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Raneem El Welily celebrates her Windy City Open semi-final win over Nouran Gohar

Windy City Open SFs: Majestic El Welily Sees off Gohar Threat

World No.1 Raneem El Welily has reached the final of the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family for a fifth time after a virtuoso performance from the Egyptian saw her overcome World No.2 Nouran Gohar in straight games at the University Club of Chicago.

El Welily had won seven of their last eight PSA World Tour meetings coming into the match – including a quarter-final victory at the CIB PSA Women’s World Championship back in October – and she continued her sublime run of form against her compatriot with an 11-5, 11-8, 11-9 victory inside the stunning Cathedral Hall.

The 31-year-old was so accurate as she kept the ball glued to the side walls, meaning Gohar couldn’t utilise her hard-hitting talents to inflict her usual game plan on the match.

El Welily won a one-sided opening game in just five minutes and she continued to control the tempo in the second, building up four game balls before a mini-resurgence brought Gohar back to within two points.

Gohar clawed her way back into contention after taking an 8-5 lead in the third. El Welily soon brought an end to her opponent’s revival though, lifting the ball and varying the pace well to counteract Gohar’s power, and she closed out the win to set up a title decider against either World Champion El Sherbini or World No.7 Sarah-Jane Perry.

“I don’t think I was one of those people who predicted this result,” said El Welily.

“I’m pleased to get through in three today, maybe not the best squash from both of us, but I’m pleased to have found a way to scrap the third one, especially. I was just trying to mix it, hit hard a little bit and thank god the ball wasn’t a flier today, otherwise I would have been completely screwed.

“I’m very proud to be part of such a great sport, I think we’re the first sport to have equal prize money for men and women. It doesn’t happen in any other sport as far as I know. Chicago has obviously been one of those tournaments which started things for us a few years ago.

“All thanks to Mr Mark Walter and the Walter Family for putting on such a great event year after year, for raising the bar higher each year and we’re blessed to be here in Chicago every year. It’s my all-time favourite place.”

[1] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt [3] Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-9 (31m)

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