Former world No.1 and world champion Karim Abdel Gawad will make his return to the PSA World Tour following a 10-month spell on the sidelines when he lines up at next month’s Black Ball Open.
As reported by Squash Mad in November, Gawad has been receiving specialist treatment on a heel injury which has affected him since September 2020. He has since fallen from No.3 in the world to his current ranking of No.19.
The 31-year-old – popular with fans for his incredible touch and world-class shot-making abilities – will make his comeback with a first round fixture against Frenchman Auguste Dussourd, with the winner set to face No.5 seed Mohamed ElShorbagy in the last 16 at the Black Ball Sporting Club.
Current world No.1 Mostafa Asal is seeded first for the tournament and will take on either Fares Dessouky or Raphael Kandra in round two after receiving a bye in round one. Asal is seeded to face former world No.1 Paul Coll in the semi-finals.
The other half of the draw could feature ElShorbagy and world No.2 Ali Farag in a blockbuster quarter-final battle, with the winner of that fixture predicted to play the in-form Peruvian Diego Elias in the last four.
Reigning champion Nouran Gohar heads up the women’s draw, with the world No.1 facing either USA’s Sabrina Sobhy or wildcard Lauren Baltayan in the second round. From there, Gohar is seeded to play England’s Sarah-Jane Perry in the quarter-finals and New Zealand’s Joelle King in the semis.
No.2 seed Nour El Sherbini – who has won two titles at the Black Ball Sporting Club previously – is seeded to play World No.5 Amanda Sobhy in the quarter-finals and World No.3 Hania El Hammamy in the last four in a repeat of the 2021 Black Ball Squash Open final.
The Black Ball Squash Open will offer a $220,000 prize purse split equally across the men’s and women’s draws. The event will go ahead as a PSA World Tour Gold tournament following the dip in value of the Egyptian pound, which has resulted in the classification of the event changing from a Platinum event to Gold.