Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-1: 9-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-6 (35m)
Egyptian Raneem El Welily retained the 2016 Windy City Open courtesy of a highly impressive 3-1 win over in-form compatriot Nour El Sherbini at the University Club of Chicago today in a victory that could propel the enigmatic and supremely talented shot-maker back to the form that saw her grasp the World No.1 slot last September.
El Sherbini came into the match following back-to-back 3-0 wins over Nicol David and Laura Massaro which reinforced her credentials as a genuine player amongst the ‘top 4’ but El Welily played with focus, control and determination to come from one-game down and secure the title 3-1 after 35 minutes.
The 27-year-old utilised her backhand crosscourt kill with devastating effect from the off, holding El Sherbini with skill and precision to play winner after winner, as she notched up 29 in total, and was unlucky not to take the opening game. She was 9-7 ahead before she served out and hit two tins in what was her only real lapse of concentration.
From the start of the second onward she began to intelligently vary her height and width to restrict El Sherbini’s attacking options, forcing the 20-year-old in making unforced errors, as she pressed on to take the next there games in succession to seal what was an emotional win and her first PSA World Tour title since September 2015.
After squandering her first game ball at 10-5 in the second game El Welily, who can often suffer from huge lapses of concentration, could be seen berating herself for a lapse in focus. She took the next point to tire the match at 1-1 and reinforce her determination to play disinclined squash.
Shot Of The Match
With two mercurial shot-makers on show there were outrageous winners aplenty covering all four corners making it almost impossible to select one shot. If one shot summed up the encounter it was Raneem El Welily’s crosscourt backhand kill which was utilised with devastating effect throughout the match to procure winner after winner.
Raneem El Welily: “I’m lost for words right now,” said an emotional El Welily after the match.
“I’m very, very happy to have won today. It’s the first title in a long time.
“Nour is very talented and very strong. She’s the perfect shot maker and I had to make sure I mixed my rhythm to keep the ball away from her. She’s had a great year and I’m very proud of her.
“I never thought I’d be No.1 after winning here last year so I’m just going to take it one step at a time. It’s all about baby steps and taking it one match an done point at a time.
“I need to work hard to make sure I have that same attitude and huger on court for the rest of the season. There’s still a few tournaments to play – I’m really grateful that I won today and hopefully I can keep it up.”
Nour El Sherbini: “She was just too good today, she’s the one that played perfect squash!
“She deserves to win, she has been playing so well all week from the first match. It’s nice to see her back at her best form.”