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23 Jul 2024

Gilis & Gawad Grab Final Slots At Manchester Open

21 May 2023

Seeded only to make the last eight of the PSA World Tour Silver event, Belgium's world No.10 Nele Gilis and Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad, the world No.12, booked their places in the finals of the Manchester Open after impressive semi-final victories at the National Squash Centre.

Gilis, a semi-finalist last year, reached her first PSA Silver event final after overcoming Japan's giant killer Satomi Watanabe in four games. The No.7 seed started the match in confident fashion, narrowing the angles of Watanabe and trying her best to keep the Japanese No.1 pinned behind her as often as possible. Gilis did this superbly in the opening two games to take a convincing 2/0 lead winning both games 11-5.

Despite Watanabe finding an extra gear in the third game to take it 11-8, it was not enough to stop the Belgian reaching her fourth final of the season as she bids to claim a fourth win.

"It feels amazing! I am so happy. Last year, I just missed out on a spot in the finals, so I am very happy to come back this year and make it through to the final!" Gilis said.

"She came out firing in every single game. I thought I started a bit passive, and then I tried to diffuse her, but it is a fine line between not playing too slow. I found my groove again when I was down 5-0 in every game or whatever it was. I am happy that I was able to fight back in each.

"I just feel like I am really enjoying squash at the moment. I am learning something from every event, improving after every event, so I just want to keep it going. I tried to tell myself to imagine I was playing a top 10 player, because she is top 10 standard. If you are the favourite, there are some nerves because you are supposed to win. I try not to think about it, but at the end of the day, they always come out during the match."

Gilis' opponent will be No.3 seed Nour El Tayeb, who also needed four games to end all home hopes, beating Georgina Kennedy in 45 minutes.

Kennedy took the opening game 11-7 and looked strong in all areas of the court as she dominated the middle and confidently converted game one.

El Tayeb possesses such class at the front of the court and started to find angles in which to hurt Kennedy. The Egyptian No.4 utilised her deception and hold to gain control of the Englishwoman's movement and made life extremely difficult for Kennedy. After equalising at one-all, El Tayeb didn't slow down as she motored through the next two games, winning 11-3, 11-7 to seal her place in the final for the second time in Manchester.

In the men's draw, a repeat of the recent PSA World Championships final will take place as Egyptian duo Ali Farag and Karim Abdel Gawad defeated Joel Makin and second seed Tarek Momen in challenging last four encounters.

The all-Egyptian battle between Gawad and Momen was up first, with both players determined not to give an inch away to one another as they battled for the 'T' in every rally. Gawad scored a nail-biting first game 13-11 before producing quality squash at the front of the court yet again to double his lead and place one foot in the final.

Momen continued to fire the ball in short but despite taking the third game 11-6, wasn't able to stop the momentum of the 2016 World Champion as Gawad again moved ahead in the latter stages of the fourth game to narrowly close it out 11-9.

Reigning World Champion Farag closed out day four in Manchester with a 64-minute victory over Wales' Joel Makin to move into a third successive final on the PSA World Tour.

Defending champion, Makin, took the opening game against Farag 11-7 by hitting crisp, straight length into the back two corners to restrict the Egyptian's opportunity to attack. Makin stuck to his game plan expertly and set himself up with three game balls for a crucial 2/0 lead, but back came Farag. The 31-year-old let his arm go and ran through to take the next five points and steal the game 12-10 to draw level.

Farag looked to shift in mentality from this point and then started to read Makin in all areas of the court and heap the pressure onto the Welshman. The World Champion took game three 11-6 and converted at the second time of asking in the fourth game to move into his first final in Manchester and his fifth final of the season.