Gawad & Gaultier Secure Semi Slots As Swedish Open Stung By Withdrawals
4 Feb 2017
Title-holder Karim Abdel Gawad and world No.3 Gregory Gaultier secured their anticipated places in the semi-finals of the 2017 UCS Swedish Open on the day that two of the scheduled matches in the established PSA M70 event in Linköping were lost to withdrawals.
Injuries to both England's Daryl Selby (ankle) and Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet (calf) earlier on in the day saw them pull out of their respective quarter-final fixtures with Germany's Simon Rösner and Scotland's Alan Clyne - both of whom received walkovers to reach the last four.
Gawad contested a 99-minute thriller with Australian Cameron Pilley that saw the World Champion from Egypt - bidding for a fourth straight PSA World Tour title - go 2/1 up and reach match ball in the fourth game being forced off court after a sustaining a head injury during a seemingly innocuous clash with Pilley at the front of the court.
After world No.2 Gawad returned, Pilley managed to save two further match balls to level the scores, before the in-form Egyptian finally managed to shake off his tenacious opponent to wrap up an 11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 12-14, 11-6 victory - reaching the last four for the second successive year where he will take on Clyne.
"I went to the ball really quickly, he was going away from the ball really quickly, so it was normal interference," said Gawad about his injury.
"Unfortunately, my head hit his back. I was okay, then I walked back and it was very blurry and I couldn't see very well. I was a little bit dizzy, so I couldn't stand on my legs.
"But after five or six minutes I was feeling good, I was walking well and seeing well so I went back on court. Sometimes it happens and all you can do is try to regroup and play a normal game. It doesn't matter if you're 2/1 up and match ball up. It's just one game, so in the fifth game you go on and you play like it's the first game."
Gaultier, meanwhile, battled back from two games down to defeat Egyptian opposition for the second tournament in a row.
The 'French General', who fell to the same deficit against Fares Dessouky at last month's Tournament of Champions before coming back to win, was outfought and outclassed in the early stages as an attacking masterclass from Tarek Momen saw the Egyptian surge into a two-game lead.
However, Gaultier recovered from his sluggish start to force Momen in an all-out battle for supremacy, with the 34-year-old's abundance of experience shining through as he claimed a hard-fought 3-11, 7-11, 11-5, 13-11, 11-2 victory - saving a match-ball in the fourth - to set up a semi-final meeting with Rösner.
"I wasn't there today, I was really struggling and I couldn't see the ball," said Gaultier.
"I was playing the wrong shots, everything was loose. I had to be patient and play the ball into the two back corners until something happened. That paid off at the end.
"In the fifth game I was playing point by point, I wasn't thinking too far ahead, I was just focusing on each shot. As long as your head is still there, you keep fighting to the last point."
Swedish Open image courtesy of www.squashpics.com