Gregory Gaultier lifted his sixth PSA World Tour title in a row after he
defeated Egypt’s World No.8 Ali Farag in the final of the inaugural
Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash Classic - a win which will
also see him return to the top of the World Rankings next month to break
his own record as the oldest ever World No.1.
The 34-year-old was meeting Farag in a second successive final after the
pair contested the Grasshopper Cup final a fortnight ago and the man
from Egypt pushed Gaultier to tie-breaks in the opening two games, with
Gaultier fighting back from a game ball down in the opener and then four
game balls down in the second to take the lead.
Farag, who had hit a number of sublime winners throughout the match,
continued to perform well in the third as he went 6-3 up, but Gaultier
dug in once more to move back out in front and he sealed the win on his
first championship ball to make it 27 matches undefeated, while he has
now gone 10 matches without dropping a single game.
Gaultier’s victory - his 40th PSA World Tour title in what was his 79th
final - also sees him win over $25,000, which is a record amount for a
squash tournament containing a 16-man draw
Frenchman’s incredible run of form in 2017 has seen him add the Bellevue
Classic crown to successive title wins at the Swedish Open, Windy City
Open, British Open, El Gouna International and Grasshopper Cup and he
will overtake current World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad to top the World
Rankings on June 1.
"I am not going to say that it was easy to keep fresh every day, I had
to find the motivation every day, but I did find it, and every day I was
happy to come and play," said Gaultier.
"I just forgot about being tired, about the little aches and pains, and
just pushed myself on the day.
"Hard luck to Ali. It's been two times in a row, but he showed real
consistency. He's been up and down this season, but this month he proved
that he is starting to raise the bar. It's very difficult to beat this
who will move into the world’s top five next month, said: "Obviously I
am disappointed today, but I'm happy with how I finished the season
reaching two finals in a row.
"I had a good feeling today. The minute I stepped off court at the
Grasshopper final, I had a game plan, and I couldn’t wait to try it on
court. I think I was unlucky in the first game, I was playing well,
doing the right things, but I was not sharp enough.
"In the second, I was doing all the right things, then I’m not sure what
went first, the mind or the body. I never gave up, kept fighting in the
3rd, but he was too confident by then."
No.2 Gregory Gaultier and World No.8 Ali Farag will meet in the final of
a PSA World Tour event for the second tournament in succession after
they claimed respective wins over James Willstrop and Marwan ElShorbagy
on semi-finals day at the inaugural Pacific Market International
Bellevue Squash Classic.
Over $25,000 worth of prize money will be up for grabs in the final - a
record amount for a squash tournament containing a 16-man draw - and
Gaultier ensured that he will compete in a seventh successive Tour final
after he defeated Willstrop by an 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 margin.
Gaultier, the 34-year-old from France, lost his World No.1 ranking to
Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad earlier this month, but a win over Farag in
tomorrow’s final will see him reclaim top spot in next month’s World
“I'm happy with my performances throughout the tournament,” said
“It’s a big mental exercise for me to push through with almost no
recovery between tournaments because we have such a short time to go
home, we only have a couple of days before we go again.
“You get your head into competition mode again and it's really tough,
but that's what I train for and I spend all my time making sacrifices to
play at that level.”
meanwhile, made it back-to-back Tour finals for the third time in his
career after he came through in four games against World No.5 ElShorbagy.
ElShorbagy came into the match off the back of a big win over three-time
World Champion Ramy Ashour in the previous round and had beaten Farag in
their last meeting in the semi-final of February’s Windy City Open, but
Farag hit his lines well in a clinical display to take it 11-7, 11-4,
Gaultier and Farag met in the final of the Grasshopper Cup less than a
fortnight ago, with Gaultier winning 3-0 to lift a sixth Tour title in a
“Marwan had a great win yesterday against probably one of the best
players in the history of squash,” said 25-year-old Farag.
"I’m very happy with the way I played, but I just have to give him
credit for such a good tournament and such a good season. He’s such an
“I’m very happy to reach a second final back-to-back, it’s one thing to
be able to beat the top players, but to do it consistently is another
and I’m very happy to be there. Hopefully I can go a step further this
No.5 Marwan ElShorbagy claimed a huge victory over three-time World
Champion Ramy Ashour to move to within one win of claiming a final berth
at the inaugural Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash Classic,
PSA M100 tournament.
ElShorbagy’s only previous win against Ashour came during the 2016 El
Gouna International, but Ashour was unable to see the match out on that
occasion, retiring mid-way through through the second game.
The enigmatic Ashour was far from his best throughout the 39-minute
encounter, but a ruthless display from ElShorbagy made sure there was no
hope of a revival from the 29-year-old as he dispatched him by an 11-8,
12-10, 5-11, 11-6 margin at the Boys and Girls Club Hidden Valley Field
"I'm really happy with the win today, Ramy is a great player," said
"The only time I beat him, he couldn't finish the match because he got
injured. I'm really happy to win the match, but it was really hard for
me today. I watched Ramy so many times when I was growing up so to get
that first win against him means a lot to me.
"I've been working really hard, I've got to number five in the world and
a lot of things happen off the court. To be able to play my 14th
tournament of the season and to stay on my feet and be healthy means a
lot to me."
is guaranteed to be an Egyptian finalist after World No.8 Ali Farag
defeated Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly in straight games to set up a
semi-final meeting with ElShorbagy - and the 25-year-old
Harvard-graduate is now just one win away from a second successive PSA
World Tour final.
On the other half of the draw, World No.2 Gregory Gaultier made it 25
matches unbeaten after he dismantled World No.10 Tarek Momen by a 3-0
Gaultier has been simply irresistible in 2017, losing just once and
capturing five Tour titles in a row, and he took an 11-8, 11-4, 11-7
victory in 47 minutes to reach a ninth straight semi-final.
always try to find an extra motivation because it's the end of the
season and I agreed to play this tournament, so I know I'm going beyond
my limits," said Gaultier.
"But every day I have to keep pushing until the end, the end of the
season is really close, so I want to finish on a positive note and carry
on playing as hard as I can. Me and Tarek have had a lot of games and
it's always tough to play him because he's always unpredictable with his
boasts, but sometimes he gives you cheap points which I'm happy with.
"I knew that if I gave him some openings that he would put them away, so
I had to be really sharp to the front corners and defend with
The Frenchman will be up against former World No.1 James Willstrop - who
he lost to in December’s AJ Bell British Grand Prix semi-finals - after
Willstrop recovered from three match balls down to defeat Spain’s Borja
Willstrop squandered a two-game lead to let Golan back into the match
and Golan looked to be odds on to take the win after holding three match
balls in a nail-biting decider. But the Yorkshireman dug deep to force a
tie-break and held his nerve to close out a dramatic match by an 11-6,
11-7, 2-11, 6-11, 12-10 scoreline.
"I was so out-played in the fourth and the fifth so I was just happy to
be in the fifth," said Willstrop.
"It was a weird match, totally weird. I'll take it though, I'm really
happy and it's great to be playing in the semis now. It's fantastic."
World Champion Ramy Ashour marked his return from a two-month injury lay
off with a 3-0 victory over Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller to reach the
quarter-final stage of the Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash
Classic, PSA M100 tournament.
The enigmatic 29-year-old has been out of action with a hamstring strain
sustained during his Allam British Open semi-final fixture in March, but
he recovered from a slow start to beat Mueller 11-8, 11-7, 11-8 in 32
minutes, despite struggling with illness before the match.
“I just wanted to play well, he's very quick with his hands, so I was
trying to contain him,” Ashour said.
“It worked sometimes, sometimes it didn't, but it went my way in the end
and I'm glad it did. I remember last time we played in Switzerland, it
was one of the toughest times. It was in five [games], it was a full
house and it was an electrifying atmosphere.
“I had that in the back of my head and that's why I was prepared. I had
some complications earlier, but I was prepared. Other than that, I'm
excited to be back in Bellevue."
will clash with World No.5 Marwan ElShorbagy in an all-Egyptian
quarter-final fixture after ElShorbagy overcame Malaysia’s Nafiizwan
Adnan by a 3-1 margin.
Both players played well in patches, with ElShorbagy prevailing on an
opening game tie-break, only to see Adnan fight back to restore parity
after the World No.26 triumphed in game two.
However, the momentum shifted back in ElShorbagy’s favour in the third
game as the Bristol-based 23-year-old began to reassert his control on
proceedings, eventually coming through to prevail 13-11, 7-11, 11-6,
“I’ve got a big match tomorrow against Ramy, he’s a great player, so I’m
looking forward to that match tomorrow," ElShorbagy said.
"I always enjoy going on court with Ramy, he’s a great ambassador for
our sport. It’s a shame that he keeps getting injured, but just having
him here is amazing for us.
“I’m really happy to go on court with him tomorrow, I’ll just try and
make the most of it. I’ve grown up watching him, so the fact that I will
be on court with him tomorrow is huge for me. I’m excited for the match
No.8 Ali Farag was the third Egyptian victor on day two at the Boys and
Girls Club Hidden Valley Field House courtesy of a comfortable win over
tournament wildcard Dylan Cunningham.
The pair – separated by 145 places in the World Rankings – were both
prolific players on the Collegiate Squash Association circuit prior to
their professional carers and traded points at the beginning of all
three games, before Harvard-graduate Farag’s class eventually told as he
took the win in straight games.
"I'm very happy to see lots of collegiate players turning pro, it shows
just how great our sport is," said Farag.
"We’ve all got good degrees that we could do a lot things with, but we
play this sport because of how great it is and hopefully that brings the
sport up a notch."
No.1 Ryan Cuskelly was the only non-Egyptian winner after the World
No.14 saw off South Africa’s Stephen Coppinger, recovering from a game
down to win 3-1 and set up a quarter-final meeting with Farag.
The Bellevue Classic has a $150,000 prize purse on offer - a record
amount for a 16-man main draw squash tournament - thanks to the efforts
of both title sponsor Pacific Market International and multinational
technology giants Microsoft.
former World No.5 Borja Golan was the only unseeded player to prevail on
the opening day of main draw action at the inaugural Pacific Market
International Bellevue Squash Classic after the 34-year-old defeated
England’s Daryl Selby to reach the last eight of the PSA M100
Held at the Boys and Girls Club Hidden Valley Field House, the Bellevue
Classic has a $150,000 prize purse on offer - a record amount for a
squash tournament containing a 16-man draw - after title sponsor Pacific
Market International was joined in the tournament's portfolio of
sponsors by multinational technology giants Microsoft.
And Golan ensured that he remains in with a shout of taking home the
winner’s share of over $25,000 after a dominant display saw him dispatch
Selby by an 11-7, 11-6, 11-7 margin.
“We've played many times since the juniors, Daryl is such a talented
player,” said Golan.
“Technically, he is unbelievable so it's really difficult to read his
shots. Today, I think the difference was that I was moving a bit better
than him, but he's still a dangerous player. I tried to be on my toes
all the time to win the points.
“When you are not injured you enjoy this game because we don't have many
more years to day so every tournament you manage to enjoy more than when
you were 20. You have to give 100 per cent and it's really nice to be in
that position to play your game.”
will take on former World No.1 James Willstrop in the next round after
the Yorkshireman triumphed in a thrilling five-game encounter with Hong
Kong’s Max Lee.
The pair went toe-to-toe in an enthralling 73-minute spectacle, with
Willstrop recovering from 9-7 down in the fifth game to reach the
quarter-final of a PSA World Tour event for the first time since
"I think the match was good quality, we both played well and both had
our phases where it didn't work out," said Willstrop.
"It was solid and he was the favourite at 9-7 [in the fifth], I was up
against it. I had to dig in and have faith in what I was doing. I'm very
pleased to come away with the win.
"I just had to keep it as simple as I could really, once you start
clouding your head with loads of thoughts it makes it worse. It’s not
very easy, but you've got to forget about the scoreboard as much as
French World No.2 Gregory Gaultier continued his incredible form after
beating former World No.3 Omar Mosaad in a repeat of the 2015 PSA Men’s
World Championship, which took place in Bellevue 18 months ago.
Gaultier - who also won their World Championship final clash -
overturned five game balls in the opener and dropped just three points
in the final two games as he romped to a 24th successive Tour victory.
“I expected a tough match, he is on his way back after having a bad
season,” said Gaultier.
“I told myself to push a little bit, to move forward more on the ‘T’
because I was too far back
too passive. That’s what I did, but with no rush and without trying to
inject too much pace. That worked in the end.”
Gaultier will line up against Momen in the quarter-finals after Momen
narrowly defeated French qualifier Gregoire Marche in five games.
Coverage from the second day of the Pacific Market International
Bellevue Squash Classic begins at 17:00 local time (PDT) and will be
shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe
World No.34 Nicolas Mueller came out on top of an entertaining five-game
battle with Mexico’s Cesar Salazar at the PRO Sports Club in Bellevue to
earn his place in the main draw of the inaugural Pacific Market
International Bellevue Squash Classic - where a $150,000 prize fund is
on offer in the most lucrative 16-man main draw squash tournament ever.
Mueller, 27, took former World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy all the way to
five games earlier this month at the Grasshopper Cup and the ‘Swiss
Rocket’ continued where he left off against Mexico’s Salazar to take a
Salazar, the World No.21, fought back in the next two games to level the
scores, but Mueller held his nerve in the decider to take an 11-2, 11-7,
3-11, 8-11, 11-7 victory which will see him clash with three-time World
Champion Ramy Ashour in round one of the main draw.
Mueller will be joined in the main draw by former World No.3 Omar Mosaad,
who prevailed in an all-Egyptian clash with Mazen Hesham.
whose fall to World No.32 has led to him playing in the qualifying
stages for the first time in eight years, took a 3-1 win to ensure that
he will face the in-form Gregory Gaultier next, with the Frenchman
currently boasting a 23-match unbeaten run.
Gaultier’s compatriot, Gregoire Marche, and Malaysia’s Nafiizwan Adnan
were also victorious on the final day of qualifying after they claimed
respective wins over Hong Kong’s Leo Au and Scotland’s Alan Clyne.
Marche will line up against World No.10 Tarek Momen in the opening
round, while Adnan will do battle with number two seed Marwan ElShorbagy.
The main draw of the Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash
Classic, PSA M100 tournament will take place at the Boys and Girls Club
Hidden Valley Field House between May 16-20 and will be shown live on
SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).