7:23 am
16 Jul 2024

Gawad Ends 5-Year Streak To Conquer Coll In Major El Gouna Upset

25 Apr 2024

Recording his first win over the world No.2 in almost five years, Egypt's Karim Abdel Gawad upset New Zealander Paul Coll in straight games to claim an unexpected berth in the men's semi-finals of the El Gouna International Open in Egypt.

Meanwhile England's Georgina Kennedy defeated Egypt's Nour El Tayeb in an exciting five-game clash in the second day of quarter-final action in the PSA World Tour Platinum event and world No.2 Nouran Gohar and world No.4 Mostafa Asal both produced 3-0 wins to progress.

Gawad accrued a 6-3 lead in the match's opening phase with irretrievably well-placed shots, but Coll was able to bring his physicality into the game and rallied back to 7-7. The 2016 World Champion regained his early momentum and scored four consecutive points to take a 1/0 lead.

In an attritional 30-minute second game, Gawad again was the stronger starter as he pushed to a 7-3 lead, but 'Superman' again grew into the game and mounted a comeback, this time restoring parity at 8-8. The pair traded points in blockbuster rallies, but it was the 'Baby-Faced Assassin' who made it out on top at 15-13.

The Egyptian appeared composed in game three as his shots continued to find their targets which the New Zealander struggled to read and Gawad stormed ahead to win 11-4 and claim his place in the semi-final.

Gawad, who had lost five times to Coll since his most recent victory in the semi-finals of the Channel VAS Championship in England in November 2019, said: "Mentally I was ready. I knew that in order to beat Paul you have to be 100 percent ready mentally and physically and accept you're going to play a long, basic game with long rallies. And that's what I was doing today, since the very first point I just tried to play a solid game and when I get the chance to attack, take it.

"I did play an attacking game but the mistake I was doing last time was attacking too much and forcing it. He was taking a very good chance. Today I just wanted to play a good, solid basic game. It doesn't have to be just over the tin, I wanted to be as tight and patient. I didn't want to force anything today."

In a swift end to quarter-final proceedings, world No.4 Mostafa Asal dispatched Egyptian compatriot Aly Abou Eleinen in straight games, allowing the world No.13 just 11 points in the match as the No.4 seed recorded 11-2, 11-4, 11-5.

In the last women's match of the quarter-finals, Kennedy beat world No.5 El Tayeb in a five-game encounter to reach her third Platinum semi-final of the season.

The two physical players appeared evenly matched as the hot outdoor court at the El Gouna Conference and Culture Center assured long, tiring rallies. The Englishwoman and the Egyptian traded points to a tie-break, but Kennedy edged the first game.

The England No.1 struggled to manage the unpredictability of her opponent in the second game as the Egyptian dispatched Kennedy 11-3. As both struggled to assert dominance on the match, Kennedy retaliated in the third game and controlled the pace of play as she surged to an 11-5 win to reclaim the advantage in the match.

The two continued to jostle for control of the match, but El Tayeb regained her second-game ruthlessness and won game four 11-3. In an end to the see-saw encounter, Kennedy took early command of the decisive fifth game with a 5-0 lead. El Tayeb fought back, but found difficulty containing the Englishwoman as she pushed on to win the game 11-4 and claim victory in the 60-minute affair.

"Before, when I've played Nour she's made me open the court way too early and today I wanted to push her back as far as I could and still be positive," said Kennedy after the match.

"In a length game, I can't match her skills by any means so I really wanted to attack the back and take it in short when she was behind me. I can't read her from the front when she has time.

"I'm really happy with that. Besides the first game, scores weren't that close and once someone got off to a start it was really hard. I think I played a really good fifth. I could feel her drop off in some of the games but her class shone through."

Kennedy will face Egypt's world No.2 Nouran Gohar in the next round, after the defending champion took down USA's Olivia Weaver in three games. Though the American proved tricky for the world No.2 in spells, the Egyptian ultimately proved her quality to battle through tie-breaks in games two and three to claim victory in 58 minutes.