Karim Claims Squash's Richest Prize In Saudi
20 Dec 2008
Karim Darwish rounded off the best year of his career by far when he beat Gregory Gaultier in the final of the Saudi International to win the $250,000 PSA Tour Super Series Platinum championship - the richest tournament in the history of squash - in the Saudi city of Al-Khobar.
It was the pair's fifth Tour meeting of the year. But, after losing in straight games in last month's final of the Macau Open, Darwish avenged his defeat in stunning style - maintaining the fine form he had shown all week to beat the second-seeded Frenchman 11-9, 11-5, 3-11, 11-8 in 52 minutes.
The victory - which brought the full house in Al-Khobar to an incredible crescendo - not only earns the Egyptian the biggest ever winner's cheque, of $37,400, but will also take the 27-year-old from Cairo to the top of the PSA world rankings next month.
"This is the greatest moment of my career," Darwish told the official website www.atcosquash.com later. "I've been working really hard all my life to reach this moment - thank god I should do it in this, the richest tournament ever, and in front of a crowd like this.
"The crowd were unbelievable in their support. I was almost in tears even before we went on - the way they were chanting my name and making so much noise!
"I was a bit up and down in the first but I managed to come back and win it at the end. I had to refocus and come out stronger for the second. I couldn't afford to give him anything loose, especially on a cool court. I had to play deep to the back.
"It's a fantastic moment for me, such a great feeling. Thanks to my family who have been supporting me all my life, my mum and dad, my brother and now my wife (fellow Egyptian international Engy Kheirallah), and to my coach Amir Wagih."
Gaultier was magnanimous in praise of his opponent: "Congratulations to Karim, on reaching number one and for the match today. It was a tough game but he's a worthy winner.
"Thanks to everyone who supported me this week - I know you weren't supporting me today but I still enjoyed playing in front of such a big and noisy crowd!"