Matthew marches past Mosaad in Cathedral Hall
By ALAN THATCHER and ELLIE MAWSON
English trio Nick Matthew, James Willstrop and Daryl Selby all breezed through to the second round of the Windy City Open in Chicago, presented by the Walter Family and EquiTrust Life Insurance Company.
The three-time world champion Matthew overcame tall Egyptian Omar Mosaad, Willstrop overwhelmed American wild card Chris Hanson and Selby dealt with a potentially difficult opponent in Karim Ali Fathi, all three players winning in straight games.
While Matthew and Willstrop had little time to rest after contesting Sunday’s National Championship final in Manchester, Selby was the most relieved after limping out of his semi-final defeat to Willstrop with an injury that appeared not to trouble him on the glass court set up under the chandeliers of the University Club’s Cathedral Hall, one of the most attractive locations on the PSA World Tour.
Matthew, who has won the Windy City Open on two previous occasions, looked at his best from the off as he was clinical to punish Mosaad’s unforced errors and seal a round two berth with an 11-5, 11-3, 11-5 win in 35 minutes.
“I’m excited to be in Chicago,” said Matthew. “I missed this tournament last year so I always look forward to coming here and I have always enjoyed coming to the club – even when it was a $25k tournament when I played that one.
“I sensed very early on in the match that there was something not quite right with Omar as he wasn’t moving as he usually does, especially to the front. Sometimes that makes it difficult because it can lead you into a false sense of security, because you get a couple of cheap ones and lose your focus, so I was just trying to stay on top of him and credit to him for finishing the match.”
A fourth Englishman in the draw, world No.25 Declan James, meets top seed Mohamed El Shorbagy in this atmospheric venue this evening.
It was plain sailing for the rest of the top seeds on day one of the action as women’s top seed Nour El Sherbini and men’s number two seed Ali Farag breezed through to round two.
Egypt’s World No.3 Farag came through an entertaining clash with Switzerland’s World No.24 Nicolas Mueller to secure his round two berth at this year’s event – which offers a record high prize fund of $250,00 in both the men’s and women’s draws.
Farag and Mueller constantly exchanged points in a thrilling battle much to the delight of the crowd inside the University Club of Chicago’s Cathedral Hall, with the Egyptian eventually claiming a 18-16, 11-4, 11-13, 11-5 victory.
“I think the first game was crucial,” said Farag following his win. “It gave me a confidence boost going into the second and I was able to run away with the points and it gave me an advantageous 2-0 lead.
“He came back very strong in the third but thankfully I had Nour [El Tayeb] and Marwan [ElShorbagy] in my corner and I could see he was getting a little tired. In the end I was more lucky that I didn’t have to play two qualifying matches before today.”
ElShorbagy ensured he will feature in the next round in Chicago after he defeated Hong Kong’s Leo Au inside the hour mark. The Egyptian pair will be joined in round two by Tournament of Champions winner Simon Rösner, who nullified the threat of Indian champion Saurav Ghosal.
Rosner said: “I have got the confidence after winning the ToC and being the runner-up at the Swedish Open. I played well because I was up against a really good opponent and so I had to carry on that form to beat him.
“First round matches are usually difficult because you have to get into the tournament but today I was right there and played from the start. I played aggressively and concentrated through the match which I think was the key in the end.
“You have to be on top of your game in every single match nowadays. Any qualifier who comes through and anyone who plays in the first round here is so good and so you have to play your best squash.”
Cameron Pilley had to fight hard to beat Scotland’s Alan Clyne in the longest match of the night, lasting 77 minutes, while fellow Australian Ryan Cuskelly held his nerve at crucial moments to see off French qualifier Lucas Serme, with two f the games going to tiebreaks.
In the women’s event, new British Nationals champion Tesni Evans was away from the spotlight on the club court as she made a solid start by beating Egypt’s Nada Abbas. Next up is No.3 seed Nour El Tayeb in a major test of her new-found confidence.
Sarah-Jane Perry was made to work hard for her 3-1 victory over America’s Sabrina Sobhy on the show court. Perry, who claimed the Oracle NetSuite Open title earlier this season, maintained her composure to close out a 12-10, 8-11, 11-7, 11-4 victory in 33 minutes.
“She’s a little bit of an unknown entity but we have played on the Tour before a few years ago,” said Perry.
“She hasn’t changed her game much, she has just got better. She will know how I play and will have taken lots of tips off her sister Amanda, who beat me recently.
“I maybe wasn’t expecting her to go for quite as many shots, and they all seemed to go in during the first two games.”
World No.1 El Sherbini made light work of India’s Dipika Pallikal Karthik, dispatching the World No.20 in just 20 minutes as she looks to capture her first ever Windy City title after finishing runner-up on the last two occasions to compatriot Raneem El Welily.
“I’ve reached the final a couple of times but never won it,” said El Sherbini who will now face United States No.1 Olivia Blatchford in round two.
“Maybe it’s because I always face the same opponent in Raneem [El Welily] but hopefully this time we can reach the final again.
“I love coming to Chicago and playing at this venue. It was a very tricky first round and against Dipika it is always tough so I’m just looking forward to this event and I hope this time it is going to be a good tournament for me.”
France’s Camille Serme and Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb are among the names to join El Sherbini in the next round after they defeated Canadian qualifier Danielle Letourneau and Egypt’s Yathreb Adel – who was forced to retire from her match due to injury – respectively in round one.
PSA $500,000 2018 Windy City Open Presented by the Walter Family and EquiTrust Life Insurance Company, University Club of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Results – Men’s First Round (Top Half):
James Willstrop (ENG) bt [WC] Chris Hanson (USA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-3, 11-5 (29m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Leo Au (HKG) 3-1: 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6 (55m)
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [Q] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-3, 11-7 (39m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 (40m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-5 (35m)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-1: 11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8 (77m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt [Q] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-1: 18-16, 11-4, 11-13, 11-5 (51m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt [Q] Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-0: 14-12, 11-3, 12-10 (54m)
Draw – Men’s First Round (Bottom Half; To be played February 23)
Diego Elias (PER) v Cesar Salazar (MEX)
Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [Q] Tsz Fung Yip (HKG)
Paul Coll (NZL) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v [Q] Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Borja Golan (ESP)
[Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v [Q] Max Lee (HKG)
Declan James (ENG) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Results – Women’s First Round (Top Half):
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt [Q] Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-0: 11-1, 11-2, 11-3 (23m)
Mariam Metwally (EGY) bt  Joshna Chinappa (IND) 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-4 (26m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [Q] Yathreb Adel (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 2-0 retired (10m)
 Annie Au (HKG) bt [Q] Nadine Shahin (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-4, 11-8 (25m)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt [Q] Nada Abbas (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 (27m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [WC] Sabrina Sobhy (USA) 3-1: 12-10, 8-11, 11-7, 11-4 (33m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-1 (20m)
 Olivia Blatchford (USA) bt [Q] Samantha Cornett (CAN) 3-0: 13-11, 11-2, 11-8 (32m)
Draw – Women’s First Round (To be played February 23):
[Q] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v  Joelle King (NZL)
 Nicol David (MAS) v Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
Joey Chan (HKG) v  Alison Waters (ENG)
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) v [Q] Coline Aumard (FRA)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v Donna Urquhart (AUS)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v Victoria Lust (ENG)
Salma Hany (EGY) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
[Q] Tinne Gilis (BEL) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA