Saturday, June 15, 2024

World Squash 2023: Karim Abdel Gawad sets up Ali Farag final

Just seven months after he was consigned to a wheelchair following treatment for a heel injury, Egypt’s World No.17 Karim Abdel Gawad reached the final of the PSA World Championships after taking out World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy in Chicago. He will play Ali Farag in Thursday’s title fight denouement.

Gawad, the 2016 World Champion, was out for 10 months until March due to a plantar fasciitis issue which left his career hanging in jeopardy. But, incredibly, he became the first unseeded player since Rodney Martin in 1991 to reach the final of the sport’s biggest tournament.

It marked an incredible return for 31-year-old Gawad, who followed up a quarter-final victory over World No.1 Diego Elias with a 10-12, 11-5, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7 victory over ElShorbagy to reach his second World Championship final and end his opponent’s chances of taking the World No.1 ranking next week.

“I’m over the moon after a very tough time, there were a lot of doubts,” said Gawad.

“I only had like a month and a half training before I began playing tournaments again. I was thinking a lot about whether it was too early to come back in March or not. I just took the decision because I had three tournaments that would expire [from his ranking] in March and I had to play or I would have gone too far back in the rankings. So I said I’ll play in March and see how it goes.

“I gave it everything in that month and a half. I actually trained like I’ve never done before. Tomorrow will be a great final. Hopefully everyone in Chicago and watching on SQUASHTV is looking forward to it.”

Reigning World Champion Farag will be his opponent in the title decider after he ousted World No.3 Mostafa Asal, winning 11-5, 11-8, 11-13, 11-2 to reach his fourth World Championship final in a row.

Farag, who spent four months on the sidelines earlier this season due to a knee injury, has a 100 per cent record in World Championship finals but has lost 10 of 19 matches against Gawad.

Ali Farag

“It means a lot [to reach the final] because I had a clear plan on the way back from injury and it was to peak for the World Champs,” said Farag.

“I was lucky enough that it happened a tournament earlier and what a tournament for it to happen at being the British Open [which Farag won].

“It makes it even more meaningful when you go through hardships and come back from them. So I’m extremely grateful to be where I am at the moment.”

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