11 Points with Karim Darwish
Squash fans are looking forward to seeing former world number one Karim Darwish in action at the 2014 Canary Wharf Squash Classic. He tells Alan Thatcher how much he is looking forward to the tournament and his plans for growing the game back home in Cairo.
1: Karim, it’s wonderful to see you playing at Canary Wharf. Why has it taken so long?
A: It’s been a while that I didn’t play at Canary Wharf, as every year I choose to play the KL Open, which has been on the calendar at the same time.
2: You are in the top half of the draw with two other Egyptians, Omar Mosaad and Karim Abdel Gawad (plus world champion Nick Matthew and Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez).
What are your thoughts on the draw?
A: The draw is always tough nowadays with the number of very good players coming up. Not only top 10 players who are tough to beat, but it’s anyone in the PSA ranking!
3: Miguel is one of the most athletic players on the tour. Have you ever seen anyone dive around the court as much as he does?
A: I’ve never seen someone playing like the way Miguel is playing. He’s definitely got a unique style on court, with the way he moves and dives.
4: You had a calf injury In Detroit. How long did it take you to get over it?
A: You know the calf injuries are one of the worst injuries, as it’s very hard to rest it completely. It took me nearly two months to fully recover.
5: Matches between England and Egypt are always important events in the World Team Championships, and you have played in many of them over the years. Which matches stand out in your memory the most?
A: Well I’ve been representing Egypt in the World teams in seven consecutive occasions,since 2001. The most match that stand out in my memory, was the one against James Willstrop in 2011 when we won the tournament and I had to play the deciding match and winning it.
6: There are so many exciting young players coming through from Egypt. What is the secret behind this phenomenal programme?
A: I think one of the main reasons why we are so good in Egypt, especially in juniors, is that we start competitions at a very young age, so we are used to this kind of pressure. We have more than 15 junior tournaments every year with more than 600 kids competing in them. We always have some squash idol to look up to as a role model and inspiration.
7: How would you define the differences between English/European squash and the way the game is played/coached in Egypt?
A: Well, in Egypt we focus more on the attacking game and we like to play a short game. So the new scoring system to 11 suits our game more, I guess. In Europe and England, they are more into the physical fitness game and playing more safely to the back of the court.
8: How did you first get involved in squash?
A: I first got involved in squash in 1987 when my elder brother took me to the squash court and I loved the idea of the game.
9: You are married to fellow squash player Engy (with baby son Omar). Are you planning to stay in Egypt?
A: At the moment, we are planning to stay in Egypt, as I have got a new job in Egypt which is the Squash Director at the biggest private club in Egypt and Middle East called Wadi Degla. And I want to help my country and my club by giving them my experience to raise new champions.
10: Would you love to see Omar develop into a professional squash player?
A: Of course I’d love to see my son Omar becoming a professional squash player and reach the top of the ranking as I’m so proud of what I achieved for myself, my family and my country, and I would love to see my son doing the same.
11: Who would you rate as the greatest player you have ever played against, and why?
A: The greatest player I ever played against is Amr Shabana because he’s one of the fairest players on court and he’s been my training partner and team-mate since 2001.
Pictures by PATRICK LAUSON