Gawad wins 90-minute Momen marathon
By ELLIE MAWSON in Cairo
Egypt’s World No.2 Ali Farag and World No.9 Karim Abdel Gawad will meet in the final of the CIB Black Ball Squash Open PSA Platinum event, after they defeated New Zealand’s Paul Coll and Egypt’s Tarek Momen in the semi-finals, respectively.
Farag defeated World No.7 Coll in straight games to reach the final and now has a chance to replace Mohamed ElShorbagy, who exited the tournament in the last round, at the top of the World Rankings to become the new World No.1 if he beats Gawad in the final tomorrow.
The Egyptian never allowed Coll – who was featuring in his second semi-final at a PSA Platinum event – to settle into any kind of rhythm or consistency as he dominated from the outset in front of a packed-out partisan home crowd to take a comfortable two game lead.
The Kiwi refused to go down without a fight, however, and produced a dogged performance in the third to push Farag all the way to a tie-break before the World No.2 converted to claim an 11-4, 11-4, 13-11 victory and book his place in his fifth PSA final of the season.
“I think it has to do with the crowd here,” said Farag afterwards. “They push me in every single point. Paul came back strong at 10-7 match ball – I was looking in the eyes of Nour [El Tayeb] and my parents and they gave me the courage to keep going.
“It’s obviously a dream for everyone to become World No.1, but if you keep thinking about the results and the rankings then it’s only going to hold me back. You want to take it one step at a time and you don’t want to get too ahead of yourself.”
Farag will now face compatriot Gawad for the title after he put in another strong performance to overcome World No.4 Tarek Momen in a thrilling 90-minute battle.
The recently crowned Pakistan Open champion enjoyed a huge win over current World No.1 ElShorbagy in the last round and was able to back that up with another upset to reach the final of a PSA Platinum event for the first time since the 2017 El Gouna International.
The 27-year-old Gawad took the opening game before intelligent play from Momen saw the 30-year-old draw level. However, former World Champion Gawad continued to dig in deep and fight for every point to take a 2-1 lead, before the fourth game saw a very tight affair with high quality squash from both players before Gawad clinched an 12-10, 6-11, 11-9, 15-13 victory.
“This is my third tournament in a row and I didn’t have a rest in between, so of course I’m really happy with my performances here and I’m really happy that I can stand on my feet and play until the last point here.
“When I woke up this morning, I was very happy about what happened yesterday. But I learned my lesson when I became World No.1 in El Gouna, and the next day, I just wouldn’t play. So, I made sure I was focusing on today’s match.
“Since the start of the season I’m only losing to Ali Farag, so he’s a very tough player. Hopefully tomorrow we can perform and play a very good match. I’m feeling great on court and I’m just enjoying my squash these days.”
The final will take place on Sunday December 9. The match will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only) from 19:00 local time (UTC+2).
CIB Black Ball Squash Open, Black Ball Sports Club, Cairo, Egypt.
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt  Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-1: 12-10, 6-11, 11-9, 15-13 (90m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Paul Coll (NZL) 3-0: 11-4, 11-4, 13-11 (47m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA