Thursday, February 9, 2023

Nick Matthew’s great escape in Chicago thriller

Nick Matthew and Borja Golan clash in mid-court
Nick Matthew and Borja Golan clash in mid-court        Pictures by STEVE LINE (

Reigning champion survives three match balls against Borja Golan


Defending Champion Nick Matthew was forced to come from two-games down and save three match balls in a 109-minute thriller to avoid a shock exit at the hands of Spain’s Borja Golan during the second round of the 2016 Windy City Open presented by Guggenheim Partners and Equitrust Life Insurance Company, PSA World Series tournament, currently taking place at the University Club of Chicago.

unnamedInside the club’s stunning Cathedral Hall, Matthew, who led the duo’s head-to-head record 6-0 prior to their Chicago clash, found himself unable to halt the charge of a red-hot Golan.

Spain’s most accomplished player produced arguably the best squash of his career to take the first two games courtesy of some wonderfully composed, aggressive play that saw him outmuscle and outmanoeuvre Matthew.

However, the 35-year-old three-time World Champion showed just why he is known as ‘The Wolf’ as he mounted an incredible comeback, taking the third and fourth games by the narrowest of margins. The duo then traded points like a pendulum in a nervy fifth game before Matthew saved three consecutive match balls, grasping victory at the first opportunity to come through 10-12, 9-11, 11-3, 13-11, 14-12.

Borja Golan dives to keep the ball in play against Nick Matthew
Borja Golan dives to keep the ball in play against Nick Matthew

“I feel like a bit like I’ve won the tournament right now,” said Matthew afterwards. “It is mad that that was only a second round match.

“In the first two games, especially the first game, it was the best I’ve ever seen him play – I don’t think I played badly but I was 2-0 down.

“I won here last year and the thought of losing in the second round was driving me on – I just kept fighting and fighting – sometimes you just have to do whatever you can to win. I went all the way to Plan Z today.”

Mathieu Castagnet needs a breather after his incredible retrieval against Daryl Selby
Mathieu Castagnet needs a breather after his incredible retrieval against Daryl Selby

Matthew will now line up against Egyptian Tarek Momen in the last eight after he downed World Junior Champion Diego Elias, while Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet put in a spellbinding performance to secure his last eight berth at the expense of Daryl Selby.

After coming from 2-0 down to defeat Ali Farag in his first round encounter, Castagnet came through in more straightforward fashion today, defeating Selby 3-1 in a match that also saw one of the greatest points in squash history.

Back in the match after taking the third game, Selby played all out attack when an amazing turn of events at 7-5 in the fourth game saw Castagnet dive full length in the front left corner to get an implausible retrieval before getting up off the floor and chasing Selby’s volley to the back right corner. Somehow, incredibly, Castagnet not only retrieved the ball but managed to hit a forehand straight winner to the amazement of the crowd.

“It’s not been an easy draw for me because Ali and Daryl are such good players,” said Castagnet.

“You have to be focused and fight in every rally and that’s exactly what I did today so I’m very happy.

“I have no explanation about that shot in the fourth. I love this sport and if I have to dive and push myself to play the shot, I will do whatever I have to to win. That’s my personality and my commitment and maybe that’s why I’m now a top ten player.”

Castagnet faces World Championship runner-up Omar Mosaad in the last eight.

Raneem El Welily goes short against Annie Au
Raneem El Welily goes short against Annie Au

In the women’s draw, defending title holder Raneem El Welily secured her place in the quarter-finals after a stuttering display against Hong Kong’s Annie Au.

After annihilating her first round opponent Coline Aumard for the loss of just seven points, El Welily slipped back into the inconsistent play that has dogged her recent appearances on the PSA World Tour as she engaged in an all-out shootout with Au. It was a match that rarely saw a rally last more than five shots and where her superior shot selection eventually got her out of trouble.

“She played very well and probably the best she has played against me,” said El Welily.

“I had to dig in and stay confident and focused as much as possible. It’s too early to talk about the final or anything yet. I’m happy to be in the quarters and I’m looking forward to the next match.”

Amanda Sobhy overcomes Joelle King
Amanda Sobhy, sporting a Stars and Stripes tattoo on her thigh, overcomes Joelle King

El Welily will face dangerous compatriot Nouran Gohar in the next round where either victor could face an in-form Amanda Sobhy, the American number one who sent out a signal of interest to her championship rivals as she negotiated a difficult looking encounter against former World No.4 Joelle King in emphatic fashion, dismissing the New Zealander 3-0 after just 25-minutes.

“Joelle in a very good player and so tough to beat – if you give her any opportunities she takes them,” said Sobhy. “I knew I had to be on it from start to finish and stay focused.

“She loves to hit the ball hard and so do I, so it could have been a hardest hitter competition out there. But I made sure that I mixed up the pace to take her out of her element and I’m really happy to get off in three games.” 

Guggenheim Partners & EquiTrust Windy City Open 2016, University Club of Chicago, Chicago, USA

Results – Men’s Second Round (Bottom Half): 
[3] Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-1: 13-15, 11-1, 11-7, 11-1 (50m)
[8] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-1: 11-7, 11-5, 3-11, 11-9 (70m)
[6] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [Q] Diego Elias (PER) 3-1: 8-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7 (48m)
[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-2: 10-12, 9-11, 11-3, 13-11, 14-12 (109m)

Men’s Quarter-finals:
[1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v [5] Simon Rösner (GER)
Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v [4] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
[3] Omar Mosaad (EGY) v [8] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
[6] Tarek Momen (EGY) v [2] Nick Matthew (ENG)

Women’s  Second Round (Bottom Half):
[4] Camille Serme (FRA) bt Joey Chan (HKG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-2 (28m)
[7] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [10] Joelle King (NZL) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-5 (25m)
[8] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [13] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-9, 11-4 (27m)
[2] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt [9] Annie Au (HKG) 3-1: 15-13, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7 (43m)

Women’s Quarter-finals:
[1] Laura Massaro (ENG) v [6] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY)
[5] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v [3] Nicol David (MAS)
[4] Camille Serme (FRA) v [7] Amanda Sobhy (USA)
[8] Nouran Gohar (EGY) v [2] Raneem El Welily (EGY)

Pictures by STEVE LINE ( 


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