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Gregory Gaultier (left) Marwan ElShorbagy (right)

Throwback Thursday: Story of the Men’s 2017 Windy City Open

The University Club of Chicago will host the fifth stage on this season’s Men’s PSA World Series Standings when the 2018 Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family & EquiTrust Life Insurance Company begins on Thursday February 22.

This year’s instalment will also see the event become the most lucrative PSA World Series tournament ever when $500k of prize money will be split equally across both the men’s and women’s draws.

To help get you in the mood for the upcoming action in Chicago, why not re-live last year’s tournament.

Round One
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt [Q] Campbell Grayson (NZL) 3-1: 11-4, 7-11, 11-8, 11-4 (57m)
[5] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [Q] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 13-11, 11-9 (41m)
Stephen Coppinger (RSA) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-2: 9-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7 (119m)
Diego Elias (PER) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 (66m)
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Olli Tuominen (FIN) 3-0: 11-2, 11-8, 11-3 (23m)
Simon Rösner (GER) bt [WC] Chris Hanson (USA) 3-1: 11-13, 11-4, 11-4, 11-8 (54m)
[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Paul Coll (NZL) 3-2: 14-12, 11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 11-7 (94m)
[6] Ali Farag (EGY) bt Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 3-2: 6-11, 11-4, 11-7, 4-11, 11-7 (65m)
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [Q] Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-2: 11-7, 11-6, 4-11, 2-11, 11-8 (82m)
Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt [Q] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-7 (28m)
Borja Golan (ESP) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-1: 11-8, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9 (71m)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-2: 11-6, 10-12, 5-11, 11-7, 11-8 (61m)
[Q] Leo Au (HKG) bt [7] Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-2: 5-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-9, 11-7 (80m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Joe Lee (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-7, 11-3 (36m)
James Willstrop (ENG) bt [8] Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-1 (34m)
[2] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-1: 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-5 (45m)

Defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy got his 2017 Windy City Open campaign off to a winning start as he came through an epic 94-minute battle with New Zealand’s Paul Coll.

The duo engaged in rally after rally of attritional, high quality squash from the off but it was the then-World No.1, after saving two game balls in the opener, who looked to be on his way to a routine win after going 2-0 up.

However, Coll had other ideas and showed skill and determination to fight back in style to force a deciding fifth game by taking the third and fourth. The Kiwi then raced into a 3-0 lead before ElShorbagy mounted one more charge to keep his title defence alive.

ElShorbagy’s compatriot Ramy Ashour was also on the winning side in round one of last year’s instalment as he made his first competitive appearance since limping off court during the 2016 World Championship final.

The Egyptian maverick played with free-flowing squash as he hit audacious winners for fun to see off Finland’s Olli Tuominen in straight-games in just 23 minutes.

Round Two
[6] Ali Farag (EGY) bt Diego Elias (PER) 3-2: 6-11, 11-9, 5-11, 11-6, 11-6 (69m)
[5] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 3-2: 11-4, 9-11, 12-10, 4-11, 11-6 (63m)
Simon Rösner (GER) bt [4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 11-8, 6-11, 11-3 (47m)
[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-8 (42m)
James Willstrop (ENG) bt Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 3-1: 11-4, 11-8, 8-11, 13-11 (70m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-0: 11-2, 11-0, 11-1 (16m)
Borja Golan (ESP) bt [Q] Leo Au (HKG) 3-1: 1-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-7 (56m)
[2] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Fares Dessouky (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 10-12, 11-8, 11-9 (59m)

Germany’s Simon Rösner put together one of his best performances to secure a huge win over three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour in last year’s second round.

Rösner was trailing 0-6 in their head-to-head record before he put together a formidable performance to see off former World No.1 Ashour and secure a quarter-final berth.

Meanwhile, England’s James Willstrop came out victorious in a tough and testing match with Egypt’s Mohamed Abouelghar to set up a quarter-final meeting with 2015 Gregory Gaultier who overcame England’s Daryl Selby in straight games.

[6] Ali Farag (EGY) bt Simon Rösner (GER) 3-1: 8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-5 (52m)
[5] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 1-11, 11-8, 13-11, 5-11, 11-8 (69m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 12-10, 11-5 (41m)
Borja Golan (ESP) bt [2] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-1: 8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-9 (73m)

Then-World No.1 and defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy saw his hopes of winning a third consecutive Windy City Open title dashed by the hands of his younger brother, Marwan, in this epic quarter-final clash.

On seven previous attempts 23-year-old Marwan had failed to take more than a solitary game from his older brother, but under the chandeliers of the University Club of Chicago, he turned history on its head as he fought through the mental barrier to come through a compelling five-game battle 1-11, 11-8, 13-11, 5-11, 11-8.

Another surprise result saw Spain’s Borja Golan knock out Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad, who went to Chicago bidding to win a third straight PSA World Series title but found himself up against an inspired Golan – who secured a berth to a major semi-final for the first time since the 2014 Hong Kong Open.

[5] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [6] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9 (61m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-0: 11-6, 15-13, 11-8 (69m)

Marwan ElShorbagy continued his impressive run of form at last year’s Windy City Open as he saw off compatriot Ali Farag by an 11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9 scoreline.

The win meant that the younger ElShorbagy brother would feature in his first ever PSA World Series tournament final, where he would take on France’s Gaultier.

Meanwhile, The ‘French General’ saw off Spain’s Golan – who had enjoyed an impressive tournament to date – in straight-games to reach the final.

[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [5] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-1: 5-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-4 (51m)
France’s Gaultier came from one game down after a nervous start in the final of last year’s Windy City Open to defeat Marwan ElShorbagy by a 5-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-4 scoreline and capture his 36th title of his PSA World Tour career.

“I am really happy – it’s amazing to win these kind of major titles so it will be nice to see my name on this beautiful trophy once again,” said Gaultier following his win last year.

“He caused me a lot of trouble in the first game. He has got a lot of confidence from this week winning some big matches, especially from beating his brother. He proved this week that he is a top player – he came through five tough matches to reach this stage which was a tougher week than me.

“I just had to find a solution and to put more pace into it and get in control because when I was playing at his rhythm he was just a better player than me.”

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