Matthew injury hands Ashour free-pass into Chicago final with Gaultier
RAMY ASHOUR got a free pass into the Windy City Open final against Gregory Gaultier after world number one Nick Matthew damaged his back midway through their Chicago semi-final last night.
Matthew twisted his back in the third game with the match level at one apiece. The Englishman took time out for medical treatment, but despite him returning to finish the eagerly anticipated showdown, the event was over as a serious contest.
Matthew said afterwards: “It was a frustrating end but credit to Ramy for twisting and turning me and never giving me a minute’s peace. I’ll be okay in a couple of days but you can’t beat Ramy if you can’t move.
“My body has been incredibly good to me over the past few years so I won’t give it too hard a time for letting me down on this one occasion. Hope it’s a good final tomorrow.”
So Ashour and World number two Gaultier are set to renew their long-standing rivalry.
The pair will meet for the 24th time on the PSA World Tour in a head-to-head series that the Cairo-born player dominates and he’ll be aiming to make it win number 20 in order to take home the Windy City Open title on it’s return to PSA World Series standings for the first time since 2007.
Ashour, who has recently returned to fitness following an injury-plagued four-month period, had sympathy for Matthew.
“When your opponent is injured it is a very frustrating way to win a match,” said Ashour, who took just over an hour to win 11-9, 10-12, 11-1, 11-4.
“It’s not easy when someone is injured and you are trying to keep your focus.
“You try not to think about it too much, which is hard because even though we all play tough matches and want to win we also want the best for each other, but you still have to stay out there and stay focused until the last point.
“Nick and I always have tough battles and we bring the best out of each other. He’s a great player and such an amazing fighter so hopefully his back gets better soon and I’m sure we will play a lot more matches in future.”
Gaultier ensured his place in his 57th PSA World Tour final by defeating rising Egyptian star Mohamed Elshorbagy, the world number four, in an impressive 3-1 display, his ninth consecutive win over the 23-year-old.
“I was very happy to win the match against Mohamed as it is never easy against him,” said Gaultier.
“It was a very tough battle, especially when he brought it back to one-all, and I had to stay mentally positive and strong and I think that is why I won the match.
Having lost to Ashour in three finals during 2013, Gaultier will be hoping to overturn his recent run against the Egyptian.
“Winning a big event like the Windy City Open event would mean a lot to me,” he said. “It’s always an amazing feeling to play in a final so I’m very happy to be playing tomorrow.
“We train so hard every day just for that two minutes when you get to lift a trophy. It’s such a big adrenaline rush and an unbelievable feeling and that is what we all work for.
“I’m looking forward to it and I’m going to try and be as fresh as possible for the final and we will see what happens.”
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 3-1  Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) 11-7, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6 [76 mins]
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) 3-1  Nick Matthew (ENG) 11-9, 10-12, 11-1, 11-4 [63 mins]
Pictures by Marian Kraus Photography