French ace beats world champion in Swedish Open final
By SEAN REUTHE
French World No.3 Gregory Gaultier lifted the UCS Swedish Open title for the third time in his career after he overturned a one-game deficit to defeat World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad in the final in Linköping – bringing an end to the Egyptian’s 19-match unbeaten run.
Defending champion Gawad, the 25-year-old from Giza, looked to be on course to lift a fourth successive PSA World Tour title to add to his World Championship, Qatar Classic and Tournament of Champions titles – the latter of which saw him beat Gaultier in the final – after he pulled away at the end of game one to take the lead.
However, a stunning response from Gaultier saw the 34-year-old storm back into contention, with a masterful display seeing him ease to victories in games two and three – without dropping a single point in the latter – before he came out on top of an absorbing battle in the fourth and final game to lift his 35th career PSA World Tour title courtesy of a 7-11, 11-3, 11-0, 11-8 victory.
“I pushed as hard as possible to grab the win, he’s obviously been winning in the last three tournaments and he’s the World Champion, so all credit to him, he’s an amazing player,” said Gaultier.
“He’s chasing the World No.1 spot and I wish him good luck to get it. I know this feeling and he is a super talented player. I’m sure he is going to get it.
“I’m glad I managed to play well here and I’m really happy to come here and support the event. I first came here when I was 18 years old and now I’m 34. I came to the first edition, so I’m really faithful to the tournament and I will keep being faithful as the tournament keeps going.”
Gawad, meanwhile, took time out to praise the new champion, saying: “I had a tough week here, but all credit to Greg, he played some amazing squash today. He was the better player throughout the match, so all credit to him.
“Since I won the Swedish Open last year, I have had a great season, and to reach the final here again is a great feeling.
“I’ve had a very tough season and a very tough last six or seven tournaments. This tournament I played well and reached the final. Chicago [the Windy City Open] is very close from now, so hopefully I will be able to reach another final and play as well as I have been playing for the last few tournaments.”
Gaultier’s triumph sees him move past England’s three-time World Champion Nick Matthew to become the sole occupier of third place on the list of the most successful active players on the PSA World Tour – just three titles behind World No.5 Ramy Ashour, who is in second place.
New Zealand’s World No.191 Mike Corren is currently the most successful active player on the PSA World Tour with 51 Tour titles to his name, although many of those are at the $5k and $10k level.
2017 UCS Swedish Open, Linköping Sports Hall, Sweden.
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-1: 7-11, 11-3, 11-0, 11-8 (59m)
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com) courtesy of Swedish Open and PSA