Egyptian two-time World Champion Ramy Ashour was back to his sublime best at the 2014 METROsquash Windy City Open today, coming through an enthralling quarter-final encounter against England’s James Willstrop 3-1.
Ashour was forced to display his entire arsenal of world-class ability to get past the World No.5 before eventually prevailing 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 in front of an enthralled crowd at the University Club of Chicago.
“Playing James is never easy,” said Ashour. “When you play such an accurate and sharp player you have to be 100 per cent at your best and today James was playing some immaculate squash.
“He really came out firing and took the first game and I had to really dig in. I felt like I started to find my rhythm in the second game and I’m very proud that I was able to dig in and do what it took to win the match.”
The Cairo-based player, who has been plagued by injury in recent months, will now face WIllstrop’s long-time domestic rival and current World No.1 Nick Matthew in the semi-finals in a repeat of the recent Swedish Open final.
“Playing Nick in the semi-final will be very tough,” he said.
“He’s an incredibly tough player and you have to push yourself to beat him but I believe I have what it takes to do that. I have a lot of respect for his professionalism and he motivates me a lot in ways he doesn’t see and it’s always great to play him so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Sunday’s second semi-final will see World No.4 Mohamed Elshorbagy take on French World No.2 Gregory Gaultier after they came through their respective quarter-finals against India’s Saurav Ghosal and Germany’s Simon Rosner.
Gaultier was given a stern test by the German national champion, coming from one game down to secure his victory and set up a repeat of January’s Tournament of Champions semi-final when the Frenchman won an emotional encounter that saw him move to No.1 in the World Rankings, a position he has since vacated.
“In the first game Simon was playing really well and at a really fast pace and I struggled a little to find my length and he took advantage of that,” said Gaultier.
“It was a really tough match but I’m glad I have got through as I really had to up my play and take the ball earlier and try to move him around the court more.
“I’m happy with how I played and I’m feeling good at the moment. Mohamed is in great form and I’m going to have to be at my best to beat him so it should be a good match.”
2014 Windy City Open: Quarter-final Results:
2014 Windy City Open: Semi-final Draw:
The 2014 METROsquash Windy City Open presented by Guggenheim and EquiTrust Life Insurance takes place at the University Club of Chicago from February 26 to March 3.
Tickets cost from $25 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.windycityopen.com