‘I have waited 14 years to play at this amazing venue’
By NATHAN CLARKE
Egyptian World No.6 Karim Abdel Gawad has admitted that the prospect of playing in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – at next week’s Al Ahram Squash Open NEWGIZA will be like a dream come true.
The Al Ahram Open is featured on the PSA World Tour calendar for the first time since 2001 and gets under way on Monday September 19 as squash returns to the iconic setting of the Great Pyramid of Giza for the first time in a decade.
Gawad, who last month reached a maiden World Series final at the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open, will begin his tournament against a qualifier away from the showpiece glass court.
And the Alexandria-born 25-year-old says that will give him extra motivation as he looks to achieve a quarter-final berth, which will secure him a place on the glass court.
“I’m very, very excited, I have been dreaming of playing there for 14 years,” said Gawad.
“I remember being 10 years old, being in the crowd watching and just wanting to hit at least one shot on that court more than anything else.
“The first round for me isn’t on that court, so that’s a big pressure and a big incentive. I really want to win that first match so I can make it to the glass court. I will do everything I can to make it to that amazing venue because it is such a motivation.
“I remember watching [four-time World Champion Amr] Shabana and [Current World Champion Gregory] Gaultier playing there in 2006, and the whole crowd was behind Shabana. He lost and I remember being crazy about him at that time and I was so disappointed that he lost that I didn’t watch any more of the tournament.”
Qualifying for the Al Ahram Squash Open NEWGIZA begins on Saturday (September 17), with the main draw starting two days later and lasting until Friday September 23.
The world’s greatest players, such as world No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy, World Championship runner-up Omar Mosaad and world No.5 Ramy Ashour headline a top-class men’s draw.
A women’s tournament, with a $100,000 prize purse equal to that on offer in the men’s event, is also included and sees the likes of world No.1 Nour El Sherbini, eight-time world champion Nicol David and former world No.5 Raneem El Welily all battle it out for honours in Cairo.
Tickets can be purchased from the following website and start from 250 EGP: http://www.ticketsmarche.com/se_1858_al-ahram-international-squash-.html
Pictures courtesy of PSA and Al-Ahram Squash Open NEWGIZA