Karim Abdel Gawad meets long-time rival Mohamed ElShorbagy in decider
By SEAN REUTHE in San Francisco
World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad will take on compatriot Mohamed ElShorbagy in the final of the 2017 Men’s Oracle NetSuite Open, PSA M100 tournament after he launched a superb comeback from two games down to beat Peru’s World No.17 Diego Elias in San Francisco.
Elias had beaten World No.4 Matthew in the previous round and continued where he left off against the Englishman in the first two games as he outplayed Gawad with some sublime winners paired with a composed and mature game plan that belied his 20 years of age.
However, Gawad grew into the match as time wore on, with his relentless pressure ultimately paying off as Elias’s energy levels dipped and he came back to win three games without reply to take it 6-11, 4-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-9 in 90 minutes.
“It’s always good to play an Egyptian in the final,” said Gawad. “Me and Mohamed are almost the same age, he’s only six months older, and we’ve always been competing since we were 7 years old.
“It’s very tough playing him and we always have a huge battle. Hopefully we’ll have a great match and have enough in the tank for tomorrow.”
ElShorbagy will appear in a second successive PSA World Tour final after he overcame last year’s runner-up James Willstrop, also in a five-game thriller.
Willstrop had fought back from a game down and 10-4 down in the second to go 2-1 ahead but ElShorbagy – who won the PSA Dubai World Series Finals on his last Tour outing – came back at him in the fourth to set up a nail-biting decider.
Both players had match balls as the clash headed into a tie-break but it was the man from Egypt who held his nerve to take it 11-2, 11-13, 8-11, 11-6, 14-12.
“I was thinking I should have been 2-0 up and then suddenly I’m 2-1 down in the semi-finals against someone like James, it was such a huge challenge for me to stay positive and remove any kind of negative thoughts,” said ElShorbagy.
“I’m really proud with how I came back, it was never easy, and even in the fifth game, to be 10-8 up and then finding myself 11-10 down after having two match balls, it was challenge after challenge.
“James was playing so well today and once he won that second game and got his confidence, he was like a train. There were times when I couldn’t stop him. I had to keep fighting and that’s what I do best.”
Malaysia’s eight-time World Champion Nicol David will play England’s Sarah-Jane Perry in the women’s final after a ruthless display from the World No.5 saw her ease past India’s Pallikal Karthik in just 22 minutes.
David had recovered from match ball down to beat Victoria Lust in the previous round, but she was in charge of proceedings right from the off as she glided around court and gave Pallikal Karthik no chance to launch any kind of attack, with the World No.21 failing to even amass a point in the second game.
Pallikal Karthik found her range more in the third but couldn’t do anything to break David’s spell as the former World No.1 powered to an 11-3, 11-0, 11-5 victory that will see her clash with Perry, who knocked out top seed and defending champion Laura Massaro in yesterday’s semi-final.
“I’m just so pleased to get into the finals here in San Francisco,” David said. “It’s my first time in the final here, so it will be very exciting for me to play in front of a great crowd. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and I’m really going to give it a good go.
“Whoever is in the final is going to be a contender and I’m up for the battle.”
Live coverage from the final of the Oracle NetSuite Open begins from 19:30 local time (PDT) on Saturday September 30 and all of the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
2017 Oracle NetSuite Open, San Francisco, USA.
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  James Willstrop (ENG) 3-2: 11-2, 11-13, 8-11, 11-6, 14-12 (70m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Diego Elias (PER) 3-2: 6-11, 4-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-9 (90m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Women’s Semi-Finals (Bottom Half):
 Nicol David (MAS) bt Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) 3-0: 11-3, 11-0, 11-5 (22m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v  Nicol David (MAS)
Pictures courtesy of PSA