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England's Nick Matthew

Windy City Open: Day 3 - As It Happens

Round two of the 2018 Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family & EquiTrust Life Insurance Company gets under way today, as the competition begins to heat up for this year's event.

Today sees a whole host of big names in action including Tournament of Champions winner Simon Rösner, England's three-time World Champion Nick Matthew and U.S. Open winner and number two seed Ali Farag all competing in today's men's draw.

Meanwhile on the women's draw, top seed and World No.1 Nour El Sherbini takes on United States home hope Olivia Blatchford and Egypt's World No.3 Nour El Tayeb and recent British Nationals winner Tesni Evans face off against each other.

You can follow the action as it unfolds here and hear reaction from the players.

Here's today's order of play
12:00 [8] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v [11] Annie Au (HKG)
13:00 [7] Simon Rösner (GER) v Daryl Selby (ENG)
14:00 Mariam Metwally (EGY) v [3] Camille Serme (FRA)
15:00 James Willstrop (ENG) v [4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
17:00 [13] Tesni Evans (WAL) v [7] Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
18:00 Cameron Pilley (AUS) v [5] Nick Matthew (ENG)
19:00 [1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v [14] Olivia Blatchford (USA)
20:00 [2] Ali Farag (EGY) v Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)

Perry Downs Au to Reach Quarter-finals

England’s World No.8 Sarah-Jane Perry downed Hong Kong’s World No.11 Annie Au in straight-games to reach the quarter-finals for the first time at the Windy City Open.

The Englishwoman was in clinical form to dispatch Au – who had beaten Egyptian qualifier Nadine Shahin in round one – as she played with composure to reach the next round.

Au started the better of the two players, racing into a 5-2 lead in the first, before Perry made a steady comeback and rattled off seven successive points to take the lead and eventually take the first game by an 11-8 scoreline.

Perry – who overcame tournament wildcard Sabrina Sobhy in the last round – continued to take control at the front of the court and managed to take the second by the same scoreline and in the exact time as the first as she doubled her advantage and executed her game plan to perfection, before closing out the match, 11-6, in the third to take the win.

“I always have a game plan,” said the 27-year-old Englishwoman.

“A lot of the time it’s about how I want to execute my squash, but Annie has a different style to a lot of the other players but it’s very effective and we haven’t played much and that was two years ago, so you can’t really draw too much from that.

“She is just so deadly in the middle and at the front of the court.

“I played some nice stuff and Annie played some really nice stuff, so I was just pleased to get off in three because my consistency has not been where I have wanted it to be so far this season.”

[8] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [11] Annie Au (HKG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-8, 11-6 (36m)

Rösner Through to Quarter-Finals

Germany’s World No.6 Simon Rösner came through an entertaining battle with England’s Daryl Selby by a 3-1 scoreline to book his place in the quarter-finals.

It was the third successive meeting for the two players, with Rösner claiming both of the previous – at the Tournament of Champions and Swedish Open – after not having beaten Selby in the eight encounters prior to that.

Rösner – who defeated India’s Saurav Ghosal in the last round – started strongly to take the first game before Selby fought back with his usual shot-making flair in the second to level the scores.

In the third, Rösner began to find his corners in a lethal manner as he turned up the pressure on his English opponent to take an all-important 2-1 lead, before sealing his place in the quarter-finals with a comfortable victory in the fourth after Selby appeared to be struggling with an injury at the end.

“I think the general overall game has improved,” said the 30-year-old German.

“I feel comfortable with my shots and going to the back and front corners. I’m really pleased with my squash for the last couple of weeks and hopefully I can continue with that kind of form going into the next round, it certainly isn’t getting easier.

“Unlucky for Daryl because I think he had some issues towards the end there but it’s always difficult to play someone when you’re not sure if they’re 100% but I just tried to stay focused throughout.”

[7] Simon Rösner (GER) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-1: 11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 11-3 (55m)

Serme on Song to Defeat Metwally

France’s World No.5 Camille Serme put in a stellar performance under the chandeliers of the University Club of Chicago’s Cathedral Hall as she dispatched Egyptian 21-year-old Mariam Metwally in round two.

France’s Serme came firing out of the blocks as she raced into a 7-0 lead against the Egyptian – who pulled off an upset in round one to dump India’s World No.17 Joshna Chinappa out of the tournament – as she took the first game for the loss of just two points.

The Frenchwoman has looked strong so far in Chicago – seeing off Canadian qualifier Danielle Letourneau in straight-games for the loss of just six points in the entire match – and Serme showed no signs of taking her foot off the gas as she powered past Metwally – who is playing at a career-high World Ranking – in straight-games by an 11-2, 11-7, 11-8 scoreline.

“I don’t remember to have played her before,” said the 28-year-old from Creteil.

“But I knew how tricky she was going to be, she can play a lot of shots from anywhere on the court, so I just wanted to be as tight as I could and every time she played a good shot, trying to cover it in the front.

“I’m happy with my performance today because Mariam is a tricky player. I’m working on things with my mental coach and trying to get in my opponent’s head and make them think that they can’t do certain things anymore and break them down.”

[3] Camille Serme (FRA) bt Mariam Metwally (EGY) 3-0: 11-2, 11-7, 11-8 (29m)

ElShorbagy Beats Willstrop in High Quality Battle

2017 Windy City Open runner-up Marwan ElShorbagy showcased all of his best attributes on court to come through in four in a high-quality battle against England’s former World No.1 James Willstrop.

The two have only played each other twice on the PSA World Tour before, with Willstrop claiming both of those wins and the last encounter taking place four years ago.

However, it turned out to be ElShorbagy’s day as the Egyptian played with clean precision to take his place in the quarter-finals.

‘The Marksman’ played with his famous accuracy to take the first game before ElShorbagy fought back to display the kind of squash that has seen him enjoy a strong season so far, which included reaching the PSA World Championship final in December.

The Egyptian World No.4 played some of his best squash and pushed Willstrop deep into the back of the court to leave the World No.16 struggling to find an answer to respond with as ElShorbagy closed out a highly impressive 9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 victory.

“My and my coach sat down and made a plan,” said ElShorbagy.

“He gave me a lot of confidence with my backhand and said ‘you have a good backhand drive so just play it’ and I think that worked today.

“Overall, I thought I played really well against him, he is a really good player and he always inspired me when I was younger. I always watched the way he played and maybe that’s why my backhand was good today because I was learning from him.

“He’s one of the best players to ever play the sport and just to be on court with him means a lot to me. We haven’t played much, so I was really looking forward to playing him today.

“I was sticking to my plan and it wasn’t easy and it’s a good thing that I have now one day to recover.”

[4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-1: 9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 (50m)

El Tayeb Produces Epic Comeback to Beat Evans

Egypt’s World No.3 Nour El Tayeb mounted a huge comeback from four match balls down in the fourth to beat Welsh World No.12 Tesni Evans and reach the quarter-finals of the Windy City Open.

El Tayeb was staring down the barrel of defeat in the fourth game as Evans played with accuracy to punish the Egyptian and held four match balls before El Tayeb saved them all to take the pivotal fourth game by a 14-12 margin.

The 24-year-old Egyptian initially took the lead before Evans responded and looked on top, reading El Tayeb well all over the court, to take the next two games.

The recent British Nationals winner looked as though she was about to take the match in the fourth, however, a tenacious El Tayeb had other ideas and showed nerves of steel to level the scores, 2-2.

In the fifth, El Tayeb managed to pull away and not let her lead slip as she played with relentless pressure to secure a quarter-final berth.

“My coach and Ali [Farag] have always told me that I have to dig in no matter the score,” said El Tayeb.

“No matter the conditions and no matter how well she was playing. She played unbelievably well and was reading my all over the court. I was struggling, every time I played a shot she was there, so I just had to dig in and I’m very lucky to be through to the next round.

“The fifth game was very hard mentally but I’m sure it was harder for her because she had the match balls. I think I tried to relax a bit in the fifth, so I could play my squash and I think I did that.”

[7] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [13] Tesni Evans (WAL) 3-2: 11-7, 7-11, 6-11, 14-12, 11-4 (65m)

Pilley Produces Upset to Knock Out Matthew

Australia’s World No.20 Cameron Pilley produced the upset of the day as he knocked out three-time World Champion Nick Matthew in his last Windy City Open before he retires at the end of the season.

Pilley produced some outrageous squash at times against Matthew – to secure his first win over the Englishman since the 2015 Hong Kong Open – as he took a 11-8, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7 victory in 67 minutes to book his place in the quarter-finals.

The duo have faced each other 14 times on the PSA World Tour previously, dating back to 2007, with Matthew taking 11 victories from the Australian, nevertheless, Pilley made sure to change that form as he put Matthew to the sword in Chicago.

The Australian took the first game before a resilient Matthew battled back in the second, however, from then on Pilley played with confidence to regain control of the match to close out the win.

“I’m very happy to get the win,” said the 35-year-old following his win.

“We have played so many times in our career and I think that’s my fourth win over him. Given what Nick’s achieved over his whole career, he is one of the best ever players, and even though he is coming to the end of his career I’m quite happy to notch up a win here in Chicago – apart from the World Champs it is the richest tournament on the calendar.

“Because I haven’t had a lot of success against him you know that your game plan might be wrong, even though you have had a couple of successes, so you sort of hope that the game plan you want to implement is the right one because he has nullified that so many times before that you second guess how you want to play.

“I was aware of his volley around the middle of the court today and I didn’t want to give him as many opportunities at shoulder-height volleys as I have done in the past and I think I did that pretty well and you know if he doesn’t dominate that area then you’re in with a shot.

“In a way it’s a privilege to beat him in his last season because he’s so up for every tournament because he knows every city he visits is his last tournament.”

Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [5] Nick Matthew (ENG) 3-1: 11-8, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7 (67m)

Blatchford No Match For Sherbini

World No.1 Nour El Sherbini breezed into the last eight of the Windy City Open with a straight forward 3-0 win over Olivia Blatchford.

The American number one has progressed leaps and bounds since securing a breakthrough win here twelve months ago – regularly troubling players in the top eight – but came up short against an in-form El Sherbini who is looking to collect a third straight title following wins at the PSA Saudi Masters and Tournament of Champions.

Blatchford at times enjoyed success through clever deception and hold, stopping El Sherbini and opening up the court, but the tournament top seed never looked pushed beyond second gear as she prevailed 11-4, 11-6, 11-5.

“She's been improving a lot through this season and has beaten a lot of top players,” said El Sherbini.

“But today I was just trying not to give up on any point and just keep pushing myself. I'm happy with the way I played and I'm looking forward to the next round.

“I'm always trying to improve my game and my fitness. I put a lot of work in over the summer on my fitness especially and I feel like it's showing in my play now.”

[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [14] Olivia Blatchford (USA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-5 (27m)

Farag Downs Cuskelly In Three

Number two seed Ali Farag came through in three games against Australian Ryan Cuskelly but was made to work hard for the victory in a thrilling all court battle.

Cuskelly thwarted World Champion and soon to be World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy in an epic battle at the ToC last month, and he looked to pick up where he left off in the early going as he attacked at will against Farag, firing winners in from all over to prevent Farag from finding any rhythm on court.

But the Swedish Open champion showed his class as he dealt with Cuskelly’s attacks, utilising the lob to reset play, and extend the play and sap energy from the Australian’s legs.

After taking the first Farag continued to go from strength-to-strength, eventually coming out an 11-6, 11-8, 11-5 winner.

“I had the right game plan today and had to work on winning the battle in the back corners and I think I hit those corners today,” said Farag.

“It never got easier. But the more I dragged him back, the more the front court opened up. I was happy with how I played and with how I kept my discipline.

“It was hard to come back from Nour’s match today – I got quite nervous watching her match – so I’m happy to come through.”

[2] Ali Farag (EGY) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-5 (41m)

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