wildcard Andrew Douglas in straight games on the glass court.
The Englishman was in complete control throughout the contest, and although Douglas played some nice shots at times, it was Parker who came out the winner, advancing to the last 32, where he will face India’s Saurav Ghosal.
“I never take anyone lightly at this level. I watched him play before, studied him a bit to try and get a heads up. I thought he was quality down the backhand side, I thought he matched me, so I had to be on my best form,” he explained.
“I thought I played really well, my short game was the best it’s been for a long time, so I was very happy with that!
“Never played him [Saurav Ghosal]. I know he is a really nice guy, very technically up there and very fair! I have nothing to lose, you know. These first rounds are my finals, so once I get past that, I don’t try and take it easy, but there’s a bit of pressure off, and I can have a really good go at a top 15, top 10 player. I never normally do that well, but it’s about time I started pushing them a bit more!”
George Parker (ENG) bt [WC] Andrew Douglas (USA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-6 (31m)
Mosaad Fights Past Battling Lake
Omar Mosaad (right) got the better of Nathan Lake (left)
Egypt’s Omar Mosaad made his way into the second round in Chicago, after fighting his way past a spirited Nathan Lake, playing at his home club, with the ‘Hammer of Thor’ winning in four games.
The former World No.3 started the brighter of the two, and was able to take the first game, but England’s Lake, who recently moved to Chicago, had the crowd behind him, and they spurred him on to take the second game.
From there, though, Mosaad was on the front foot, and was consistently standing further up the court than the Englishman. That paid off as he went on to win the match, despite seeing five match balls saved in the fourth game. He will now face either Scotland’s Greg Lobban or Egypt’s Moustafa El Sirty in the last 32.
“To play against Nathan, it was going to be really hard. He is a big guy like me, so I knew I had to move as much as I could. Of course, he just moved to Chicago, so everyone was cheering for him, hopefully for me tomorrow!” the Egyptian said.
“I am really happy for my win today, and I think the last few tournaments, I have started to play well, and I hope to keep this going with the next match.
“I started training really hard the last couple of matches. I think I am good now. I just needed to play some matches and I think I will back it up soon! I will try to do my best and hopefully I will win!”
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-1: 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9 (60m)
Sobhy Dominates To Reach Second Round
Sabrina Sobhy (right) on court with Sarah Cardwell (left)
USA’s Sabrina Sobhy delighted the home crowd with a top notch performance to book her place in the second round in Chicago, spending less than 20 minutes on court in a dominant performance against Australia’s Sarah Cardwell.
Cardwell was the wildcard for this event, her first outside of the Oceanic region for 18 months, and Sobhy was the one who was in control throughout, moving the Australian around the court.
“It’s pretty important, but just to play well is more important, and to have a good opponent and to have fan is also very important! I am happy that I won in three, and I am happy that I accomplished all those other things, so I am pleased with how it went!” Sobhy said.
“I am very happy with how the first couple of tournaments have gone. It was definitely a confidence boost, but it was also quite exhausting.
“It is a weird balance of feeling good from the past couple of wins, and coming into this tournament with a little lower energy than maybe if I didn’t play these past events, but that is part of the journey and learning experience, to progress and to keep getting stronger with each game. We’ll see how this week goes!”
Sabrina Sobhy (USA) bt [WC] Sarah Cardwell (AUS) 3-0: 11-3, 11-5, 11-3 (19m)
Willstrop Ousts Al Tamimi
James Willstrop (right) takes on Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (left)
Former World No.1 James Willstrop got off to a winning start as he put in a masterful performance to see off the threat of Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi.
The 38-year-old had won both of their previous encounters, but they were meeting for the first time since 2017.
Willstrop certainly had to work hard for his points today, but his superior control enabled him to move his opponent around the court throughout the 63-minute fixture.
At times it looked like Al Tamimi was trying to force the winners too often, resulting in a number of tins from the World No.49’s racket. In contrast, Willstrop was patient and chose his moments well to pick his opponent off, and he was duly rewarded with a two-game lead.
Al Tamimi put together a good run of points in the third and built up an 8-4 lead. Willstrop was able to get back to within a point, only to see Al Tamimi ramp up the pressure once more to halve the deficit.
The fourth game was neck-and-neck, with one memorable rally seeing Tamimi forced into a huge dive to play a back-wall-boast just to stay in the contest. Willstrop ultimately prevailed though, and his reward will be a round two fixture against New Zealand’s Paul Coll.
Willstrop will line up against New Zealand’s Paul Coll in the next round.
“I think you saw how much I wanted to win, the competitive edge is right there at the minute,” said Willstrop afterwards.
“I just love it, everyone was great and it means a lot to us to not play in front of dead crowds. Thanks so much to everyone for turning out, it’s a pleasure.
“The body feels alright. Everyone keeps asking me what I’m doing, but age is just a number, isn’t it? As long as I feel alright mentally, I’ve got an unbelievable physio back home who looks after me every week and puts me together, I owe her all of this really.
“I’m pleased to play, pleased to compete, and I love being in Chicago and playing, so it’s really great.”
James Willstrop (ENG) bt Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-1: 11-9, 11-5, 8-11, 12-10 (63m)