Sunday,24 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1335, (9 - 15 March 2017)
Sunday,24 February, 2019
Issue 1335, (9 - 15 March 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Al-Welili back on stage

Egyptian women’s squash world No 3 Raneem Al-Welili clinched the Chicago Windy City Open 2017 for the third time in a row

Raneem and Nour

Al-Welili added the Chicago Windy City Open 2017 title to her previous 2015 and 2016 crowns following a 3-1 win over teammate Nour Al-Sherbini. French world No 3 Gregory Gaultier took the same title in the men’s, the 36th title of his PSA World Tour, defeating Marawan Al-Shorbagi 3-1. It was a new achievement for Al-Shorbagi who defeated his brother Mohamed Al-Shorbagi, the world No 1, in the semi-final.

Marawan wept after beating his elder brother in a touching scene which didn’t seem to soften up Gaultier. Gaultier, competing in a 75th PSA career final, has been in scintillating form so far in 2017. After finishing as runner-up at January’s Tournament of Champions and winning the Swedish Open in February to face Al-Shorbagi, the 23-year-old was appearing in a World Series tournament final for the first time in his career.

The Frenchman started slowly, looking nervous as he struggled to settle in an opener which went the way of a composed looking Al-Shorbagi. But Gaultier’s big game experience came to the fore as he pushed on to secure the honours and his 13th PSA World Series title 5-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-4.

“I am really happy – it’s amazing to win this kind of major titles so it will be nice to see my name on this beautiful trophy once again,” Gaultier, who also won the 2014 edition, told reporters. “It is a lovely place to play and I have been coming here for a long time. I have a lot of friends here and have always enjoyed coming back. Today Al-Shorbagi caused me a lot of trouble in the first game. He has got a lot of confidence from this week winning some big matches, especially from beating his brother the world No 1. He proved this week that he is a top player – he came through five tough matches to reach this stage which was a tougher week than me. I had to find a solution and to put more pace into it and get in control because when I was playing at his rhythm he was just a better player than me.”

Al-Shorbagi brothers

Despite the loss, Marawan said he was extremely happy. “I am very proud of my achievement in this tournament. I have training very well and at last it paid well. I was very self-confident and won difficult matches and my brother’s was the most difficult one. I hope I will better my ranking in the future and I hope I will proceed to be one of the top three in the world.”
Al-Welili, meanwhile, in a repeat of the 2016 final, put in the best performance of her year so far to stop world No 1 Al-Sherbini 10-12, 11-7, 11-7, 11-7.

The world No 3 played superb squash from the off, using her backhand drop with devastation to punish any loose play from Al-Sherbini. Despite losing a close first game 10-12 it looked comfortable for Al-Welili as she returned to the form that took her to world No 1 in 2015.

“I’m very, very happy, it’s fantastic to win here again for the third time,” said Al-Welili. “I’m glad with how I performed after a tough match yesterday and I didn’t really expect to play that well. She played really well in the first game and I wasn’t sharp enough. But half way through the first I started to find my spots and my angles. Even though I lost it I knew that I was on my way to finding the right plan. Chicago feels like my lucky city – I’m always happy to be here.”

During the trophy presentation it was announced the 2018 Windy City Open will become the most lucrative PSA World Tournament ever, boasting a $500,000 prize fund that will be split equally between men and women.

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