Gawad & Gaultier Set Up Swedish Open Showdown
4 Feb 2017
Defending champion Karim Abdel Gawad and two-time winner Gregory Gaultier will contest the final of the 2017 UCS Swedish Open after both claimed semi-final wins on the penultimate day of action in the PSA M70 event in Linköping.
Gawad - who triumphed over fellow Egyptian Tarek Momen in last year's final - went a game down to Alan Clyne in his last four clash after the unseeded Scot displayed some inch-perfect width and consistent hitting.
But world champion Gawad adapted his tactics to target Clyne's forehand side, and the change in approach paid dividends as he crashed a series of drives into the back right corner, before going in for the kill at the front. The world No.2 took the next three games without reply to seal a 10-12, 11-4, 11-8, 11-5 victory and keep alive his hopes of lifting a fourth straight PSA World Tour title.
"I didn't want to play a very long match today, I had a very tough one yesterday, so I wanted to keep as much energy for tomorrow's match in the final," said Gawad after his career-best unbeaten Tour run of 19 straight matches.
"I played Greg twice last month, once in an exhibition and once in ToC. Now we're playing in the Swedish Open for a third time, and it's tough to play him three times in 30 days.
"But I enjoyed playing him, I've had a lot of experience playing him before and now I'm competing with him. I got the last win, so hopefully tomorrow I can get another one."
Frenchman Gaultier - a winner here in 2012 and 2013 - earned his place in a fourth career Swedish Open final after he came out on top in an entertaining clash with German No.1 Simon Rösner.
It was a high-quality match from the off as both players exchanged points with gusto, with some delicate touches and physically demanding rallies captivating spectators at the Linköping Sporthall.
And it was Gaultier who held his nerve towards the end of all three games to edge the tall world No.10 by an 11-9, 13-11, 11-8 margin.
"I'm happy to be in another final, especially here," the Frenchman said.
"I've been here for so many years, since the first edition 16 years ago. I was a kid back then, 18-years-old, so I always try and play it. I've missed it once or twice because of injuries, but otherwise I always try to come here.
"For us, it's not too far away and it's good to motivate people from Europe to organise tournaments. That's why it's important for me to come here. People are always warm here, you feel really welcome and they do everything to make you feel comfortable."
Gawad and Gaultier last met in January's JP Morgan Tournament of Champions final in New York, where an absorbing contest ended in a 3/1 win to Gawad at the city's iconic Grand Central Terminal.
Swedish Open image courtesy of www.squashpics.com