Team USA’s Amanda Sobhy exited the Guggenheim Partners & Equitrust Windy City Open at the hands of world No. 3 Raneem El Welily, while Marwan Elshorbagy stunned his older brother and world No. 1 Mohamed Elshorbagy in an eventful quarterfinal round Monday at the University Club of Chicago.
The top four women’s seeds will contest the semifinals, including all three Egyptian reigning world team champions Nour El Sherbini, Nouran Gohar and El Welily.
El Welily extended her winning record to 9-1 against the American world No. 6. It took the defending Windy City Open champion four games and thirty minutes to dispatch Sobhy, 11-6, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5, and set up a semifinal against Gohar.
“I’m very happy to be through – Amanda is such a tough player both physically and mentally so to get out with the win today is fantastic for me,” said El Welily. “I started very well and in the third I was expecting something different from her and automatically changed my plan. She wasn’t at her best today so I hope she is ok.”
J.P Morgan Tournament of Champions and Delaware Investments U.S. Open champion and world No. 2 Camille Serme will take aim at the world No. 1 El Sherbini in the first women’s semifinal Tuesday. Earlier this month, it took the French international five games to defeat England’s Alison Waters in the Cleveland Classic final. In Chicago, Serme went one better to reach the semis in four games and fifty-one minutes, 10-12, 11-6, 12-10, 11-4.
“We played a week ago in Cleveland in the final and it was a really hard match that went for ninety minutes,” Serme said. “So I knew today she’d be hungry for the revenge today—I am very happy I won. She has improved mentally. I remember in some matches she would give up easier but she’s a lot tougher now and today was a really big battle.”
The men’s draw included a historic and emotional match between Elshorbagy brothers, Mohamed, world No. 1, and Marwan, world No. 5. Mohamed, the reigning Windy City Open champion held an unbeaten 7-0 record on the PSA Tour against his younger brother leading into the match, including the 2015 Windy City Open semifinals.
In a five-game, sixty-nine-minute match, the younger brother recovered from losing the first game 1-11 to defeat his older brother for the first time on the PSA World Tour
“It’s tough, we both new it was going to happen at some point,” said Marwan. “My brother and I have had a lot of personal things to deal with this season—that is life and we have to go through these things, and they’ve been affecting us on court. But my brother will come back from it, he’s one of the strongest mental players ever. Every time we play it’s a battle on court—but we are best friends off court.”
The brothers shared a teary embrace at the end of the match, and Mohamed returned to the court during the post-match interview to embrace his brother one more time before exiting.
“I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t a squash player. I’m grateful for the sport—it has allowed me to have my brother as my best friend. We share the same life, have the same dreams and we support each other. We’re there for each other. It’s a tough day today for us—unfortunately I’m probably going to be the player that knocks him off the world No. 1 ranking.
“He went too fast too quickly in the first and I had to try and build the rallies better. He used his experience in the fourth and it could have been the same in the fifth but I found my way back and I think I surprised him with my short game.
“It was maybe my lucky day but I have a big match tomorrow to look forward to. Ali and I have a great chance to reach a first World Series Final.”
Afterwards, Mohamed Tweeted: “Proudest day of my life.”
The world no. 5 will take on Harvard graduate and world no. 7 Ali Farag in the semifinals, who defeated Germany’s world No. 10 Simon Rösner.
Despite Mohamed’s loss, it is unlikely he will lose the world No. 1 ranking after world No. 2 and men’s world champion Karim Abdel Gawad suffered a shock four-game upset against thirty-four-year-old Spaniard Borja Golan.
“I had a back injury and a few months ago I didn’t know if I’d be able to play again – I was 34 and my back wasn’t responding well,” Golan said. “I kept doing the work and I was so happy to get back on court in December. But I hadn’t won a match until this week and I think that match winning confidence is so important to help you increase your level.
Golan will vie for a spot in the final against France’s Gregory Gaultier, who beat England’s James Willstrop in three games.
“And today I had nothing to lose. I knew I’d have to be at my best and even then it’s not going to be simple because he is so good – but I took the opportunities. I didn’t start very well but after that first game I just tried to push myself. I defended well and tried to be very aggressive as well. I was trying to change the pace as well and it worked.
“Tomorrow is another match. I want to enjoy this one—eat well and sleep well and then I’ll worry about the next one. There’s no point playing if you can’t take some time to enjoy the win.”
Tuesday’s semifinals begin at 5pm local time, 6pm ET. Watch the matches live on SquashTV.
For tickets and more information visit www.windycityopen.com.