China Open 2016
Apparently a 3-0 victory in the finals over Gregory Gaultier of France convinced Elshorbagy that this will not be his final tournament in Shanghai, and will probably be coming back for the years to come. The French General Gregory Gaultier was having a bad day, and Elshorbagy’s domination of the T made his day even worse.
The first few points were quite close, looking like it could go in any players favor. But Elshorbagy managed to bring the momentum onto his side, and was pressuring Gaultier in all four corners of the court. Gaultier was trying every shot he could think of, whether it be flicks, drops, and even the occasional nick shot, there was nothing that Elshorbagy couldn’t get.
A trio of spectacular saves by Elshorbagy in the first swiftly demoralized an already frustrated Gaultier. At that point there was no more doubt on who would win the game. Elshorbagy showed no mercy and ended the game with a score of 11-5. Gaultier who was furious at many of the referee’s decisions, went into the second game without any spirit to play.
Elshorbagy took full advantage of that, and rarely allowed himself to get pressured by Gaultier. His unorthodox volleying style constantly pressured the Frenchman, who was constantly struggling to retrieve the ball. The game ended promptly 11-3 for Elshorbagy. Seeing himself pulling closer to the championship crown, Elshorbagy showed the crowd how a true champion plays like. Keeping his cool against an anxious Gaultier allowed Elshorbagy to clench the game 11-3, and at the end of it, the Egyptian gave a fist pump to show his excitement.
I was dying to finally get a chance to interview Elshorbagy, and I did. The Egyptian was ecstatic; and was unable to control his excitement, I mean, who could? I asked him what it felt like winning this tournament, and he gave me a hefty sum of answers:
“I’m just really happy, since I’m normally a slow starter for the season, and last season I didn’t start the way I wanted to. I’m really excited have played this match, these are the types of matches I live for, playing with the worlds top players in stages like these is what I’m really excited about.”
“Last week in Hong Kong I was quite disappointed I lost in the second round, but I felt I played well, it’s just I need to play more matches and really get myself warmed up for the season,” he was telling me about his season so far.
“I’m really happy I won today, since it’s my first title here, especially after last year which I lost in the first round, it’s such an honor to be holding the title here a year later,” he told me about his China Open experience.
He topped it all off by thanking the organizer’s and sponsors, “Franco and his team did such a wonderful job in organizing this event, and the Peninsula Hotel is absolutely amazing and made me feel welcome as soon as I arrived. I would also like to thank JP Morgan for sponsoring this event.”
Elshorbagy outplayed Gaultier today in an enjoyable match for the audience to watch, including Chinese Basketball star Yao Ming, who showed up live to watch the match.
And after that, the final awards ceremony officially ended the 2016 China Squash Open. Seeing two new champions who will be defending their crowns at next year’s championship.
Day FIVE - Semi-Finals
The French General Gregory Gaultier justified his nickname on the court today when he beat Karim Abdel Gawad of Egypt in three straight games, forcing Gawad to retire in the third.
Gaultier seems to be playing better and better every day. Despite how skillful Gawad is on the court, there was nothing that Gaultier couldn’t handle. Gaultier was playing extremely tight and pressuring shots, forcing Gawad to hit a loose ball for Gaultier to again repeat the cycle.
The French General won the first two games 11-6, and an affable atmosphere on the court helped liven up the mood for the crowd. Gaultier started the third game by hitting two straight nick shots, destroying the spirit of Gawad. Gawad had managed to twist Gaultier and make him struggle for shots every time he had enough time. At 5-2 an unfortunate injury that Gawad sustained forced him to retire from the match, giving Gaultier a 3-0 victory over the second Egyptian he beat this tournament.
Will the General manage to continue his streak in the finals against world number one Mohamed Elshorbagy of Egypt? We’ll see.
Day FOUR - Quarter-Finals
Gregory Gaultier of France really shined when playing against Tarek Momen of Egypt today.
Gaultier had won the match 3-0, but not without Momen putting up a fight in the last game. The first two games Gaultier dominated the court. Momen was constantly trapped in the corners, hitting loose shots that allowed Gaultier to further pressure him until he made a mistake.
Gaultier took the first games 11-3 and 11-5. At the beginning of the third game, Gaultier made three unforced errors in a row, resulting to him being down 5-1. Both players were playing spectacularly, making few mistakes and hitting accurate shots. The rallies were exchanged back and forth, and eventually it wound up having Momen lead 10-7.
At that point, the game started to get very quarrelsome. Both players were extremely aggressive towards each other and the ball, and put up an interesting show for the audience to watch. It didn’t seem like there was a clear winner until Gaultier had managed to take the lead at 13-12,
“I was keeping my cool and waiting for my opponent (Momen) to make a mistake”, according to Gaultier. A crucial unforced error by Momen ended the match in a 3-0 victory for Gaultier, with the final score being 14-12.
I asked Gaultier how he felt during and after the game, he told me “I felt I got more used to the court after yesterday. I started becoming more comfortable with the balls I was hitting early on and felt I had a lot of control during the rallies. I was just waiting for my opponent to make a mistake so I can attack the ball”.
Day THREE - Round One
Gregory Gaultier of France had also managed to triumph over Diego Elias of Peru in three games. The Peruvian did not look like he was playing at his best, and Gaultier took advantage of that. The first game Gaultier played it slow, and in the last two games he stepped up the pace and looked like he had full control over the rallies.