10:55 pm
22 Apr 2024

Upsets Take Kennedy & Hesham Into Breakthrough Windy City Semis

26 Feb 2024

Egypt's Mazen Hesham and England's Georgina Kennedy have reached the semi-finals of the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family for the first time after they upset No.4 seeds Mohamed Elshorbagy and Nele Gilis, respectively, at the University Club of Chicago.

World No.7 Hesham had beaten Elshorbagy 3/2 at the Houston Open last week - his second straight win over the Englishman after losing their previous 11 encounters - and he made it three in a row with another dramatic victory in Chicago, coming back from two games to one and match ball down to secure victory.

"Today was really hard, mentally and physically," said Hesham afterwards.

"It's really hard to beat Mo twice in a row, and I only played him last week, so I knew he would come at me really hard to get his revenge. What a fight, man. The guy keeps fighting until the last minute.

"For a guy like me who was almost not going to play again because of the injuries, any day on court is a happy day. I hate losing, but I'm a much better loser now. I hope this can keep going for a bit and I enjoy my squash more and more."

Hesham will go up against compatriot Ali Farag for a place in the Platinum-level final after the world No.1 dispatched world No.5 Karim Abdel Gawad in the other men's quarter-final.

The match was a repeat of the most recent men's PSA World Championship final, with Farag getting the better of Gawad, as he did in the final of the sport's biggest tournament. His 11-2, 12-10, 11-4 victory takes him one win away from a second Windy City Open final, having won the event in 2020.

"Karim is such a dangerous player and for the first game and a half I didn't put a foot wrong," said Farag.

"I was trying to get in front of him, play as accurately as possible and close down the angles. I did that very well up until 6-1 and then I hit two errors, which I don't think were the wrong shots, but then you get a little nervy and when Karim gets going he can hit winners out of nowhere. All of a sudden you find yourself at 8-8, but thankfully I got that one because it would have made a big psychological difference."

In the women's event, Kennedy booked a place in her second Platinum semi-final, putting in a clinical performance to upset Gilis 11-9, 4-11, 11-6, 11-5 in 62 minutes.

"That was a massive win for me," Kennedy said.

"Nele has been the one to beat recently, she's been picking up all the titles. I played her recently in Singapore and she got the better of me. Now she's No.4 in the world, she has a little bit of different pressure because she's the higher-ranked player and the rest of us are targeting her."

Kennedy will take on world No.1 Nour El Sherbini for a place in the final after the Egyptian beat USA's Sabrina Sobhy 11-8, 11-3, 11-3.

Sobhy had enjoyed a successful week on home soil to this point, and was playing in just her second Platinum quarter-final, but was outplayed by the Egyptian, who won the Windy City Open in 2020.

"I'm really happy with the way I played and with the way I was moving," El Sherbini said.

"I didn't start very well in the last couple of matches, so I wanted to start well and have a big lead. I was trying to keep the lead for a longer time, but I'm just happy that I won the game. I'm happy I didn't lose a game and was happy with the second and the third."