4:46 am
25 Apr 2017

Elshorbagy & Gawad to Contest Qatar Classic Final

18 Nov 2016

Defending champion Mohamed Elshorbagy, the world No.1, will face World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad in the all-Egyptian final of the 2016 Qatar Classic after both players overcame English opposition on the fifth day of action in the third PSA World Series event of the season at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in Doha.

Elshorbagy went up against England No.1 Nick Matthew in the latest chapter of their epic rivalry, with their previous match seeing Elshorbagy overturn a two-game deficit to win in October's US Open final. Much like in Philadelphia, the Egyptian found himself on the receiving end of a Matthew master class in the opening two games as the three-time World Champion limited Elshorbagy's ferocious hitting to great effect.

But Elshorbagy overturned a 9-7 deficit to win the third game, which sparked a storming comeback from the Egyptian - who outplayed the Englishman in the fourth and ground out a tense win in the decider to claim an 8-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-9 victory to reach a second successive World Series final.

"I think we were both up and down in our level in this tournament, but this is the 20th time we've played each other in our career," said Elshorbagy.

"For me tonight, I think that was my best performance of the whole season. The way I fought back and the way we played, I think we had a go at each other, but we played the game in the right spirit.

"I think we played a great match, it was a great battle. Thanks to him for having a great match and I'm sure we're going to have other great battles again in the future."

Gawad, meanwhile, will also appear at a second World Series final of the season after defeating England No.3 Daryl Selby by a 3/1 margin.

The world No.3 - who won the sport's biggest prize, the PSA Men's World Championship, a fortnight ago - also reached the final of the Hong Kong Open in August. Gawad overcame a strong start from Selby in Doha to take the match in four.

Gawad and Elshorbagy last met in the semi-final stage of the World Championship, with Gawad winning in five to seal a first ever win over his compatriot.

"Everyone is under pressure, that's just part of the sport," said Gawad.

"Everyone hides it their own way, but inside I feel so much pressure. It's part of our game so I have to deal with it.

"It's always tough to play Elshorbagy, and to play him twice in two weeks is even tougher. Tomorrow, I'm expecting a very tough match. I'm looking forward to my first final in Qatar."

The pair's final encounter with have extra significance on the 2016/17 PSA Road to Dubai standings, with Elshorbagy situated in first place with 115 points, while Gawad sits just 10 points behind him in second.

A win for either player would go a long way to boosting their qualification chances for the lucrative season-ending Dubai PSA World Series Finals - where only the top eight qualifiers will claim a coveted berth.

Qatar Classic image courtesy of www.squashpics.com