Gregory Gautier picked up the 39th title of his career - and his fifth
consecutive tournament win in 2017 - after defeating Egyptian Ali Farag
in the final of the 2017 Grasshopper Cup in Zurich, recording his 23rd
consecutive PSA Tour match win in the process.
The 34-year-old, who in April became squash's oldest ever World No.1,
hasn't lost a competitive match since January, winning the Swedish Open,
Windy City Open, British Open and El Gouna International in succession.
And he made it five in a row after narrowly edging past World No.8 Farag
courtesy of a 3-0 scoreline that didn't truly reflect the
competitiveness of the 53 minute match.
Farag posed arguably the stiffest challenge Gaultier has faced during
his recent run as he read the Frenchman's game well to counter
Gaultier's attacks and cause him trouble in all four corners of the
court. After losing the first two games narrowly, Farag found himself
with two game ball opportunities in the third - which would have changed
the dynamic of the match. But he was left to rue what could have been as
Gaultier managed to stem the tide and come through 11-8, 11-9, 14-12 and
continue his charge.
"I'm really happy to win the title and I felt like I played well today,
but 3-0 doesn't reflect the battle because we played almost an hour,"
"I knew he was playing well this week as well and that it would be
tough. I had to tactically play simple and not open he court up for him
and I was ready for it.
had to put in a big push in the third to come back from behind because
my energy was dropping and he was getting better and better. I was very
happy to finish it in three.
"I've had an amazing run since January, but there's no secret to the
success. I've been working hard my whole life and have a team supporting
me and working with me every day - and that work has been paying off. I
had a bad run in 2016 with injuries and that has really motivated me
this season as well.
"I've still got two more events to play this season so hopefully I can
keep it going and keep my level up."
A good run in his next event, the Pacific Market International Bellevue
Squash Classic 2017, could also see Gaultier reclaim the World No.1 spot
he lost to Karim Abdel Gawad at the start of this month.
Speaking after the match Farag said: "He was better than me in the first
but at the end of that game I felt like I was getting into it and
finding a way to play him. I was playing well but he came back very
strong in the third. It was a flip of a coin at the end, had I won I
that game I think it would have gone to five, but there are no regrets.
I've had a great week here and I'm proud of what I've achieved."
final of the 2017 Grasshopper Cup in Zurich will see Egyptian World No.8
Ali Farag, conquerer of both Mohamed ElShorbagy and Nick Matthew, take
on in-form World No.2 Gregory Gaultier for the spoils - when the
Frenchman will be aiming to win a 23rd consecutive match and fifth
consecutive PSA World Tour title.
34-year-old Gaultier, the 2015 World Champion and 2015 Grasshopper Cup
champion, has won the Swedish Open, Windy City Open, British Open and El
Gouna International on his last four outings and continued to show that
he is the standard bearer as he downed Tarek Momen - who had beaten
World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad 24 hours earlier - in straight games to set
up a title decider with Farag.
Gaultier was far from his best at times during the 51 minute encounter
but managed to do enough to prevent Momen from gaining a foothold in
proceedings and prevail 11-9, 11-5, 12-10.
haven't dropped a game so far this week but it was close today as there
were some very intense rallies in there and two very close games," said
"I managed to keep my focus at the end despite being maybe a little
nervous. I was being too passive and was waiting to counter him. But
when I play him I'm alway sharp the next day because he forces me into
all four corners, so I'm going to be sharp tomorrow.
"I'm just trying to do the best I can and keep up my level. Ali has been
playing well every match. He had an unbelievable quarter-final and it
was surprising how well he backed up today. He has lots of skills so I
have to be on my toes tomorrow and be ready but hopefully I will bring
my best perfomance of the week."
Farag meanwhile secured his place in the finale courtesy of a 3-0 win
over three-time World Champion Nick Matthew that came just 24 hours
after Farag had downed Mohamed ElShorbagy in a highly entertaining
Farag, who has at times struggled to find consistency on court this
season, looked relaxed from the off and put together one of his most
complete performances - a performance that was in direct contrast to a
subpar performance from 36-year-old Nick Matthew - to come through in
"Before the match I actually had no expectations - for the first time in
my career I was going into a match knowing I wouldn't mind losing," said
"I think that mindset meant I loosened up and played some of my best
today. I'm very happy with how I played in the first and then there were
a few crucial points in the second that went my way and that was crucial
because 1-1 and 2-0 is very different. Had I lost that second it would
have been a totally different story.
"I got away with the win and hopefully tomorrow I can pull off another
one - I've another final to look forward to. Last time I made a big
final in Al Ahram (in September 2016) I didn't back up very well and
lost easily in the final, so tomorrow I'll give it a big push."
Egyptian World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad and compatriot Mohamed ElShorbagy
- the man who topped the PSA World Rankings for 28 months up to March
2017 - crashed out of the 2017 Grasshopper Cup during a dramatic day of
quarter-finals action inside Zurich's Puls5 today.
2016 World Champion, succumbed to another Egyptian, World No.10 Tarek
Momen, in a highly entertaining five game battle that saw the pair put
together rally after rally of the highest calibre - hitting all four
corners of the court in an exhibition of free flowing, attacking squash.
After taking the opening game 11-7, 29-year-old Momen managed to keep
his composure and produce one of his best performances in recent years
to fend off a huge charge from Gawad and see out the match in five,
winning 11-7, 8-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-6. He will now face Frenchman Gregory
Gaultier - who hasn't lost on his last 21 outings on the PSA World Tour
- for a place in the final.
"That was a big match for me today because I know I've been playing well
and been in some of my best form of late - but I've been coming up short
by narrow margins time and time again," said Momen.
"It was very tough for me mentally - I tried very hard to keep believing
in myself and not fall into the trap of doubting myself after making
errors. I'm very happy that I managed to come through because I feel
like I was due one big win before the end of the season.
"There was some scrappy play at times today but to beat the World No.1
is amazing and I'm going to enjoy the semi-final tomorrow. I've played
some big matches with Greg this season and I'm looking forward to
another one tomorrow."
was in commanding form as he dispatched Germany's Simon Rösner in a
routine 3-0 while it was World No.8 Ali Farag who toppled tournament top
seed ElShorbagy in a back and forth 81 minute battle.
ElShorbagy, who's recent performances on court have seem him battle
internal demons more than his opponents, put in a Jekyl and Hyde
performance while Farag foght through physical barriers in the decisive
fifth game to complete a come-from-behind win.
was a crucial point in the middle of the fifth game where I gave him
some cheap points," said Farag.
"But I dug in, told myself not to give up on it and thankfully it worked
because it was a flip of a coin at the end. I was trying to loosen up
and go for my shots because I was maybe playing too conservative before
then and I was starting to cramp up physically.
"I'm really excited to be in the semi-finals now."
Farag will go up against England's three-time World Champion Nick
Matthew for a place in the finals after the 36-year-old from Sheffield
recorded a routine win against Omar Mosaad.
Dutch footballer Marco van Basten has praised the world’s top squash
stars after the 52-year-old attended the second day of action at the
2017 Grasshopper Cup currently taking place in Zurich’s Puls5.
Van Basten, a three-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner who represented AFC
Ajax, A.C. Milan and the Netherlands national football team, is one of
the greatest footballers of all time and scored over 300 goals
throughout a glittering playing career.
And with the likes of World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad and the man he
dethroned at the summit of the World Rankings earlier this week -
Gregory Gaultier - taking to the court during day two of the PSA M100
tournament held in Zurich, van Basten was quick to laud the skills of
the world’s leading squash players.
"I think the set up here is great," said van Basten, who now holds the
post of FIFA Chief Officer for Technical Development.
"For me, it's the first time I've seen an international squash
tournament up close - the level is very high and it is unbelievable what
the players can do on the court.
"It’s like playing chess and it is also physical. You can be smart,
strong, mean and I like that. It's like boxing but it is also like
music, it's very technical, so it has a bit of everything.
"The players are so strong, so quick and also clever - it really is a
top sport. But the players are also humble which is very nice to see."
An ankle injury saw van Basten play his last professional football match
at the age of just 28 and the Dutchman revealed that the injury pushed
him towards taking up squash in recent years - and he still plays three
times a week.
"After my football career, I had a problem with my ankle which meant I
couldn't play other sports easily," he continued.
"I tried golf and biking, which I didn't like, and tennis, but the court
was too big for me. All of a sudden I found myself playing squash a few
years ago - I felt good, was enjoying myself and I had no problems with
my ankle, so I've continued playing since."
The Grasshopper Cup continues tonight (May 5) from 17:30 local time,
with the quarter-finals shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and
Eurosport Player (Europe Only).
Draw - Quarter-finals: 2017 Grasshopper Cup  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) v  Nick Matthew (ENG)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
World No.1 Gregory Gaultier was in imperious form as he extended his
winning streak on the PSA World Tour to 20 consecutive matches,
defeating England's Daryl Selby 3-0 to reach the quarter-finals of the
2017 Grasshopper Cup inside Zurich's Puls 5 today - where he was joined
by current World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad.
Gaultier hasn't lost a Tour match since the final of January's
Tournament of Champions - a streak that has seen him collect the Swedish
Open, Windy City Open, British Open and El Gouna Open titles in
succession - and he continued to show that he is the dominant force in
Men's squash as he overcame Selby in just over 30 minutes.
"I tried to inject a lot of pace into it from the first point - we were
both tired from the European Teams and it's always hard to back up after
just a few days," said Gaultier.
"We all train hard and have we have played a lot of matches since
January but we keep on going and going until we collapse! I thought that
we both played a good game and the scoreline maybe doesn't reflect the
"But I think I got the tactics right - to play fast from the first
point. I'm happy with the way I played and hopefully I can carry it on
and my fitness will be there."
now face German Simon Rösner in the last eight after the man from
Paderborn came through 3-1 over New Zealand's Paul Coll while Gawad, who
overtook Gaultier atop the World Rankings on May 1st, also impressed as
he defeated French number two Gregoire Marche 3-0.
The opening game was closely fought between the pair - going all the way
to a 13-11 tie break - but from then on it was one way traffic as Gawad
controlled proceedings to leave Marche cutting a frustrated figure at
is a very tough opponent - we used to play with each other in the
juniors so I know his game and I'm very pleased to get through in
three," said Gawad.
"Everything that has happened to me this season is unbelievable. I'm
very grateful to my team for the support over the past few years - there
are still a lot of dreams and ambitions I have to achieve and that's
what I am playing for."
Gawad will go up against compatriot Tarek Momen for a place in the
semi-finals after the 28-year-old from Cairo beat French number three
Mathieu Castagnet 3-0.
top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy, the World No.3 and former World No.1, was
forced to call on an act of escapism to avoid a shock first round exit
at the hands of local hero Nicolas Mueller and keep his 2017 Grasshopper
Cup campaign alive - coming back from 2-1 down inside Zurich's Puls 5
Inspired by a partizan and vocal crowd Mueller, the World No.34,
recovered from a slow first game to take control of the encounter and
force ElShorbagy - a naturally aggressive and attacking player - onto
the back foot. And the Egyptian, now based in Bristol, England,
struggled to adapt, looking off the boil and at times cutting a
lethargic figure on court.
But a series of early errors from Mueller in the fourth game gifted
ElShorbagy an opening which he grasped, upping the pace and attacking at
every opportunity to tire Mueller and complete the turnaround win.
"Nicki played some great squash today - he was playing really high
quality and made it difficult," said ElShorbagy.
always had great potential and we played together in the World Juniors.
Today was another battle, but one that I think it was played in great
spirit and I'm very grateful to Omar (Mosaad
left), Tarek (Momen) and Ali (Farag) who were there to help me
today. I wouldn't have won without them.
"The support he had today was fantastic - that kind of support is what
makes the sport special and I think it's a great set up here for the
tournament, so hopefully I can do well this week."
After the match Mueller said: "When I play him I know I have to be at my
very best just to be close. In the fourth I had a bad start and he got
the momentum - and managed to silence the crowd as well."
ElShorbagy will now face compatriot Farag in the quarter-finals after
the former Harvard student impressed to defeat Australian Cameron Pilley
3-0 while Mosaad secured his last eight place with a 3-0 win over Omar
After enduring a season of disappointment to date, in which he crashed
out at the first round in seven events and saw his World Ranking crash
from 3 to 32, Mosaad looked to have turned the corner as he put in a
controlling performance to defeat Meguid.
"This season has been tough - I've not played well," said Mosaad after
the match. "I tried to refocus during the last few months and I'm happy
to win today because it's a good win for my confidence.
"I'm just happy to be through and into the next round. It's great to be
back here in Zurich again. I enjoy playing here and hopefully I can
improve my level again for the next round."
will take on England's Nick Matthew, the three-time World Champion who
marked his debut at the tournament with a comfortable 3-0 win over Zahed
Mohamed - preventing an Egyptian rout on day one.
The 36-year-old World No.4 was imperious in the opening two games as he
bossed the play, commanding the centre of the court and making Mohamed
do all the hard yards. To his credit the young Egyptian came back strong
in the third and matched Matthew, trading points with 'The Wolf' all the
way to a tense tie-break, but Matthew's class told as he squeezed the
errors to secure the match in three.
"To have a crowd like this in the first round is a real pleasure -
hopefully they had a great time. It's like a crowd we get a finals at
some tournaments so it's great to be here," said Matthew.
"There was a quick turnaround after the European Teams so I wasn't sure
how I would I would be coming in. These guys all keep getting better and
I'm trying my best to stay up there. I can't take any of them for
granted, the first rounds are so tough now days."