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Raneem El Welily in action at the Windy City Open

Season Review: February

The PSA Dubai World Series Finals in June brought an end to one of the most memorable seasons on the PSA World Tour.

Over the past few weeks we have been looking back at the major moments that have lit up the PSA World Tour during the 2016/17 season, including the outstanding performers, breakthrough stars, biggest shocks, comebacks, rallies of the season and the players to watch next season.

We’re now looking back at the events of February, where the Windy City Open dominated the month’s proceedings

At the start of February, France’s Gregory Gaultier lifted the Swedish Open title for the third time in his career to spark his impressive run of titles in 2017, after he overturned a one-game deficit to defeat World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad in the final in Linköping – bringing an end to the Egyptian’s 19-match unbeaten run.

Defending champion Gawad looked to be on course to lift a fourth successive PSA World Tour title to add to his World Championship, Qatar Classic and Tournament of Champions titles – the latter of which saw him beat the Frenchman in the final – after he took the lead.

However, a stunning comeback from Gaultier saw him storm back into contention, with a masterful display seeing him ease to victories in games two and three – where he did not drop a single point in the latter – before he came out on top in the final game to lift his 35th career PSA World Tour title courtesy of a 7-11, 11-3, 11-0, 11-8 victory.

France continued to enjoy a successful month as Camille Serme maintained her unbeaten start to 2017 in February as she mounted a superb comeback from two games down to retain her Cleveland Classic title at the expense of England’s Alison Waters.

Waters looked to have got the better of the Frenchwoman as she went two games ahead but Serme responded in the third and ground out the victory in the remaining games to add to her U.S. Open and Tournament of Champions titles to cement her status as the form player on the Women’s Tour.

Next up on the calendar was the Windy City Open, which saw many thrilling contests and surprise results inside the University Club of Chicago.

In round two, an inspired Simon Rösner put together one of the best performances of his career to date to secure a win over three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour and move into the last eight.

There was plenty of emotion shown in the quarter finals as Marwan and Mohamed ElShorbagy faced each other, with the former recording his first ever PSA World Tour win over elder brother and then-World No.1 Mohamed to book a place in the semi-finals and put an end to Mohamed’s title defence.

Coming into the match, Marwan had never previously taken more than one game from his brother and looked on the way to another defeat after dropping the opener from a solitary point as Mohamed began the contest in form.

However, Marwan was not to be beaten easily and came back into the contest in the second, mixing up the pace and taking Mohamed out of his rhythm. Marwan then took a 2-1 lead, before falling to a 5-11 defeat in the fourth, however the younger brother stood firm in the final game to see out the win – which was greeted with an outpouring of emotion and a wide, beaming smile from his elder brother.

Marwan moved into the final after beating compatriot Ali Farag in the semi-finals, however he fell at the final hurdle as then-World No.3 Gaultier continued his fine start to 2017 to pick up his 36th PSA World Tour title.

Gaultier started slowly as the opener went the way of a composed looking ElShorbagy, but the Frenchman’s big game experience came to the fore as he pushed on to secure the title with a 5-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-4 victory.

In the women’s final, it was Raneem El Welily who made it three in a row, adding to her 2015 and 2016 Windy City Open titles as she beat fellow Egyptian Nour El Sherbini.

In a repeat of the 2016 final, El Welily put in her best performance to halt World No.1 El Sherbini 10-12, 11-7, 11-7, 11-7. The 28-year-old played superb squash from the off and, despite losing a close first game, looked comfortable as she returned to the form that took her to World No.1 in 2015.

February also saw Hong Kong’s Tsz Fung Yip lift his first ever PSA World Tour title outside of Asia as he dispatched Qatar’s Abdullah Mohd Al Tamimi in the final of the Holtrand Open.

Yip’s previous three PSA World Tour titles came on the 2015 Malaysian Tour and he added to his collection with an 8-11, 11-8, 8-11, 12-10 victory to seal his maiden PSA M25 title.

Full list of winners
Bitar Cosmetics Play Squash Men’s Open 2017 – Adam Murrills (ENG)
Three Rivers Capital Pittsburgh Open 2017 – Zahed Mohamed (EGY)
Winnipeg Winter Club Women’s Open 2017 – Samantha Cornett (CAN)
UCS Swedish Open 2017 – Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Holtrand Open 2017 – Tsz Fung Yip (HKG)
Life Time Atlanta Open 2017 – Shawn Delierre (CAN)
Cronimet Open 2017 – Mohammad Alsarraj (JOR)
Open D’Italia 2017 – Youssef Ibrahim (EGY)
The Cleveland Classic 2017 – Camille Serme (FRA)
Guilfoyle Financial PSA Squash Classic 2017 – Leandro Romiglio (ARG)
Guggenheim Partners & EquiTrust Windy City Open (Men’s title) – Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Guggenheim Partners & EquiTrust Windy City Open (Women’s title) – Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Mount Royal University Open 2017 – Eric Galvez (MEX)
Oregon Open 2017 – Olli Tuominen (FIN)
Texas Open 2017 – Annie Au (HKG)

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