Egypt’s Raneem El Welily and France’s Gregory Gaultier are the 2017 Guggenheim Partners & Equitrust Windy City Open champions, while tournament director John Flanigan revealed world record prize money of $500,000 is slated for the 2018 tournament Wednesday night at the University Club of Chicago.
The women’s final opened proceedings in what was a rematch of the 2016 final between world No. 1 Nour El Sherbini and two-time defending champion El Welily. El Sherbini started on the front foot edging the first game 12-10, but from the second game on it was all El Welily. The world No. 3 and former world No. 1 fired her way to a forty-two-minute victory, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7, 11-7.
“She played really well in the first game and I wasn’t sharp enough,” El Welily said. “Half way through the first game I started to find my spots and my angles. Even though I lost that first game, I knew that I was on my way to find the right plan. I’m really happy to win today, it’s fantastic.”
Twenty-eight-year-old El Welily has now appeared in the last four Windy City Open finals and won three consecutive World Series titles in the country’s third most populous city.
“Chicago is my lucky city and I’m always happy to be here,” El Welily said.
The men’s final followed on with world No. 5 Marwan Elshorbagy making his World Series final debut, and world No. 3 Gaultier in search of his second Windy City title in his fifth career final appearance.
Elshorbagy took the lead with an 11-5 first game, but Gaultier turned the match on its head to win 5-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-4 in fifty-one minutes.
“I am really happy—it’s amazing to win these kind of major titles so it will be nice to see my name on this beautiful trophy once again,” said Gaultier, who also won here in 2014. “It is a lovely place to play and I have been coming here for a long time. I have a lot of friends here and have always enjoyed coming back.”
Gaultier had spent less time on court than Elshorbagy leading into the final, with the Egptian’s route to the final including a five-game upset over his older brother and world No. 1, Mohamed, in the quarterfinals.
“Today he caused me a lot of trouble in the first game,” Gaultier said. “He has got a lot of confidence from this week winning some big matches, especially from beating his brother. He proved this week that he is a top player—he came through five tough matches to reach this stage which was a tougher week than me. I had to find a solution and to put more pace into it and get in control because when I was playing at his rhythm he was just a better player than me.”
The thirty-four year old marks his thirty-sixth-career PSA Tour title.
Leading off the trophy presentation, Flanigan announced that the thirty-seventh Windy City Open will offer $500,000 total prize money, making it the highest prize money of any PSA Tour World Series event in history.
In addition to the prize money increase, Flanigan revealed Chicago is bidding to host the 2018 PSA World Championships.