Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-0  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 11-3, 11-4, 6-0 rtd (26m)
We were hoping for a great battle, but unfortunately, Karim’s foot injury had flaired in the previous match. And against a Mohamed on fire – rejuvenated by his recent with with Greg Gaultier – he needed to be at the top of his form.
He tried for a few rallies per game but it was unfortunately never going to go his way tonight. From 3/3 in the opener to 11/3, from 1/1 in the second, 6/1, 11/4. I was surprised he lasted that long to be honest.
The final match of the night at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation saw two former World Champions go head-to-head as 2017 winner Mohamed ElShorbagy got the better of 2016 victor Karim Abdel Gawad in straight games, with the latter retiring from the match in the third game.
Gawad beat ElShorbagy in an epic five-game semi-final battle en route to his World Championship triumph six years ago but ElShorbagy has won 15 of their 20 matches in total on the PSA Tour, including the last five in a row.
ElShorbagy dominated tonight’s encounter and won the point virtually every time he put some work into Gawad’s legs. Gawad had no reply to his compatriot today and shook hands at 6-0 down in the third, retiring from the contest to bring a premature end to the match.
“I’m very happy with my performance, I won 3-0 today. Me and him go way back, as everyone knows, I’m not sure what happened to him. He came today with his fitness trainer, with his mental coach and his squash coach. When you bring everyone, you’re coming for a battle, so I was very surprised he pulled out in the third game. He came with his coach, his mental coach, his fitness trainer. When you come with so many people, you are ready to play a battle.
“I’m very shocked, if I’m honest with you that he put his hand out like that. I hope he’s fine, I don’t know what’s wrong with him, I know he’s been struggling with a foot injury, but he has been managing it quite well. He managed it well with me in Manchester and in the first two rounds in Cairo.
“It’s very disappointing when you don’t continue a match for the crowd, the game, for anyone. I’ve played over 600 matches in my career and I’ve stopped only once. I’ve always made sure even when I was completely struggling to just make sure I continued.
“Some players, I understand that you can risk getting more injured if you keep going. I understand if he stopped for that, and I hope he comes back stronger because he is very important for the game. He’s the most talented player of my generation, as I’ve said, so I hope he will come back fresh for El Gouna.
“I’ve watched Fares’ progress since he was very young. We both grew up in Alexandria and we get on really well. We haven’t played for a very long time, since last year, and he’s been struggling with a back injury, a knee injury, but every time he has an injury, he comes back even stronger than before, to be fair to him.
“He has probably the best technique on tour, I love the way he plays and I’m a fan of his game. I saw he won 3-1 before I got on court today and beating Greg Marche in hot conditions is not very easy, so he must have played well to get through that, so I look forward to having a rematch with him in the quarters.”