R3: Not plain sailing for Karim but he takes it in 4 against Leo…

[3] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-1 Leo Au (HKG) 11-6, 4-11, 11-7, 11-9 (48m)

Leo Au is such a clever player. I love his lob/drop shot routine, not sure Karim enjoyed it as much as we did though!

Karim had the pressure, and it was obvious to me he was pretty tense, on the other hand, Leo, cool as a cucumber in yoghourt with mint, and looking very good out there from the second game on.

Yes, the first game was a bit one-sided I felt, Karim very fluid with his movement, three errors but 9 winners, in control.

The second saw our Leo stepping up, taking the initiative and really attacking that front court very nicely, backed up with a stunning lob that caused a lot of trouble to the Egyptian. 2/0, 9/2, 11/4 for Leo. 8 winners for the HKG player….

A much better start in the third, 4-0, 6-2, but a bit of Karim away with the fairies, and Leo finding some exquisite balance attacking/lob, again, Karim forced to cover a lot of ground, 6-7. A bit push for Karim, 11/7 in 13m.
When Karim found himself 5/1 down in the fourth, I thought, there you go, another 5 setter for Gawad. Mais non, the Egyptian recovered, setting match ball 10/6.

It was not the end of stress of the Egyptian camp, as Leo produced his best squash at the end, and Karim will be very very very happy to win in 4, 11/0, in 12m….


Leo played some amazing squash and he didn’t give any chance for some of the rallies. He was playing tactical and this cold weather works well for his game. He likes to lob and drop and this is the perfect condition for his game. He gave me a very hard time on court today, I didn’t find any game plan or rhythm, but at least I’m happy to get through to the quarters.

It’s very special to be here. I remember coming here 18 years ago to watch Ahmed Barada play and I just wanted to go on court, so coming back here after 2016 at this amazing venue is just great and I have to thank all the amazing sponsors and CIB for bringing this back and doing such an amazing event.

Marwan is a very tough opponent, I’m glad to see back playing in the tournaments. He is very clever and plays some amazing squash – playing him in the quarters here is great and I’m sure I’ll be ready to play him again.