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16 Jul 2024

Stunning Comeback Sees Ibrahim Blow Elshorbagy Out Of Windy City

26 Feb 2022

World No.17 Youssef Ibrahim made it three wins out of three against former world No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy when he came back from two games down and then overturned two match balls to despatch the No.3 seed and reach the quarter finals of the Windy City Open Presented by the Walter Family.

Elshorbagy has found it difficult against Ibrahim over the past two years, with Ibrahim claiming huge upsets at both the 2020 and 2021 Qatar Classics, with the latter win seeing Elshorbagy take a four-month break to prepare for the second half of the season.

The two-time Windy City Open champion returned with a title-winning display at the Squash on Fire Open last week and was good value for his 2/0 lead against Ibrahim, with the 31-year-old playing tight, controlled squash and profiting off his opponent's errors.

Ibrahim went up another level in the third game, however, as he started playing winners from all areas of the court. Initially, Elshorbagy couldn't respond as the higher-ranked player surrendered the third game, only to get back on top in the fourth to hold a match ball. A tin from the world No.3 handed Ibrahim a lifeline though and he made no mistake in levelling the scores, after overturning a further match ball.

A promising start to the fifth from Elshorbagy saw him lead 4-1, but Ibrahim's powers of recovery were evident once again as the 22-year-old - who is currently studying at Princeton University - launched yet another comeback, taking 10 of the next 12 points on offer to seal a huge win.

"What a week," Ibrahim said afterwards.

"I'm playing one of the best players in the history of the game and it's such an honour to be on court with Mohamed. I knew it would be such a tough game and he did everything he could to win. I got caught in the first two games, but I stayed calm and I tried to stay with him in the third and with every game being so close it was so mental."

Ibrahim has a big opportunity to reach a first PSA World Tour Platinum semi-final but will need to get past Iker Pajares Bernabeu first. Unseeded Pajares became just the third Spanish player to reach the last four of a Platinum event after he axed Mexico's Cesar Salazar in five games.

"I was feeling very nervous, I think I was 7-1 up in the fourth and he came back but I'm just so happy to get through," said the Spaniard.

"It's never easy to play a good friend like Cesar, we spend a lot of time together but I just had to focus on my game and try to stay solid and get the win."

Elshorbagy's younger brother, Marwan, is also through after beating men's USA No.2 Todd Harrity 3/0 - and he will take on world No.1 Ali Farag in a mouth-watering quarter final clash. Farag's third round match with Ghosal did not go ahead, with Ghosal withdrawing due to an injury sustained during his second round fixture with England's George Parker, meaning Farag received a walkover into the last eight.

In the women's event, all four of the matches went to seeding, with defending champion Nour El Sherbini, world No.3 Hania El Hammamy, world No.7 Salma Hany and world No.9 Rowan Elaraby all winning.

El Sherbini will take on Elaraby next after she got the better of Belgium's Tinne Gilis in a thrilling five-game battle. Gilis was magnificent and unsettled the reigning World Champion, but El Sherbini used her big-game experience to grind out the win.

"To win this match I had to really dig deep" admitted El Sherbini.

"She was playing so well and getting everything back, it was an amazing match and I'm really happy to be through, these matches give you confidence and belief."

Meanwhile, No.3 seed El Hammamy sailed through to the quarter finals after beating Mariam Metwally, who retired through injury mid-way through the third game. El Hammamy and Hany will go head-to-head for a place in the semis.

"I think from growing up watching the top Egyptian players, I learned that you need to be consistent in this game to reach world No.1 or to be successful, so that's something I think about," said El Hammamy.

"I'm really looking forward to playing Salma, she's been doing really well recently. I haven't played her for a while and I think we're both playing well, so it should be a good match and I'm looking forward to it."