The 2018 Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family and EquiTrust will become the most lucrative PSA World Series tournament next week when $500,000 will be split equally across both the men’s and women’s draws, February 22-28, at the University Club of Chicago.
The world’s top players are set to compete in the third and final World Series event held on U.S. soil this season in the University Club’s Cathedral Hall. The 2018 Windy City Open marks its fifth consecutive year as a World Series event and fourth consecutive year offering prize money parity.
“Becoming the most lucrative World Series tournament ever is a huge honour and is indicative of the Windy City Open’s status as one of squash’s premier events,” said Tournament Promoter John Flanigan. “We would like to thank our title sponsors—the Walter Family and the EquiTrust Life Insurance Company—for their support and look forward to welcoming the world’s greatest players back to the University Club of Chicago once again.”
Egypt’s reigning world champion Raneem El Welily enters the women’s draw as the two seed. The world No. 2 has won a record three consecutive women’s titles since 2015–the two most recent of which came against world No. 1 Nour El Sherbini, who leads the draw as the top seed.
Team USA has three representatives in the women’s draw. Amanda Sobhy continues her competitive return to the PSA Tour as the twelve seed, and will take on England’s Victoria Lust in the first round Friday, February 23 at 2pm local time, 3pm EST. World No. 13 Olivia Blatchford will take on a qualifier in the first round as the fourteen seed on Thursday, February 22, at 7pm local time, 8pm EST. A first round victory for Blatchford could set up a second round clash with El Sherbini. Harvard junior Sabrina Sobhy has been awarded the women’s wild card position and will take on England’s world No. 8 Sarah-Jane Perry Thursday, February 22, at 5pm local time, 6pm EST.
There will be a new men’s champion after France’s defending champion Gregory Gaultier was recently forced to withdraw due to injury. Egyptians occupy all four top seeds in the men’s draw. Reigning world champion and 2016 Windy City Open champion Mohamed ElShorbagy now leads the draw as the top seed following Gaultier’s withdrawal. U.S. Open champion Ali Farag opposes ElShorbagy in the draw as the two seed. 2016 world champion Karim Abdel Gawad enters as the three seed with ElShorbagy’s younger brother, Marwan, predicted to face Farag in the semifinals as the four seed.
For the fourth year in a row, U.S. champion Chris Hanson has been awarded the men’s wild card position as the lone American main draw representative. The Dartmouth graduate will take on England’s former world No. 1 James Willstrop in the first round Thursday, February 22, at 1pm local time, 2pm EST.
Thirty-two men’s and women’s qualifiers—including eight Americans—will vie for eight main draw positions in two rounds of qualifying, February 20-21. Qualifying draws will be released February 18.