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France's Gregory Gaultier Wins 2017 Grasshopper Cup

Frenchman Gregory Gautier picked up the 39th title of his career – and his fifth consecutive tournament win in 2017 – after defeating Egyptian Ali Farag in the final of the 2017 Grasshopper Cup in Zurich, recording his 23rd consecutive PSA Tour match win in the process.

The 34-year-old, who in April became squash's oldest ever World No.1, hasn't lost a competitive match since January, winning the Swedish Open, Windy City Open, British Open and El Gouna International in succession. And he made it five in a row after narrowly edging past World No.8 Farag courtesy of a 3-0 scoreline that didn't truly reflect the competitiveness of the 53 minute match.

Farag posed arguably the stiffest challenge Gaultier has faced during his recent run as he read the Frenchman's game well to counter Gaultier's attacks and cause him trouble in all four corners of the court.

Gaultier started with a thumping kill off the very first serve that sent an ominous message out to his opponent but Farag was equal to him. With Gautier controlling the T in the early exchanges Farag was content to stick with the Frenchman and work his way into proceedings and a few moments of brilliance from the racket saw him stay close. With the rallies lengthening towards the mid stages Farag was able to use his own court craft to counter Gaultier's controlling position and profit, but the strong start was enough to see Gaultier take the opening game by a narrow 11-9 margin.

The second began where the first finished, with Farag reading Gaultier's play in the front court and making life difficult for the General. Up against the toughest test he has faced during the past few events Gaultier stepped up, seizing control of the centre court and sending Farag into all four corners – sapping energy from the Egyptian in the process.

But Farag gamely answered with a series of sweetly struck winners to upset the rhythm and get back to 8-9, but he was again left frustrated as Gaultier doubled up 11-9.

Then Gaultier physically appeared to drop off, falling 4-1 down in the third as the intensity went out of his game. It was an opportunity Farag pounced on as he raced ahead, injecting pace to profit and attacking short to open up the court and go ahead 7-2. And he stayed ahead until 10-8, but wth two game balls in hand, he tinned two in succession to see the game into a tie break – which Gaultier manage to sneak 14-12 courtesy of another error from the Egyptian.

“I'm really happy to win the title and I felt like I played well today, but 3-0 doesn't reflect the battle because we played almost an hour,” said Gaultier.

“I knew he was playing well this week as well and that it would be tough. I had to tactically play simple and not open he court up for him and I was ready for it.

“I had to put in a big push in the third to come back from behind because my energy was dropping and he was getting better and better. I was very happy to finish it in three.

“I've had an amazing run since January, but there's no secret to the success. I've been working hard my whole life and have a team supporting me and working with me every day – and that work has been paying off. I had a bad run in 2016 with injuries and that has really motivated me this season as well.

“I've still got two more events to play this season so hopefully I can keep it going and keep my level up.”

A good run in his next event, the Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash Classic 2017, could also see Gaultier reclaim the World No.1 spot he lost to Karim Abdel Gawad at the start of this month.

Speaking after the match Farag said: “He was better than me in the first but at the end of that game I felt like I was getting into it and finding a way to play him. I was playing well but he came back very strong in the third. It was a flip of a coin at the end, had I won I that game I think it would have gone to five, but there are no regrets. I've had a great week here and I'm proud of what I've achieved.”

Result – Final
[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [5] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 14-12 (53m)

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