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University Club of Chicago

Windy City Open Semis Preview: Married Couples Eye Up Final Spots

The 2018 Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family & EquiTrust Life Insurance Company could become the first PSA World Tour event in history to feature two married couples on finals night with Ali Farag, Nour El Tayeb, Tarek Momen and Raneem El Welily all vying for a spot in the title-decider.

Squash fans can watch the semi-finals action LIVE on SQUASHTV, Eurosport Player, BT Sport and more from 17:30 local time (GMT-6), with an unpredictable night of drama in store at the University Club of Chicago.

17:30: [7] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v [8] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)

Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb and England’s Sarah-Jane Perry go head-to-head for the second time on the PSA World Tour in the night’s opening match, with their only previous meeting seeing El Tayeb prevail in a five-game clash in August’s China Open.

El Tayeb made history alongside husband Farag in October when they became the first married couple in sporting history ever to win the same major sports title on the same day after taking silverware at the U.S. Open.

That win saw both players claim a maiden World Series title and the pair will hope for history to repeat itself again, starting with a victory for El Tayeb in her clash with Perry tonight.

The Egyptian shot-maker has been in superb form in recent months, with a charge to the final of January’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions seeing her rise up to a career-high World No.3 ranking.

Perry, meanwhile, started the season in style to lift her biggest ever title at the Oracle NetSuite Open in September, but her form has tailed off since then, with the World No.8 falling at the quarter-final stage or earlier in each of her last six tournaments.

But the nine-time PSA title winner has returned to her best in Chicago, sweeping past Sabrina Sobhy and Annie Au in the opening two rounds before recovering from a game down to dismantle World No.5 Camille Serme in impressive style.

She comes up against an equally impressive El Tayeb though after the Egyptian achieved a terrific comeback from two games down against World No.1 Nour El Sherbini last night to earn her semi-final berth.

The fixture promises to get tonight’s action off to an enthralling start, with El Tayeb – who also overturned four match balls against Tesni Evans in round two – aiming to get through to a second successive World Series final and Perry looking to reach that stage for the second time in her career.

Follow on: [2] Ali Farag (EGY) v [4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)

While El Tayeb does battle with Perry, husband Farag will be warming up ahead of a titanic tussle with World Championship runner-up Marwan ElShorbagy in the first of tonight’s all-Egyptian men’s semi-finals.

The sight of Farag and El Tayeb embracing after their victories at the U.S. Open will serve as one of the defining moments of the 2017/18 season and, while Farag will hope for similar scenes tomorrow, he must first navigate a tricky fixture against his in-form compatriot.

ElShorbagy got the better of Farag in their last meeting as he dealt the Harvard-graduate a crushing blow in the semi-finals of December’s PSA World Championships.

Despite falling to older brother Mohamed in the final, ElShorbagy quickly recovered to take the honours at the Pakistan Open a week later before claiming the Motor City Open title last month.

ElShorbagy and Farag have typically traded wins in the past, with ElShorbagy’s victory in Manchester in December coming after Farag won two of their three previous meetings.

Notably, ElShorbagy also got the better of Farag at the same stage of last year’s Windy City Open, following up an emotional win over Mohamed with a composed 3-1 victory that saw him reach the final of a World Series tournament for the first time in his career.

The University Club of Chicago always seems to bring out the best in ElShorbagy – he also reached his first World Series semi-final there in 2015 – and he heads into tonight’s match as perhaps the slight favourite, despite Farag’s superior seeding and World Ranking.

Last Three Meetings

2017 PSA World Championships Semi-Final: Ali Farag 2-3 Marwan ElShorbagy

2017 Bellevue Classic Semi-Finals: Ali Farag 3-1 Marwan ElShorbagy

2017 Windy City Open Semi-Finals: Ali Farag 1-3 Marwan ElShorbagy

Follow on: [9] Joelle King (NZL) v [2] Raneem El Welily (EGY)

World Champion Raneem El Welily is one half of the second married couple in action tonight and the World No.2 is one win away from a remarkable fifth successive final appearance in Chicago.

The Egyptian has won the last three editions of the tournament and recorded an 18th consecutive Windy City Open victory last night when she beat England’s Alison Waters to move into a fourth World Series semi-final of the season.

Standing between El Welily and a place in the final is New Zealand’s Joelle King, who beat home hero Amanda Sobhy in four games to book a place in a second World Series semi-final after she also made it to the last four of the U.S. Open.

King lost out to El Welily on that occasion and the Egyptian has a commanding 10-2 lead on their head-to-head record after winning their first nine meetings.

But King has won two of their last three, including in the final of the Cleveland Classic earlier this month which yielded King a first PSA title since 2016.

King, a former World No.4, has never before reached a World Series final and will need to put in a disciplined performance if she is to overcome the reigning champion.

Three of the Best

2017 Hong Kong Open Quarter-Finals: Joelle King 2-3 Raneem El Welily

2017 U.S. Open Semi-Finals: Joelle King 1-3 Raneem El Welily

2016 U.S. Open Second Round: Joelle King 1-3 Raneem El Welily

Follow on: [6] Tarek Momen (EGY) v [1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)

Tarek Momen will hope to follow wife El Welily through to the title-decider when he lines up against top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy in the final match of the evening.

The World No.7 has reached two World Series finals this season, with his first seeing him go down 3-1 to fellow Egyptian ElShorbagy, while he missed out on the Tournament of Champions title after falling victim to an inspired Simon Rösner.

Momen, who celebrated his 30th birthday on the second day of the Windy City Open, will need to overturn a four-match losing streak against ElShorbagy, with his last win over his Bristol-based compatriot coming back in 2013.

ElShorbagy’s form, however, suggests that Momen will have to do something special to halt the reigning World Champion, who has won six of his last eight tournaments and has lost just once in 25 matches.

Defending champion Gregory Gaultier’s withdrawal from the tournament has ensured that ElShorbagy will return to World No.1 next month for the first time since last April and he will look to cap his rise back to the summit of the World Rankings with a title victory in Chicago.

Last Three Meetings

2017 Qatar Classic Final: Tarek Momen 1-3 Mohamed ElShorbagy

2015 Windy City Open Quarter-Final: Tarek Momen 0-3 Mohamed ElShorbagy

2014 British Open Second Round: Tarek Momen 0-3 Mohamed ElShorbagy

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