Gawad Clinches New World No1 Ranking
14 Apr 2017
Victory over compatriot Fares Dessouky in the semi-finals of the El Gouna International Open ensures that Egypt's Karim Abdel Gawad will become world No.1 for the first time in next month's PSA World Rankings. In the final of the last PSA World Series event of the season in the Red Sea resort of El Gouna, the reigning World Champion faces the man he will dethrone, Frenchman Gregory Gaultier.
Gawad, who started the season ranked eight in the world, has been in sensational form over the past eight months, lifting the World Championship, Qatar Classic and Tournament of Champions titles to surge up the rankings.
The Alexandria-born 25-year-old required just a quarter-final finish at last month's British Open to take top spot - but lost to compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar in the round before. He held his nerve, however, on the banks of Egypt's Red Sea to recover from a game down against world No.9 Dessouky - beating the 22-year-old 7-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-8 to guarantee his place as the fifth Egyptian to top the World Rankings.
"Today is extra special for me, reaching the finals here in El Gouna in front of this amazing crowd is a great pleasure for me," said Gawad.
"It makes me very happy. I didn't want to think about it [the battle for World No.1] because I've been thinking about it a bit in the last two tournaments and it affected my way of playing so much.
"Today I just wanted to go on court, do my best and reach the finals here in El Gouna. Winning today is a great feeling. Tomorrow is another day, I have to keep my focus and I have to concentrate as much as I can."
Meanwhile, reigning world No.1 Gaultier extended his career-best unbeaten run to 18 matches with a straight games win over Egypt's world No.5 Marwan Elshorbagy - taking the 34-year-old into a fifth successive PSA World Tour final.
Gaultier's incredible form has seen him lose just one match in 2017, with wins at the Swedish Open, Windy City Open and British Open over the past few months ensuring that he became the oldest world No.1 of all time in the April PSA Men's World Rankings.
And he will compete for a third straight World Series title after the 12-10, 11-4, 11-4 victory which saw him through to the final against Gawad - the last man to defeat the rampant Frenchman in January's Tournament of Champions final.
"I've been world No.1 before, for me it's just a pleasure to be there and I'm not over the moon like the first time I became world No.1," said Gaultier, now in the 77th Tour final of his career.
"If you win, you deserve to be there, and if you lose then you deserve to go down in the rankings - that's how it works.
"All I care about is having a good time and having fun on the court, that is why I keep playing. The day I feel irritated or frustrated that I have to go back to training or if I don't take pleasure on the court then I will stop. I'm still hungry, I still want to win more titles and I still have something left in the tank to do good things before I put the racket into my wardrobe."