World No.3 Nour El Tayeb staged a huge comeback from 2-0 down to knock World No.1 Nour El Sherbini out of the 2018 Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family & EquiTrust Life Insurance Company in an all-Egyptian quarter-final battle staged under the chandeliers of the University Club of Chicago’s Cathedral Hall.
Top seed El Sherbini took the advantage in the opening two games after, clawing back game balls in both to take a commanding lead over her compatriot.
However, U.S. Open winner El Tayeb refused to be beaten and she showed the same resilience displayed in her round two encounter with Welshwoman Tesni Evans – where she saved four match-balls to come back and win 3-2 – as she claimed the next three games to book herself a semi-final berth at this year’s event – which offers a record high prize fund of $250,000 in both the men’s and women’s draws.
“Nour is an unbelievable player and we have had a lot of battles this season,” said 24-year-old El Tayeb following her win.
“My coach and husband Ali [Farag] told me to dig in and told me not to worry about the first two games because I was playing well. Being 2-0 down against Nour El Sherbini is probably the hardest thing in the world on a squash court but I just thought I am playing so well and so I just let loose but it was close all the way.”
Joining El Tayeb in the next round to make it a family affair is husband Farag, who dispatched Australia’s Cameron Pilley in straight-games to reach the semi-finals for the second consecutive year.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better day,” said Farag after his victory.
“Both of us won our matches and hopefully the tournament is not over for either of us, but we have very tough competitors tomorrow. The Tour is very deep now, and everyone is playing so well but we hope to keep going forward.”
Farag and El Tayeb will be joined at the last four stage by another married couple after Tarek Momen and defending three-time champion Raneem El Welily also made their way through with wins over compatriot Karim Abdel Gawad and England’s Alison Waters, respectively.
“I’m so glad that I’m having a great week here,” said Momen. “It is my first semi-final at the Windy City Open.
“Karim and I spend a lot of time together and we have had a lot of tough battles in the past with a lot of them going in his favour, so I’m really glad that I came through tonight in three.
“Raneem and I just try to enjoy ourselves on court – everyone is focused on their task and we are both trying to reach as far as possible in this tournament. We just try to support each other the best way we can.”
El Welily, who recorded her 18th successive win in Chicago, added: “Obviously Tarek was playing before me, so I was warming up during his match and it’s fantastic that he won today. He’s been playing well and it's a big win for him and I’m happy that we’re both in the semi-finals – it doesn’t happen that often.”
Completing the family theme in Chicago are brothers Marwan and Mohamed ElShorbagy as they defeated Tournament of Champions winner Simon Rösner and ‘Colombian Cannonball’ Miguel Angel Rodriguez, respectively, to complete an all-Egyptian last four in the men’s draw.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Joelle King and England’s Sarah-Jane Perry complete the women’s line-up after they overcame American Amanda Sobhy and Camille Serme of France, respectively.
Result: Men’s Quarter-Final – 2018 Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family & EquiTrust Life Insurance Company
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Simon Rösner (GER) 3-0: 11-7, 11-4, 11-8 (43m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-0: 11-9, 11-1, 15-13 (46m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-0: 16-14, 11-8, 11-3 (53m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 3-0: 11-7, 14-12, 11-4 (39m)
Draws: Men’s Semi-Finals (To be played February 27)
 Ali Farag (EGY) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Result: Women’s Quarter-Final – 2018 Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family & EquiTrust Life Insurance Company
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt  Camille Serme (FRA) 3-1: 10-12, 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (52m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-2: 10-12, 11-13, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 (77m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt  Amanda Sobhy (USA) 3-1: 11-8, 11-7, 13-15, 11-6 (44m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Alison Waters (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-3, 11-8 (32m)
Draws: Women’s Semi-Finals (To be played February 27)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Joelle King (NZL) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)