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17 Apr 2024

Favourites Farag & El Sherbini Survive Testing Trials To Reach Windy City Open Quarters

24 Feb 2024

World No.1s Nour El Sherbini and Ali Farag advanced to the quarter-finals of the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family but were made to work hard for their wins at the University Club of Chicago.

El Sherbini came back from a game down against fellow Egyptian Farida Mohamed, eventually running out an 8-11, 12-10, 15-13, 12-10 winner after 59-minutes of intense action.

The 2020 Windy City Open champion has not failed to reach the quarter-finals of a World Tour event since 2015, but that record looked under serious threat midway through this encounter, as she needed to save game balls in each of the last three games. El Sherbini will take on USA's Sabrina Sobhy in the last eight of the Platinum-level event after Sobhy beat England's Lucy Turmel to reach her first Windy City Open quarter-final.

"It wasn't an easy second round," said El Sherbini afterwards.

"Farida is a very good player and an attacking player. She fights until the end, and I wasn't very happy with the way I was playing. I haven't played her for a long time, so it took me a while to get used to her game.

"I'm happy that I won and I'll try to play better in the next round. It was a very tight match and they were tight games. I was leading by two or three points in every game but then that disappeared. I try not to think when I'm game ball down, I just play as if it's 7-7 or 8-7."

Men's 2020 Windy City Open champion Farag was put through his paces by Mexico's unseeded Leonel Cardenas, needing four games and 46 minutes to get past the world No.34.

A fired up Cardenas looked determined to make the most of his time on court against the world's leading male player and slotted some sublime nicks in games one and two as he seized the early initiative.

Farag finally took control mid-way through the second game though as he slowed the pace down and stretched his opponent, and his reward will be a last eight meeting with No.6 seed Karim Abdel Gawad in a repeat of the 2022-23 PSA World Championship final. Gawad twice came back from a game down to see off Colombian veteran Miguel Rodriguez in the final match of the day, a gruelling encounter totalling 82 minutes.

"Leo was very solid all the way through," said Farag afterwards.

"In the third I started playing longer rallies. I thought he was getting tired, but he kept on pushing and he never gave me any easy points. It's a good lesson for me to learn that I should start playing like that from the very beginning. I was trying to go for too many shortcuts and too many quick winners.

"You can't get away with that at this level of squash, so I'm very happy that I managed to come back strong in the third and continued that until the end."