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INTERVIEW: World squash number 4 Karim Abdel Gawad talks to KingFut

Egyptian player and world number four, , spoke exclusively to KingFut’s Youssef Wael about Al Ahram Open, , Mohamed El Shorbagy and the upcoming World Championship.

Abdel Gawad is an Egyptian squash player who just made it into the top 10 last season and is currently enjoying a great run in the PSA world tour, lying fourth in world ranking and second in the world series ranking.

The baby-faced assassin started playing the game at a very young age and managed to win his first ever PSA World Tour event, the Gohsen Cup, in 2008 at only 17 years old. He went on to win his first World Series event in 2011 after winning the Dubai Cup. Five years later, Gawad was named the 2013 PSA Player of The Year, as well as making it into the top 20 for the first time in his career.

Gawad spoke to KingFut’s Youssef Wael about his Ahram Open win, Amr Shabana and Mohamed El Shorbagy, his recent loss in the US Open semi final against Nick Matthew and the upcoming Men’s World Championship that is set to be held in Egypt from the 27th of October till the 4th of November.

YW: How did it feel winning the Ahram Open in its return after 10 years of absence?

Winning Al Ahram open was a dream come true for me. It was a dream for me and all my generation to play at this stunning venue since we were 9 years old. It’s the biggest tittle of my career so far, it means the world to me.

Squash Site/ Steve Cubbins

Squash Site/ Steve Cubbins

YW: How hard did you have to work to climb up the rankings this season?

I worked really hard in the off season and I had to work on many things mentally and physically. Thanks to all my team, my Squash coaches Omar Abdel Aziz and Mohamed Abbas, also my fitness coach Ali Ismail. They really worked very hard so I can reach to where I am now. We are still working together so I can reach to a higher position.

YW: Who is your role model?

I learned a lot from the previous generation of players, especially the Egyptian ones. I was really lucky that I was able to play and practice with them since I was 16, they added lot of important stuff in my game and made me much more mature at such a young age, especially Amr Shabana. I loved watching him and I got to play him 3 times in the PSA tournaments. I was really happy even when I was losing but just watching the match after we finished taught me many things and added a lot to my game. I, alongside all the Egyptian players, are lucky to have him as our National Team coach.

PSA World Tour

YW: Who is the best player on tour this season?

In my opinion the best player is Mohamed El Shorbagy. He did a great job winning 99% of the World Series tournaments last season and maintaining world number 1 ranking. Also Ali Farag for jumping very high in the rankings and to be world number 6 in just 50 PSA tournaments.

PSA World Tour

YW: Do you think you can be world number one?

Of course it’s anyone’s dream to become world number one and we are all working really hard to reach that position. Ever since I started playing squash at the age of 6 years, I dreamed to be the world number one and one year ago I worked really hard to be in the top 10 , then 6 months ago I really wanted to be in the top 4 in the world and now my goal is to be number 1 and I will keep working until I reach.

YW: Where do you think you’ll finish this season?

I have two more tournaments this season till December.  Of course I was targeting number 1 but if not then I’ll do my best to be top 2 in the world.

YW: You played a great tournament in the US Open, beating Gaultier and almost beating Nick Matthew in the semis. How did it feel beating Gaultier and do you blame the referee for your lose against Matthew?

I was really happy with how I performed in the US open. Gaultier is a very tough player to face; he is very strong mentally and physically and is a very experienced player. He beat me 7 times in a row in the PSA but this time I managed to win. I really focused on beating him, I talked a lot to my coaches and I watched many of his matches. In some matches between us I went on court and said to myself I’ll do everything to win this time, and I was really pleased and happy to win this time. Of course Nick Mathew is a very experienced player and three times world champion. I was very close to win, 9/9 in the fifth and a weird decision from the referees costed me the game, but unfortunately it’s a part of our game. Sometimes it happens and you have to accept it.

US Open Squash

YW: How do you think you’ll do in the world Championship?

I trained really well and I’m much focused. I will try and finish this season in the best form possible.

YW: What do you want to tell you fans?

I would like to thank all my fans and really thank you for all of your support either at the venue watching and talking to me or through your lovely message on the social media. Thanks for the motivation and pushing me forward all the time and hopefully I’ll keep improving with your support.

Youssef Wael is a massive Al Ahly and Manchester United supporter from Cairo, Egypt. One of the few Egyptians who never really wanted to have a career in football, just played it as a hobby. Wael also played squash for 7 years.

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