Men’s top seed Ali Farag is into round three of the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family after surviving a testing fixture against Hong Kong’s Leo Au at the University Club of Chicago.
It wasn’t a straightforward match for the World No.2, who saw a one-game lead wiped out as Au grew into the match and showcased his impressive retrieving abilities in the second, coming back from 5-2 down to level.
The crowd seemed to be on the side of the man from Hong Kong, but Farag’s incredible reach saw him pick up the majority of what Au threw at him, and the World No.2 held firm to set up a third round clash with 2015 World Championship runner-up Omar Mosaad, who ended a 12-match losing streak to former World No.1 Gregory Gaultier.
“I’m very happy, Leo injects pace without injecting pace in a very weird way,” said Farag, who was playing his first match since losing the World No.1 spot to Mohamed ElShorbagy on February 1.
“The subtleties he has with the height on the front wall and the attacks with a basic line are really deceptive. The court for some reason is a lot faster this year, and it’s hard to adapt to. I was so scared to go short so he doesn’t go and flatten it out, so I was a little too passive.
“I thought I had it after the first, but then he turned it around brilliantly in the second. Somehow with the ‘yallahs’ I found a way through the third and thankfully I was able to win the fourth.
“I haven’t been able to play my best squash in the past couple of months and I can see the progress now with a good block of training between the ToC and the [Egyptian] Nationals, then between the Nationals and here.
“I feel a lot more confidence in my squash, my fitness and my focus. Obviously the matches are different, [winning] the Nationals was a great confidence booster, but here is another big test and I’m happy to be through the first one.”
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Leo Au (HKG) 3-1: 11-6, 7-11, 11-3, 11-5 (38m)