It was plain sailing for the top seeds on day one of the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family and EquiTrust Life Insurance Company as women’s top seed Nour El Sherbini and men’s number two seed Ali Farag breezed through to round two.
Egypt’s World No.3 Farag came through an entertaining clash with Switzerland’s World No.24 Nicolas Mueller to secure his round two berth at this year’s event – which offers a record high prize fund of $250,00 in both the men’s and women’s draws.
Farag and Mueller constantly exchanged points in a high-octane battle much to the delight of the crowd inside the University Club of Chicago’s Cathedral Hall, with the Egyptian eventually claiming a 18-16, 11-4, 11-13, 11-5 victory.
“I think the first game was crucial,” said Farag following his win.
“It gave me a confidence boost going into the second and I was able to run away with the points and it gave me an advantageous 2-0 lead.
“He came back very strong in the third but thankfully I had Nour [El Tayeb] and Marwan [ElShorbagy] in my corner and I could see he was getting a little tired. In the end I was more lucky that I didn’t have to play two qualifying matches before today.”
ElShorbagy ensured he will feature in the next round in Chicago after he defeated Hong Kong’s Leo Au inside the hour mark. The Egyptian pair will be joined by the likes of England’s three-time World Champion Nick Matthew and Tournament of Champions winner Simon Rösner in round two.
Meanwhile in the women’s event, World No.1 El Sherbini made light work of India’s Dipika Pallikal Karthik, dispatching the World No.20 in just 20 minutes as she looks to capture her first ever Windy City title after finishing runner-up on the last two occasions to compatriot Raneem El Welily.
“I’ve reached the final a couple of times but never won it,” said El Sherbini who will now face United States No.1 Olivia Blatchford in round two.
“Maybe it’s because I always face the same opponent in Raneem [El Welily] but hopefully this time we can reach the final again.
“I love coming to Chicago and playing at this venue. It was a very tricky first round and against Dipika it is always tough so I’m just looking forward to this event and I hope this time it is going to be a good tournament for me.”
France’s Camille Serme and Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb are among the names to join El Sherbini in the next round after they defeated Canadian qualifier Danielle Letourneau and Egypt’s Yathreb Adel – who was forced to retire from her match due to injury – respectively in round one.
Results – Men’s First Round: 2018 Windy City Open Presented by the Walter Family and EquiTrust Life Insurance Company
James Willstrop (ENG) bt [WC] Chris Hanson (USA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-3, 11-5 (29m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Leo Au (HKG) 3-1: 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6 (55m)
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [Q] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-3, 11-7 (39m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 (40m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-5 (35m)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-1: 11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8 (77m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt [Q] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-1: 18-16, 11-4, 11-13, 11-5 (51m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt [Q] Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-0: 14-12, 11-3, 12-10 (54m)
Draw – Men’s First Round (To be played February 23)
Diego Elias (PER) v Cesar Salazar (MEX)
Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [Q] Tsz Fung Yip (HKG)
Paul Coll (NZL) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v [Q] Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Borja Golan (ESP)
[Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v [Q] Max Lee (HKG)
Declan James (ENG) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Results – Women’s First Round: 2018 Windy City Open Presented by the Walter Family and EquiTrust Life Insurance Company
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt [Q] Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-0: 11-1, 11-2, 11-3 (23m)
Mariam Metwally (EGY) bt  Joshna Chinappa (IND) 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-4 (26m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [Q] Yathreb Adel (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 2-0 retired (10m)
 Annie Au (HKG) bt [Q] Nadine Shahin (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-4, 11-8 (25m)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt [Q] Nada Abbas (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 (27m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [WC] Sabrina Sobhy (USA) 3-1: 12-10, 8-11, 11-7, 11-4 (33m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-1 (20m)
 Olivia Blatchford (USA) bt [Q] Samantha Cornett (CAN) 3-0: 13-11, 11-2, 11-8 (32m)
Draw – Women’s First Round (To be played February 23)
[Q] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v  Joelle King (NZL)
 Nicol David (MAS) v Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
Joey Chan (HKG) v  Alison Waters (ENG)
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) v [Q] Coline Aumard (FRA)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v Donna Urquhart (AUS)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v Victoria Lust (ENG)
Salma Hany (EGY) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
[Q] Tinne Gilis (BEL) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)