10:12 pm
17 Apr 2024

Asal Storms Into Windy City Semis After Elias Exit

27 Feb 2024

World No.4 Mostafa Asal has reached the semi-finals of the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family for the first time after overcoming No.2 seed Diego Elias in a five-game thriller at the University Club of Chicago.

The pair have struck up quite a rivalry over the last few years, with each of their last five meetings lasting more than an hour, and often being controversial in nature. The most recent of those was a five-game marathon at the Tournament of Champions last month, which went the way of Elias after 90 minutes of action, marking back-to-back wins for the Peruvian.

The world No.2 looked on course to make it three on the bounce when he took a 2/1 lead after a dominant victory in the third game. But Asal was able to steady the ship and produced fine performances in the next two games to seal the victory.

"It's unreal," Asal said after the match. "Just to be playing Diego in the 'new Mostafa' form is difficult. It brings back all the bad days, but it's more flowing, it's good squash.

"There was just a little bit of time where he was not clearing or I was not clearing, but it's just two big guys, so it was really well dealt with by [referee] Roy Gingell and credit to him. He makes the matches quiet and calm and I'm happy with my performance for sure."

Asal's opponent in the last four will be defending champion Paul Coll after the Kiwi got his revenge over Frenchman Victor Crouin following his surprise defeat to the world No.11 at January's Tournament of Champions.

Coll, aiming to win his third PSA World Tour Platinum title of the season, controlled the match and showed real quality in all four corners as he limited Crouin's attacking potential to claim an 11-2, 11-6, 11-4 victory.

"He got me 3/0 a month ago, so I was happy to be able to get revenge today, and I'm looking forward to another semi-final here in Chicago," said Coll.

"I was feeling a bit better in myself [compared to ToC] and I knew what I had to do. I executed the game plan from the first rally to the last. This is one of my favourite venues, I love how compact it is, the ambience around the room is amazing and the crowd is as well, so I always have good vibes here."

The latest chapter of the enthralling rivalry between world No.3 Nouran Gohar and world No.2 Hania El Hammamy will be staged in the women's Windy City Open semis after they scored respective wins over USA's Olivia Weaver and Belgium's Tinne Gilis.

Gohar outplayed world No.6 Weaver, completing an 11-7, 11-2, 11-8 win after 42 minutes of play to continue her title defence.

"It's tough to play against Olivia," said Gohar.

"We share the same coach [Rodney Martin] so it's never easy, but I'm very pleased with the way I played, with my performance in general, and the tactics. I think I managed to execute the game plan well and so far, I'm happy. I love it here in Chicago. Having this huge support of the Walter family is very big for our sport, but I personally really appreciate this. The club members are extremely nice, and it feels like home."

Gohar and El Hammamy will now meet in a repeat of the 2022 Windy City Open final and it will be their 21st meeting on the PSA Tour, with Gohar winning 13 of them. Gohar got the better of El Hammamy with the title on the line two years ago, but 23-year-old El Hammamy will have a shot at revenge in tomorrow's semi-finals after sweeping Gilis aside in just 38 minutes.

"I'll take any win that I get in three," said El Hammamy.

'It's better for me to be fresh and ready for the semis, especially against Gohar. It's always physical, it's always long and being able to get through in three gives me an advantage. It's another match this season [against Gohar], it's very challenging as always. I'm excited for it."