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Gregory Gaultier takes on James Willstrop in the Bellevue Classic semis

Bellevue Classic Semis Roundup: Gaultier and Farag Set Up Second Successive Final Clash

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World No.2 Gregory Gaultier and World No.8 Ali Farag will meet in the final of a PSA World Tour event for the second tournament in succession after they claimed respective wins over James Willstrop and Marwan ElShorbagy on semi-finals day at the inaugural Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash Classic.

Over $25,000 worth of prize money will be up for grabs in the final – a record amount for a squash tournament containing a 16-man draw – and Gaultier ensured that he will compete in a seventh successive Tour final after he defeated Willstrop by an 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 margin.

Gaultier, the 34-year-old from France, lost his World No.1 ranking to Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad earlier this month, but a win over Farag in tomorrow’s final will see him reclaim top spot in next month’s World Rankings.

“I’m happy with my performances throughout the tournament,” said Gaultier.

“It’s a big mental exercise for me to push through with almost no recovery between tournaments because we have such a short time to go home, we only have a couple of days before we go again.

“You get your head into competition mode again and it’s really tough, but that’s what I train for and I spend all my time making sacrifices to play at that level.”

Farag, meanwhile, made it back-to-back Tour finals for the third time in his career after he came through in four games against World No.5 ElShorbagy.

ElShorbagy came into the match off the back of a big win over three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour in the previous round and had beaten Farag in their last meeting in the semi-final of February’s Windy City Open, but Farag hit his lines well in a clinical display to take it 11-7, 11-4, 7-11, 11-5.

Gaultier and Farag met in the final of the Grasshopper Cup less than a fortnight ago, with Gaultier winning 3-0 to lift a sixth Tour title in a row.

Ali Farag (left) and Marwan ElShorbagy (right)

“Marwan had a great win yesterday against probably one of the best players in the history of squash,” said Farag.

“I’m very happy with the way I played, but I just have to give him credit for such a good tournament and such a good season. He’s such an unbelievable player.

“I’m very happy to reach a second final back-to-back, it’s one thing to be able to beat the top players, but to do it consistently is another and I’m very happy to be there. Hopefully I can go a step further this time.”

Coverage from the final of the Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash Classic begins at 14:00 local time (PDT) and will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe Only).

Results – Semi-Finals: 2017 Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash Classic
[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [4] James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 (42m)
[3] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [2] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 11-4, 7-11, 11-5 (38m)

Draw – Final: To Be Played May 20th
[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [3] Ali Farag (EGY)

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