Kiwi Coll comes close to downing Gawad in Chicago battle
By NATHAN CLARKE in Chicago
The strength and depth of talent on the PSA World Tour was on display during the opening day of action at the 2016 Windy City Open presented by Guggenheim Partners and Equitrust Life Insurance Company today (March 25) as a series of physically-punishing marathon encounters dominated proceedings at the University Club of Chicago.
Fresh from the biggest victory of his career at the PSA M70 UCS Swedish Open earlier this month, Egyptian World No.9 Karim Abdel Gawad came within a whisker of exiting at the first hurdle in a high-quality encounter with World No.40 Paul Coll of New Zealand. This battle set the scene for what was to follow as six of eight men’s matches went beyond the 60-minute mark.
Coll, who booked his place in the main draw after coming through two rounds of qualification, played fearless and composed squash to unsettle Gawad, twice extending game-leads before he finally succumbed to the Egyptian in the closing stages of a nail-biting five-game 79 minute encounter.
“Today was not easy at all,” said Gawad. “He came through qualification but his level today shows that he is much better than a qualifying player.
“He was the better player today and he had me under pressure from the very start and throughout the match. I’m very lucky and happy that I managed to get the win and move through to the next round.”
Gawad was joined in the second round by Colombian World No.6 Miguel Angel Rodriguez, who displayed glimpses of the form that took him to a high of No.4 in 2015 in a gruelling four-game 76 minute victory over England’s Chris Simpson.
“That was a very tough match,” said Rodriguez. “I have played a lot of times with Chris and I know how tough he is so I think I played well in first game. But from then on it just got tougher and tougher so I’m very happy to get through.
“You have to be very consistent to compete in big events now because all top 20 players are good and no match can be taken for granted. You have to play hard in every match and give it 100 per cent.”
Mohamed Abouelghar, Max Lee, Marwan ElShorbagy and Tom Richards joined Gawad and Rodriguez in securing hard fought opening round victories.
World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy secured his passage to the second round with a 3-0 win over Alan Clyne, although the scorelines in the second and third games (11-9 and 12-10) demonstrate how close the Scotsman came to extending the match.
In the women’s draw the top seeds enjoyed a similarly straightforward start with World No.1 Laura Massaro, World No.2 Nicol David and World No.4 Nour El Sherbini all coming through their first round matches courtesy of impressive 3-0 wins.
For Massaro, competing as the number one seed in a PSA World Series tournament for the first time, a return to form comes as a timely opportunity of her to re-assert her credentials as the sport’s top player after she suffered a disappointing quarter-finals exit during January’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions.
“Coming into a World Series tournament as the top seed is a very nice feeling and this is the first time that I’ve ever experienced that so I’m excited to hopefully do well here,” said Massaro.
“I won this event two years ago so I’ll be doing everything I can this week to try and replicas that.
“I feel like my form is pretty good coming into this evert. I won the British Nationals a few weeks ago and I’m happy with how I played today but I need to make sure I keep on improving and pushing my level up if I want to go all the way and win the title.”
Guggenheim Partners & EquiTrust Windy City Open 2016, University Club of Chicago, USA
Results – PSA M $150, First Round (Top Half):
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-0: 11-5, 11-9, 12-10 (34m)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt [Q] Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-2: 11-9, 11-8, 6-11, 10-12, 11-6 (62m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-2: 9-11, 3-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-3 (77m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-4, 11-9 (39m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v [Q] Paul Coll (NZL) 3-2: 10-12, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7 (79m)
Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [Q] Leo Au (HKG) 3-2: 11-7, 11-13, 11-4, 11-13, 11-9 (74m)
Tom Richards (ENG) bt [Q] Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-1: 11-5, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7 (60m)
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-1: 11-4, 6-11, 11-8, 12-10 (76m
Draw – First Round (Bottom Half)
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) v James Willstrop (ENG)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v [Q] Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
Ali Farag (EGY) v  Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Fares Dessouki (EGY) v [Q] Diego Elias (PER)
Borja Golan (ESP) v Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
[WC] Chris Hanson (USA) v  Nick Matthew (ENG)
Results – PSA W $150, First Round (Top Half):
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt Line Hansen (DEN) 3-0: 11-2, 11-7, 11-5 (30m)
 Victoria Lust (ENG) bt Heba El Torky (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 (27m)
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) bt [Q] Christine Nunn (AUS) 3-1: 11-6, 8-11, 11-7, 11-3 (49m)
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt [WC] Olivia Blatchford (USA) 3-0: 12-10, 11-5, 11-9 (31m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [Q] Samantha Teran (MEX) 3-0: 12-10, 11-7, 11-5 (32m)
 Delia Arnold (MAS) bt Tesni Evans (WAL) 3-1: 9-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 (54m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [Q] Deon Saffery (WAL) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 13-11 (25m)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt [Q] Fiona Moverley (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-1, 11-6 (22m)
Draw – First Round (Bottom Half)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v [Q] Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
Joey Chan (HKG) v  Low Wee Wern (MAS)
 Joelle King (NZL) v Donna Urquhart (AUS)
Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v [Q] Mariam Metwally (EGY)
Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) v  Jenny Duncalf (ENG)
 Annie Au (HKG) v [Q] Nele Gilis (BEL)
[Q] Coline Aumard (FRA) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com)