Karim Abdel Gawad Claims 25th Tour Title At Optasia Championship
27 Mar 2023
Egypt's Karim Abdel Gawad captured the 25th PSA World Tour title of his career - but the first since March last year - when he won the Optasia Championship in London, beating compatriot and world No.12 Youssef Soliman in a straight-games final at The Wimbledon Club.
The 2016 World Champion and former world No.1 was competing in just his third tournament since returning to the our after recovering from a foot injury, but showed no signs of struggle as he settled into a devastating rhythm early on in the PSA World Tour Gold event final.
In typical Gawad style, the unseeded Egyptian - currently ranked 38 in the world - started to attack the front corners immediately, to test the movement of Soliman and ask questions of his compatriot after a tough week of squash for the world No.12. The 31-year-old's severe drop shots and kills were proving hard for Soliman to cope with as Gawad took the opening two games in no time at all to place on hand on the trophy.
Soliman's resistance was fading in the third game as the pressure from Gawad was unrelenting. The 26-year-old was being forced into the front corners time and time again and despite his powerful and smooth movement, he wasn't able to negate the skill of Gawad. Seven championships balls presented themselves for Gawad, who only needed one to secure the Gold event title - a first title since March 2022.
"A year ago I didn't have a chance to be on court, I didn't think I'd be on court again," said Gawad after the win.
"My only wish was to take every advantage I could, train as hard as I could and play every tournament I could. I learnt a lot from my injury, I'm really happy and grateful to have another chance to be on court in front of an amazing crowd and doing what I love the most in my life.
"It is a great pleasure to be on a court that all the legends have been on, thanks to the promoter, all the sponsors, all the crowd that came to watch. Without all these things, the tournament wouldn't be able to happen so I'm looking forward to coming back and playing again.
"I was so down, I was very depressed. I lost 7kg of muscle. I want to thank my wife for taking care of me, my coaches, my physio, my mental coach, everyone. It was a hard time, luckily I'm back on court and enjoying every moment here and looking forward to the next one."
PSA World Tour action heads to Birmingham next for one of the most prestigious events on the calendar, the 2023 British Open. Action starts on April 9th from The Edgbaston Priory Club with 96 players looking to etch their names on the trophy come the end of the tournament.