Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 2-1  Ali Farag (EGY) 11-8, 4-11, 11-8 (57m)
Strange match. One thing is sure. If some players like to run the race in front, Karim doesn’t.
22m. 9m. 22m. First game was very long, nearly attritional squash really, well, up to 4/4 that is. Then, I had the impression to see Karim at his 2017 best, attacking relentlessly, putting Ali under extreme pressure. “With Ramy”, Mohamed Shorbagy told me “you never know what shot he is going to play. But with Karim, it’s not the shots, it’s the way he combines them”. That’s exactly what I felt today.
Karim takes the first game, 8/4, 10/5, 11/8. But in the second, he seems very tired, while Ali finds some beautiful winners, short rallies, 3/0, 10/3, 11/4 in 9m.
And to be honest, when Ali led 5/0 in the third, with Karim with a poor body language, we thought that for once, Karim was going to lose an event in Egypt, and in the first rounds… But next to me, Hania’s mum Nevine went “Karim is always dangerous”. And he was.
Out of nowhere, two errors from Ali, a huge rally that would never end, and we are back to 5/5. 7/7. 8/8. Another uncharacteristic error from Ali, 9/8. A winner from Karim, match ball. A tough call, and a video decision that end the match, no let against Ali. Once again, Karim, looking lost at sea, comes to shore to live another day…
“It was very tough to play Ali. It was a tough match, and a deciding match for me. To continue battling for a semi-final place or to be out of the tournament. It is tough, there is a lot of pressure, but I think I played very very under that pressure.
“We all have experience. I have been on tour for 12 years and I have been under pressure a lot. My parents always told me to just play your best and to ignore the pressure.
Winning or losing is all in your own hands, so that is a very good thing for parents to teach their kids. To never put pressure on yourself and to just play your best squash and never think about anything else than giving 100% on court.”