French ace so happy to beat Farag for fifth title in a row
By NATHAN CLARKE in Zurich
Frenchman Gregory Gautier picked up the 39th title of his career – and his fifth consecutive tournament win in 2017 – after defeating Egyptian Ali Farag in the final of the 2017 Grasshopper Cup in Zurich, recording his 23rd consecutive PSA Tour match win in the process.
The 34-year-old, who in April became squash’s oldest ever World No.1, hasn’t lost a competitive match since January, winning the Swedish Open, Windy City Open, British Open and El Gouna International in succession.
And he made it five in a row after narrowly edging past World No.8 Farag courtesy of a 3-0 scoreline that didn’t truly reflect the competitiveness of the 53 minute match.
Farag posed arguably the stiffest challenge Gaultier has faced during his recent run as he read the Frenchman’s game well to counter Gaultier’s attacks and cause him trouble in all four corners of the court.
After losing the first two games narrowly, Farag found himself with two game ball opportunities in the third – which would have changed the dynamic of the match. But he was left to rue what could have been as Gaultier managed to stem the tide and come through 11-8, 11-9, 14-12 and continue his charge.
“I’m really happy to win the title and I felt like I played well today, but 3-0 doesn’t reflect the battle because we played almost an hour,” said Gaultier.
“I knew he was playing well this week as well and that it would be tough. I had to tactically play simple and not open he court up for him and I was ready for it.
“I had to put in a big push in the third to come back from behind because my energy was dropping and he was getting better and better. I was very happy to finish it in three.
“I’ve had an amazing run since January, but there’s no secret to the success. I’ve been working hard my whole life and have a team supporting me and working with me every day – and that work has been paying off. I had a bad run in 2016 with injuries and that has really motivated me this season as well.
“I’ve still got two more events to play this season so hopefully I can keep it going and keep my level up.”
A good run in his next event, the Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash Classic 2017, could also see Gaultier reclaim the World No.1 spot he lost to Karim Abdel Gawad at the start of this month.
Speaking after the match Farag said: “He was better than me in the first but at the end of that game I felt like I was getting into it and finding a way to play him. I was playing well but he came back very strong in the third.
“It was a flip of a coin at the end, had I won I that game I think it would have gone to five, but there are no regrets. I’ve had a great week here and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved.”
PSA M100 Grasshopper Cup 2017, Puls 5, Zurich, Switzerland.
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Ali Farag (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 14-12 (53m)
Pictures courtesy of PSA