Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-0 Joel Makin (WAL) 11-8, 11-7, 11-4 (51m)
If last times those two played were on the warm court of the TOC in New York – with their last encounter ending 2/0 for Joel, retired for a twisted ankle, today, on a much colder court, the conditions were much more favourable to Karim…
First game saw an unusually good start from the Egyptian! In control, playing at a mid pace and accepting the lengthy rallies – bread and butter for the Welsh – Karim led 3/1, 6/3. Some superb strong rallies, Joel really matching Karim’s shots, and keeping the Egyptian on the run. All levelled at 8/8, but a stroke, a ball out of court and a kill at the end of an endlessly tough rally and it’s 11/8 in 19m for Karim.
Second is closer score wise, Joel is looking more aggressive, speeding up the pace, but out of the blue, Karim finding some exquisite attacking shots both at the front and at the back, 9/5, and if Joel gets two points in, he is now led 2/0 11/7….
The third, well, Joel didn’t much wrong, but the hard work the Egyptian made him produce to match his pace/shots were heavy in the legs. 3/0 Karim, 7/3, 11/4….
“Since day one, I have come here and just wanted to give myself another chance to come on court and play. It’s nice to see the crowd coming today and supporting me and all the Egyptian players and support the tournament overall. It’s really nice to be here and play in such a nice venue like this.
“Of course there is some pressure playing in your home country. I feel the pressure but at the same time I enjoy being on court. Joel is one of the players who has come up really quick – I remember watching him in Qatar three or four years ago and suddenly he is in the top 15 in the world and beating all the top players. Unfortunately, last time we played he had to retire through injury and I was 2-0 down, so I knew today was going to be a tough match for me, I just wanted to play good squash – focus on my length and play some good winners.”