Chris Simpson works past Aamir Atlas Khan but injury forces Nasir Iqbal to quit against Karim Abdel Gawad
By LIESL GOECKER – Squash Mad Correspondent in Dubai
November 26 (Dubai) – Karim Abdel Gawad (Egypt) and Chris Simpson (England) will face off in tomorrow’s final of the Dubai Squash Cup, the first meeting between the world No.17 and world No.23.
The first semi-final of the day started out so close. Nasir Iqbal (PAK) gave top-seed Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) a good first game that barely went Gawad’s way in extra points. But three points into the second game, Iqbal retired injured.
Gawad played brilliantly in the first game, favoring the corners with some lovely shots. Iqbal wowed with impressive, if not always lovely, pick-ups and at 10-9 moved into the lead. But the Pakistani gave up two game balls, and Gawad pressed in, taking the game 14-12. Iqbal was clearly struggling with his movement yesterday and throughout today’s game, and his concession at the start of the second set was unfortunate, but not a shock.
“I feel sorry for him. I wish he gets well soon and ready for next season,” Gawad said. “I was expecting a very tough match today and had to focus really well from beginning to end. I’m just happy to be in the finals and put all my concentration for tomorrow’s match.”
The next match was a study in contrasts – Simpson’s solid, English style, and Khan’s aggressive attack. Simpson, ranked world #23, had a good showing last week in Doha, making the world championship’s main draw. Khan, too, made the main draw at worlds, and has been slowly climbing toward his former #10 high from his current #78.
In the end, the unflinching Englishman won out, returning everything Khan sent at him. Khan started out well, quickly racking up a 7-3 lead in the first game with a wide and varied game. At least four times, Khan sent out amazing straight drives off the backhand to trouble Simpson. Simpson played steady throughout, with solid pick-ups and brilliant lengths. At 4-7 down in the first game, he took control and went on a straight run for the win. From that point on, Simpson dominated, winning the match in three sets to enter the final.
“I’m very, very happy to win,” Simpson said. “It wasn’t a cruise, it was a very tough match with lots of concentration requited.”
“I’ve watched him [Gawad] play a lot,” he continued. “It’s quite nice to play someone new.”
Tomorrow’s event kicks off with an exhibition doubles match at 6:30 pm between qualifiers Ahysan Ayaz (PAK) and Danish Atlas Khan (PAK) versus Sandeep Ramachandran (IND) and Mike Lewis (USA). The final starts at 7pm at the Nad Al Sheba Club. It is free and open to the public.
“We’re looking forward to tomorrow’s final. It should be a great match,” said Aroop Mishra, Event Promoter. “We hope Dubai comes out in force to enjoy this amazing display of athletic skill.”
The Dubai Squash Cup has attracted 32 players from 11 countries in the Main Draw. It is powered by A2Squash and supported by the UAE Squash Association. Matches are free and open to the public.
The final starts at 7pm at the Nad Al Sheba Club and is free to attend and open to the public.
Dubai Squash Cup 2014, semi-finals (November 26, 2014):
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) beat Nasir Iqbal (PAK) 14-12, 3-0 retired (18 mins)
Chris Simpson (ENG) beat Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) 11-7, 11-7, 11-8 (39 mins)
Pictures by NITESH SQUARE