Squash Mad

Gregory Gaultier and Ali Farag to clash in Bellevue Classic Final

Gregory Gaultier in impressive form against James Willstrop

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.

Ali Farag and Marwan ElShorbagy shake hands

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.

Semi-Finals:
[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [4] James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 (42m)
[3] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [2] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 11-4, 7-11, 11-5 (38m)

Final (May 20):
[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [3] Ali Farag (EGY) 

Pictures courtesy of PSA

 

Posted on May 20, 2017

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About The Author

Alan Thatcher

Founder of World Squash Day, Squash Mad and the new Squash 200 Partnership, building clubs of the future. Founder of the Kent Open and co-promoter of the St. James's Place Canary Wharf Classic. Author and Public Speaker.

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