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Hania El Hammamy in action against Rachel Arnold

Windy City Open Day Two: Glass Court - Player Reaction

The second round of the Windy City Open PPresented by the Walter Family gets under way today with four courts of action LIVE from 12:00 (GMT-6).

You can watch all the action live on SQUASHTV and keep up with all the live scores from the event here. Currently you can get 22% off an annual pass by using the code 22222 at checkout – offer ends February 27.

Along with keeping up to date with all the reaction from the glass court on day one in Chicago, you can keep tabs with what is going on in the side court action, right here.

The seeded players enter the draw on day two with No.3 seed Hania El Hammamy getting the day's play under way against Malaysia's Rachel Arnold.

World No.1s Ali Farag and Nour El Sherbini are both in action as they face Germany's Raphael Kandra and England's Julianne Courtice respectively.

Home interest comes in the form of Amanda Sobhy and Olivia Fiechter who will be flying the USA flag. They come up against Canada's Hollie Naughton and England's Georgina Kennedy respectively.

That match between Fiechter and Kennedy, along with Egypt’s Tarek Momen taking on Colombian No.1 Miguel Rodriguez, will be a free double-header on our Facebook page, YouTube channel and TikTok channel.

Order of Play

El Hammamy Takes Dominant Win

Egypt’s World No.3 Hania El Hammamy secured a safe passage through to the third round as she got her Windy City Open campaign under way with a 3-0 win over Malaysia’s Rachel Arnold.

El Hammamy was at her clinical best as she moved through the gears to take the first game, despite a good start from Arnold, who was unable to hit her marks when it mattered towards the end of the game.

From that moment on it was sheer dominance from the 21-year-old Egyptian as she took the second and third games by an 11-1 and 11-4 margin to advance in Chicago.

She will face either England’s Millie Tomlinson or compatriot Mariam Metwally in the next round.

“Playing against Rachel is never easy,” said El Hammamy in her post-match interview.

“I’ve played against her a couple of times and it always tricky playing against her. She’s very talented and she likes to throw you in front a lot and I had to be very sharp from the beginning. I’m happy with the way I was able to manage the win.

“I’m really excited to be playing in Chicago, really happy to be back. I took some time off after Black Ball, I wanted to get ready and try to take some time off, reflect on how I did in 2021. We have a lot of tournaments coming up, hopefully the rest and preparation I had will pay off.”

Result:
[3] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Rachel Arnold (MAS) 3-0: 11-8, 11-1, 11-4 (23m)

ElShorbagy Moves into Third Round

Mohamed ElShorbagy

Egypt’s World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy claimed an 11-9, 11-4, 11-7 victory over France’s Mathieu Castagnet to reach the third round of the Windy City Open.

ElShorbagy, who returned to PSA World Tour action last week with victory at the Squash on Fire Open, was playing his first match at the Platinum event after receiving a bye in the opening round and he lay down an early marker with an impressive victory over the former World No.6.

The two are familiar opponents with 15 meetings under their belts and ElShorbagy added to his run of nine consecutive victories under the chandeliers of the University Club of Chicago, with the former World No.1 insisting he has a point to prove this week.

He will face the winner of Mexico’s Leonel Cardenas v Egypt’s Youssef Ibrahim in the next round.

“Castagnet has a lot of experience and we have played so many times in so many different venues,” said ElShorbagy.

“One of them was here a few years ago. He’s always going to fight until the last point, he’s a huge fighter and I’ve witnessed him when he was playing in the top ten. He’s had some good wins against me and I’ve had some good wins against him. It’s great to get on court with him and I hope we can play again in the future.

“Everyone is saying I’m making my comeback, I only won a 50K event. If I win a Platinum event then people can say I’m making a comeback, but so far I’ve made no statement whatsoever. I feel it was a warm-up event for me to get back to the level that I know how to play. I’m looking forward to playing against all of the top players here. Last year, things didn’t go that great towards the end of it. Everyone said it was a bad season but if someone else had of played that season last year it would have been the best season of their life.

“People expect me to be in finals all the time, certainly I expect myself to be in finals all time before everyone else. I’m here to try and regain the top spot again and there are certainly a lot of great players playing well at the moment, it’s one of the biggest challenges I’ve had to face in my career, but I love a challenge.”

Result:
[3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-0: 11-9, 11-4, 11-7 (36m)

Kennedy Wins Thriller with Home Hope Fiechter

Georgina Kennedy

England’s World No.10 Georgina Kennedy advanced to the third round of the PSA World Tour Platinum event following a thrilling 11-8, 13-15, 11-3, 13-11 victory over World No.11 Olivia Fiechter.

The two players had met recently when Kennedy claimed a 3-1 victory at last month’s Cleveland Classic and she once again produced the goods against the home hope on the spectacular glass court inside the University Club of Chicago.

Both players are enjoying the best form of their careers to date and the first game certainly showed that as they disaplyed their accurate shot making and athleticism before the Englishwoman took the lead.

There was even less between them as the match wore on with both players saving two game balls each in the second game before Fiechter was able to convert on the third attempt to draw level.

Kennedy’s fitness came to the forefront in the third though as she comfortably got her lead back before another game went the distance in the fourth. 24-year-old Kennedy was forced to show her resilience as she saved two game balls before converting her first match ball attempt with a fortunate tight shot that caught out the American.

Kennedy will face Belgium’s Nele Gilis for a place in the quarter finals after she defeated Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb on the traditional courts.

“That lucky tight shot that I hit at the end helped me pull the win off,” said Kennedy following her match.

“As you can see by the scoreline that match could have gone either way. It was such a battle down that backhand wall, Liv was killing me with stepping in and volleying it, so I was trying to get it off her volley and use the front of the court as much as I could. It’s such an enjoyable battle against Liv, there was probably only a couple of lets, one or two reviews, it’s such clean squash and even if I’d have lost today, I would have been happy with that performance.

“Last season I had a great time but it was a bit easier for me coming in as the underdog and the pressure was off, but now it’s very different. I was happy with my draw though, win or lose, me and Liv are No.10 and 11 in the world, so it was a great battle and losing to Liv is not anything to be scared of, she is such a great player. I’m really thankful to get the win this time and I’m sure next time will be different.”

Result:
Georgina Kennedy (ENG) bt Olivia Fiechter (USA) 3-1: 11-8, 13-15, 11-3, 13-11 (58m)

Momen Takes Out Rodriguez to Advance

Tarek Momen

Egypt’s World No.4 Tarek Momen came from a game down against Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez to reach the last 16 in Chicago.

The two talented players went toe-to-toe in the first game with Rodriguez’s exquisite speed and finesse putting on a show for the crowd inside the University Club of Chicago as he converted on his second game ball attempt to take the lead.

It looked as though he was going to double that advantage as the Colombian built up another good lead, holding a 10-7 advantage in the second. However, Momen, who celebrated his 34th birthday yesterday, steadied the ship and built up a good rhythm to save all three game balls before drawing level.

Former World Champion Momen turned the match around from that moment on as he displayed his array of shots to lift the ball and slow play down, moving Rodriguez around the court to take a 2-1 lead before comfortably closing out 11-5 in the fourth.

Momen will face either compatriot Omar Mosaad or Scotland’s Greg Lobban in the last 16.

“There was this one shot at 8-10 or 9-10 when I hit this dropshot from the back and I don’t know what I was thinking,” said Momen.

“It came right on top of the tin. I stopped thinking I guess because it was a poor performance from my end in the beginning, not the whole time, but there were patches when I thought I should be pushing harder. I wasn’t feeling energetic today at the beginning, but I tried to hang in there. In the first game I felt flat, but I kept pushing, I lost it on the tie-break but it was ok.

“In the second game I was very disappointed until 10-6 with the way I conducted myself on court and then it turned around and I was extremely proud to manage to squeeze that one out to stop it being a 2-0 deficit is really tough to pull off.

“Miguel didn’t make it easy for me, I had a 6-0 lead in the third and he came back again and the ball started to cool off, it wasn’t going to the back anymore. It was a matter of who would sneak the next winning shot, I’m very pleased with the way I pushed through, I’m hoping to feel better and play better. I’m happy with the win.”

Result:
[4] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Miguel Rodriguez (COL) 3-1: 11-13, 12-10, 11-7, 11-5 (56m)

El Sherbini Gets Title Defence off to Strong Start

Nour El Sherbini in action against Julianne Courtice

World No.1 Nour El Sherbini booked her place in the last 16 of the Windy City Open following an 11-4,11-3,11-7 victory over England’s Julianne Courtice.

The defending champion, who defeated former World No.1 Raneem El Welily in the 2020 edition to lift the title, was at her accurate best to make light work of the World No.61, who recorded an impressive victory over Wales’ Emily Whitlock in the first round.

El Sherbini will face Belgium’s Tinne Gilis for a place in the quarter finals.

“I’m really happy with the way I played,” said El Sherbini.

“I’ve never played her before and it’s the first round also for me. I just wanted to get on court, get used to it and I’m really happy to be through.

“It’s one of my favourite places to play, I love playing here, I love this court and I have very good memories here. I always try to have good memories at every tournament, but this one is very special and I love playing here, I play my best squash here and hopefully I keep going this week.

“I think Jonah Barrington’s comments are the best thing that has happened to me this year. Jonah is unbelievable and he’s always the best talking about squash and players, so coming from him is huge and special. It makes me want to be better and what he said about me [being the greatest women’s player], I hope I deserve it.”

Result:
[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Julianne Courtice (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-3, 11-7 (22m)

Farag Reaches Last 16

Ali Farag against Raphael Kandra

World No.1 Ali Farag conquered Germany’s Raphael Kandra in straight-games to book his place in the last 16 of the PSA World Tour Platinum event taking place at the University Club of Chicago.

Farag has a strong affiliation with Chicago after winning his two World Championship titles in the Windy City, along with the 2020 edition of this tournament.

The Egyptian made sure he started his tournament with a bang as he was at his best to overcome Kandra 11-5, 11-7, 11-9 with his effortless movement around the court and left the German struggling to come up with any reply to his accurate hitting despite Kandra’s best efforts.

Farag will face India’s Saurav Ghosal in the third round after he got the better of England’s George Parker on the traditional courts earlier in the day.

“I step on court just trying to win and win every point,” said Farag afterwards.

“If it’s a win it’s a bonus and if it’s a 3-0 win then it’s even better, but you can’t think too far ahead of yourself. Raphi loves to play very open squash, it’s not easy to maintain. It was a tough day watching Nour [El Tayeb] play a tough five-setter, very emotional one and doing so well, and then having to come back less than two hours later. Raphi plays a very unique brand of squash, I had to be on my metal and I was a little subdued and I knew it but I didn’t want to fire myself up because I think that was the best attitude to go forward today.

“Nour and I were roaming the streets of Chicago and taking pictures with Farida, as if she would remember anything. It’s fun to be on the streets again, even if it was much nicer weather in July! We rented the same apartment that my parents were staying in and reliving the memories and hopefully one day we can show her where she was born while we still play.”

Result:
[1] Ali Farag (EGY) bt Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 11-9 (34m)

Sobhy Takes Victory Over Naughton

Amanda Sobhy

USA No.1 Amanda Sobhy secured her place in the last 16 of the Windy City Open with an 11-5, 11-6, 11-2 victory over Canada’s Hollie Naughton in the penultimate match of the day on the glass court.

The two have only met once before on the PSA Tour with that meeting coming on this very court in July during the PSA World Championships, where home favourite Sobhy took a 3-1 victory.

However, it was more straightforward for the World No.4. today as she used pace to her advantage, moving the World No.17 around the court to always cause a breakaway in the scoreline in all three games, eventually closing out in just 29 minutes.

She will face either Egypt’s Hana Ramadan or Wales’ Tesni Evans in the last 16.

“I haven’t played a major even since the U.S. Open,” said Sobhy afterwards.

“I wanted to just come out here and be like ‘hey, I did take a lot of time off’. My last couple of results weren’t the greatest, but I’m back and that’s all that matters. I kept it in true Sobhy fashion 3-0 under the 30 minute mark. I’m excited to be back, I love this venue, I have great memories here and I hope to keep progressing.

“I’m just going to remember the good times I had and what got me those wins and it was really enjoying myself out there. I love doing this, yes it might be hard but I love performing, grinding it out, putting on a show for the crowd so I’m just going to try and keep it going.”

Result:
[4] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Hollie Naughton (CAN) 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-2 (29m)

Coll Defeats Willstrop in Day’s Final Match

Paul Coll (right) takes on James Willstrop (left)

2020 runner-up Paul Coll began his title challenge with a hard-fought 3-0 win over former World No.1 James Willstrop in the final match of the day.

Coll, who will go to World No.1 on March 1, the day of the semi finals, had won his previous two matches against ‘The Marksman’ but he didn’t have it all his own way as Willstrop proved to be a tough competitor.

There were a number of lengthy rallies between the pair which brought appreciative cheers from the gathered crowd at the University Club of Chicago, with Coll pulling away at the midpoint of each game.

Speaking after his 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 win, Coll said: “He deserves all the respect and support from you guys that he gets. He’s one of my favourite players on tour and he’s a great champion.

“He’s someone I try to model myself on, he’s very fair, very respectful, honest, and he’s a great squash player to watch and play against.

“It’s going to be the best day of my life [going to World No.1]. I’m just focusing on titles at the moment, I’m trying to win every tournament I enter, especially the big ones like this one. It’s one of my favourite venues to come to, the atmosphere is always great, the location is just amazing and I just love everything about coming here.

“I’ve got some good memories here, I’ve always played well here, so I’m just going to try to enjoy the week and take it one match at a time.”

Coll will take on either England’s Adrian Waller or Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng in the next round.

Result
[2] Paul Coll (NZL) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 (44m)

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