Gawad & Farag Set Up Dream All-Egyptian Black Ball Climax
9 Dec 2018
World No.2 Ali Farag and world No.9 Karim Abdel Gawad will meet in a dream all-Egyptian CIB Black Ball Open final after defeating New Zealand's Paul Coll and Egypt's Tarek Momen, respectively, in the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour Platinum event in the country's capital Cairo.
Farag defeated world No.7 Coll in straight games to reach the final to give himself the chance to replace Mohamed Elshorbagy - who crashed out in the quarter-finals - at the top of the World Rankings if he beats Gawad.
Cairo-born-and-based Farag never allowed Coll - enjoying his second semi-final at a PSA Platinum event - to settle into any kind of rhythm or consistency as he dominated from the outset in front of a packed and partisan home crowd to take a comfortable two game lead.
The Kiwi refused to go down without a fight, however, and produced a dogged performance in the third to push Farag all the way to a tie-break before the world No.2 converted to claim an 11-4, 11-4, 13-11 victory and book his place in his fifth PSA final of the season.
"I think it has to do with the crowd here," said Farag afterwards. "They pushed me in every single point. Paul came back strong at 10-7 match ball - I was looking in the eyes of Nour [El Tayeb] and my parents and they gave me the courage to keep going.
"It's obviously a dream for everyone to become world No.1, but if you keep thinking about the results and the rankings then it's only going to hold me back. You want to take it one step at a time and you don't want to get too ahead of yourself."
Farag will now face compatriot Gawad for the title after the seventh seed put in another strong performance to overcome world No.4 Tarek Momen in a thrilling 90-minute battle.
The recently-crowned Pakistan Open champion enjoyed a huge win over current world No.1 Elshorbagy in the last round and was able to back that up with another upset to reach the final of a PSA Platinum event for the first time since the 2017 El Gouna International.
27-year-old Gawad took the opening game before intelligent play from Momen saw the 30-year-old draw level. However, former World Champion Gawad continued to dig in deep and fight for every point to take a 2/1 lead, before the fourth game saw a very tight affair with high quality squash from both players before Gawad clinched an 12-10, 6-11, 11-9, 15-13 victory.
"This is my third tournament in a row and I didn't have a rest in between, so of course I'm really happy with my performances here and I'm really happy that I can stand on my feet and play until the last point here.
"When I woke up this morning, I was very happy about what happened yesterday. But I learned my lesson when I became world No.1 in El Gouna, and the next day, I just wouldn't play. So, I made sure I was focusing on today's match.
"Since the start of the season I'm only losing to Ali Farag, so he's a very tough player. Hopefully tomorrow we can perform and play a very good match. I'm feeling great on court and I'm just enjoying my squash these days."