Saturday, December 2, 2023

Willstrop short-circuits Shabana at Windy City

Rosner and Ghosal reach last eight on day of drama in Cathedral Hall

James Willstrop keeps it tight down the right-hand wall
James Willstrop keeps it tight down the right-hand wall

James Willstrop is one of the great thinkers in squash. Having lost to the formidable Amr Shabana in New York, he worked out a new strategy that produced a devastating reversal of fortunes in Chicago.

England’s world number five produced one of his most impressive displays in recent months to defeat four-time world champion  Shabana in straight games in the second round of the 2014 METROsquash Windy City Open .

Willstrop, now based in Harrogate, had lost to Shabana three times in a row. But in the University Club’s Cathedral Hall setting, Willstrop showed the skill and desire that saw him reach world number one status in 2012 as he recorded an 11-4, 11-8, 11-1 victory.

Willstrop knows he will need to get his thinking cap back on straight away. He now meets Egyptian superstar Ramy Ashour, the current world number four, in the quarter-finals. And the winner is set to meet England’s world number one Nick Matthew or world number seven Peter Barker for a place in the final.

A delighted Willstrop revealed: “I knew I would have to play very clever against Amr and put the ball into good areas to be in with a chance of winning.

“However accurately I played, I knew that he would be do just the same so I had to play well and I think I did that.

“It wasn’t flashy squash, and the scoreline maybe doesn’t truly reflect the match as I had to put in a lot of effort, but I hit the right places and remained mentally positive throughout which I was pleased with.”chrosgol

In a battle of European powerhouses, eight-time German national champion and world number 11 Simon Rosner (right) impressed with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over 11-time Spanish national champion and world number six Borja Golan.

That win was Rosner’s second victory over top 10 ranked players in consecutive PSA World Series events, after he beat world number eight Karim Darwish in the Tournament of Champions, and the Padderborn-based player was pleased with his performance.

“I think I played good, concentrated squash today with very few mistakes but I think it also wasn’t his day as he can play much better,” said Rosner.

“I’m pleased with how I played though and that’s more important than how my opponent plays and I’m very glad to be in another quarter-final, especially in the USA as I’ve enjoyed playing here recently.

“I’ve started to get more regular wins over higher ranked players such as Darwish and Borja and these are the wins you need to progress in the rankings but I’m just focusing on playing well and whatever happens in the rankings is secondary.”

Indian champion Saurav Ghosal enjoyed an 18-12 overture as he produced an outstanding performance to beat the higher-ranked Egyptian Tarek Momen.

Ghosal’s phenomenal combination of movement, anticipation, retrieving and shot selection was the key as he prevented Momen from backing up his victory over fellow Egyptian Karim Darwish with another major performance.  Ghosal now faces a massive physical confrontation with powerful Egyptian Mohamed Elshorbagy lying in wait in the quarter-finals.

World number three Elshorbagy battled past fellow Egyptian Omar Mosaad in straight games. French number two seed Gregory Gaultier removed another Egyptian rival as he overcame Karim Abdel Gawad. 

2014 Windy City Open: Second Round Results:

[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) 3-0 Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 11-7, 11-7, 11-9 (58m)
[8] Peter Barker (ENG) 3-1 Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 11-3, 3-11, 11-6, 11-3 (54m)
[5] James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0 Amr Shabana (EGY) 11-4, 11-8, 11-1 (37m)
[3] Ramy Ashour (EGY) 3-0 Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) 13-11, 11-7, 11-4 (36m)
[4] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) 3-0 Omar Mosaad (EGY) 11-4, 11-6, 11-3 (45m)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-1 Tarek Momen (EGY) 11-9, 3-11, 11-4, 11-7 (50m)
Simon Rosner (GER) 3-0 [7] Borja Golan (ESP) 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (45m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 3-0 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 11-1, 11-6, 11-7 (39m)

2014 Windy City Open: Quarter-Final Draw:

[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) v [8] Peter Barker (ENG)
[5] James Willstrop (ENG) v [3] Ramy Ashour (EGY)
[4] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
Simon Rosner (GER) v [2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA)

Picture by Marian Kraus ( 

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