1:33 pm
23 Jan 2019

Egypt's Gawad Shocks Elshorbagy to Reach Black Ball Semis

8 Dec 2018

Egypt's former world No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad produced the shock of the tournament when he downed current world No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy to reach the semi-finals of the CIB Black Ball Open, the final PSA Platinum tournament of the year, in Cairo.

The Black Ball Open is the first major tournament to take place in Egypt's capital since the men's 2016 PSA World Championship and Gawad produced a sensational performance in front of his home crowd to reach his first semi-finals at a Platinum PSA tournament since 2017.

The world No.9 played some exquisite squash in the first game, showing his quality with pinpoint accuracy to put the reigning World Champion in serious trouble. Elshorbagy then tried to up the pace to disrupt his opponent - but Gawad was too strong, taking the match by an 11-4, 11-9, 12-10 scoreline in 57 minutes.

"Mohamed is No.1 in the world and is the most consistent player in my generation," said Gawad following his huge win. "He has been winning all of the tournaments in a row, so to win 3/0 against a tough player like him is unbelievable.

"I just had to be very strong mentally today and push until the last point in the match. This win means so much for me. I wanted that win so badly, I wanted to reach the semis to improve my ranking, but more than everything else, I wanted to prove to my coaches that the hard work we have done in the summer is finally paying off."

Gawad will now face compatriot Tarek Momen for a place in the final after the world No.4 defeated world No.10 Mohamed Abouelghar in a high-quality battle.

Cairo-born Momen took the first game, before Abouelghar made life difficult for his opponent in the second to draw level with some exceptional squash on display from both players. However, the class of Momen - which has seen him enjoy his strongest year to date on the PSA Tour - shone through in the end to prevail an 11-9, 7-11, 11-9, 11-5 winner and reach his fourth successive semi-final this season.

"I have to say I was surprised by the level of squash we both produced tonight," said 30-year-old Momen afterwards. "I think that's probably the highest quality we have ever produced against each other.

"Karim is going to be a tough match for sure. He's played ridiculously well today. I'm going to try and push myself to the limit because I want to reach the final."

Elsewhere at the Black Ball Sporting Club, New Zealand's world No.7 Paul Coll enjoyed a big win over Germany's world No.3 Simon Rösner to reach his second semi-final at a PSA Platinum event.

Coll was slow out of the blocks, as Rösner - who endured a tough five-game battle yesterday with France's Gregoire Marche - took the first game. However, the momentum completely shifted in the second as the Kiwi mounted an impressive comeback to level the scores, before going on to take the win by a 5-11, 11-3, 11-7, 11-3 victory in 54 minutes.

"I'm just really happy that I could mentally fight through that," said the New Zealander. "I didn't feel comfortable out there and my length was patchy in the first. He's had a great season and a long season, so I'm just happy that I could come off today as the winner."

Coll will now face Egypt's world No.2 Ali Farag in the semi-finals after he defeated India's world No.12 Saurav Ghosal in straight games.

The Egyptian proved too much to handle for Ghosal as he powered to an 11-6, 11-9, 11-3 victory much to the delight of a packed-out home crowd.

"I'm really happy with the way I played today," said world No.2 Farag. "We don't get to play in front of a crowd like this often, so I want to make the most of it. It's really a pleasure to play in front of them, so I hope that I can keep progressing into the later rounds of the tournament."