French General makes it seven finals in a row
By SEAN REUTHE
World No.2 Gregory Gaultier and World No.8 Ali Farag will meet in the final of a PSA World Tour event for the second tournament in succession after they claimed respective wins over James Willstrop and Marwan ElShorbagy on semi-finals day at the inaugural Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash Classic.
Over $25,000 worth of prize money will be up for grabs in the final, a record amount for a squash tournament containing a 16-man draw, and Gaultier ensured that he will compete in a seventh successive Tour final after he defeated Willstrop by an 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 margin.
Gaultier, the 34-year-old from France, lost his World No.1 ranking to Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad earlier this month, but a win over Farag in tomorrow’s final will see him reclaim top spot in next month’s World Rankings.
“I’m happy with my performances throughout the tournament,” said Gaultier. “It’s a big mental exercise for me to push through with almost no recovery between tournaments because we have such a short time to go home. We only have a couple of days before we go again.
“You get your head into competition mode again and it’s really tough, but that’s what I train for and I spend all my time making sacrifices to play at that level.”
Farag, meanwhile, made it back-to-back Tour finals for the third time in his career after he came through in four games against World No.5 ElShorbagy.
ElShorbagy came into the match off the back of a big win over three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour in the previous round and had beaten Farag in their last meeting in the semi-final of February’s Windy City Open, but Farag hit his lines well in a clinical display to take it 11-7, 11-4, 7-11, 11-5.
Gaultier and Farag met in the final of the Grasshopper Cup less than a fortnight ago, with Gaultier winning 3-0 to lift a sixth Tour title in a row.
“Marwan had a great win yesterday against probably one of the best players in the history of squash,” said 25-year-old Farag.
“I’m very happy with the way I played, but I just have to give him credit for such a good tournament and such a good season. He’s such an unbelievable player.
“I’m very happy to reach a second final back-to-back. It’s one thing to be able to beat the top players, but to do it consistently is another and I’m very happy to be there. Hopefully I can go a step further this time.”
Coverage from the final of the Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash Classic begins at 14:00 local time (PDT) and will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe Only).
PSA M150 Men’s Pacific Market International Bellevue Classic 2017, Boys & Girls Club Hidden Valley Field House, Bellevue, Washington, USA.
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 (42m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 11-4, 7-11, 11-5 (38m)
Final (May 20):
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA