Gawad and Dessouky to clash after rain stops play
By SEAN REUTHE
Day six of the 2017 El Gouna International Squash Open saw both matches scheduled for the glass court – situated at New Marina on Egypt’s Red Sea – moved to the new squash complex in El Gouna due to unexpected rainfall, with World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad and World No.9 Fares Dessouky ensuring that at least one Egyptian will reach the final on home soil.
The new squash centre, which only finished construction in the weeks leading up to the tournament and hosted the qualifying stages and some of the early main draw fixtures, saw Gawad take on German No.1 Simon Rösner on the traditional court.
The pair matched each other point-for-point for the majority of the 52-minute encounter, with Gawad’s big-game experience and the roar of his home crowd seeing him prevail in the crucial points to claim an 13-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-2 victory.
“When I heard that we were transferred, I was a bit frustrated,” admitted Gawad, who will overtake Gregory Gaultier at the summit of the World Rankings if he reaches the final of the World Series tournament.
“I hadn’t seen the complex at all, I had no idea what the court felt like, and I was really worried as Simon had played two matches there, when I hadn’t even seen the place.
“On the bus coming here, I told myself that all conditions were part of the game, that when you want to be a top player, you have to adapt to what the game throws at you. And I told myself, forget about the conditions, just get on with it.
“The fact it was a small venue had some advantages, there was a lot of support for me I felt, and they really helped at the times I really needed support. So being here had positives and negatives, I just had to deal with the negatives to overcome them and finally win against a tough opponent.”
Dessouky stands between Gawad and a place in the final after the 22-year-old overcame Peruvian two-time World Junior Champion Diego Elias in a feisty clash, which saw both player’s engaged in a heated discussion as they walked off court after the culmination of an acrimonious encounter.
The match started on the glass court, with both players taking a game apiece, before play was delayed for almost an hour due to the rain.
With the match relocated to the complex, Elias held four game balls in the third game, but squandered them to a resurgent Dessouky, and he held his nerve to triumph in a dramatic fourth-game tie-break to take it 11-7, 7-11, 12-10, 12-10 in a mammoth 127 minutes, taking into account the delay.
They join fellow Egyptian Marwan ElShorbagy and Frenchman Gaultier in the semi-final stage, which will take place on April 13.
PSA M150 2017 El Gouna International Squash Open, El Gouna, Egypt.
Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half):
Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Diego Elias (PER) 3-1: 11-7, 7-11, 12-10, 12-10 (127m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt  Simon Rösner (GER) 3-1: 13-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-2 (52m)
Semi-Finals (To Be Played April 13th):
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Fares Dessouky (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA