QATAR Classic has a new champion and he answers to the name of Karim Abdel Gawad.
In an all-Egyptian final lasting 67 minutes at the Khalifa International Complex last week, Gawad dethroned two-time defending champion and world No.1 Mohamed El Shorbagy 12-10, 15-13, 11-7.
It was Gawad’s second successive win over El Shorbagy following the recent World Championship semifinal in Cairo.
It was also his third title of the season, after the Al Ahram Open and World Championship, both of which came at home.
“Being the world champion and Qatar champion sounds good, really good. I’m living a dream. I need to thank my coaches Omar Abdel Aziz and Mohamed Abbas as well as fitness trainer Ali Ismail. And of course, my parents, sister and fiancee who are always there to support me,” said Gawad, as he collected the trophy from Qatar Squash Federation President Nabeel Ali bin Ali.
The Giza-born player has been in impressive form since his runner-up finish to compatriot Ramy Ashour at the Hong Kong Open in August.
A month later, he won the Al Ahram Open in Cairo, beating compatriot Ali Farag.
Then, in October, he stunned world No.2 Gregory Gaultier in the US Open quarterfinal though Nick Matthew ended his campaign in the semifinal.
But his big moment came in the first week of November when he won his maiden World Championship, where he beat compatriot and three-time champion Ramy Ashour in the title clash at home.
Gawad also became just the third Egyptian after three-time champion Ashour and Amr Shabana to win a world title.
The Qatar Classic was Gawad’s first tournament since the Worlds and he made sure that he started from where he left off in Cairo.
“When you’re a world champion, people expect you to win. That’s a new element I had to get used to during my preparations. I’ll have to make sure I’m very consistent if I want to stay in competition with the top boys,” added Gawad.
The 25-year-old knows El Shorbagy for many years, hopes their rivalry will continue for the good of the game.
“I knew that I could never relax against somebody like Mohamed (El Shorbagy). And I’m very happy to win in three straight games against him, because he’s known for his fightbacks. I’ve been competing with him since the age of eight! I know there’re many more battles to come. This is only the beginning,” he concluded.