Marwan Elshorbagy was forced to call on all his experience and skill as a top ten player on the PSA World Tour to see off a spirited challenge from Hong Kong’s Leo Au in the first round of the 2016 Windy City Open in the University Club of Chicago today.
Au survived a dramatic 78-minute battle with compatriot Tsz Fung Yip to reach the main draw and was odds on to exit swiftly at the hands of Colombia Open semi-finalist Elshorbagy, but the World No.26 played with stoic determination as he twice came from a game down courtesy of tie-break wins to force a fifth.
It was Elshorbagy who began brightly as he took the opening game and a commanding early 8-3 lead in the second before Au surged back into proceedings, saving three game balls and taking the game 13-11 to level the match 1-1.
After going behind 2-1 Au again mounted a huge resurgence in the fourth, managing to save two match balls as he again levelled the match, this time 2-2, to force the decider where he matched Elshorbagy point for point to 9-9. A sublime winner from Elshorbagy gave him the edge which he capitalised on to sneak home 11-9 and into the second round.
“I was happy with the way I played in the first game and a half, up to 8-3 in the second but I didn’t expect him to play that well and he surprised me,” said Elshorbagy.
“I’m disappointed with the way I lost the second, there was a loss of concentration for sure but I’m very happy with the way I came back from there and there is still a lot to learn from this match.
“I should have won this game 3-0 but his front of the court shots were superb today plus his defensive game was really good – he kept digging in and he stopped me from playing my game.”
Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [Q] Leo Au (HKG) 3-2: 11-7, 11-13, 11-4, 11-13, 11-9 (74m)