In a high calibre encounter packed with top class rallies, court play and shot-making it was Egyptian World No.9 Karim Abdel Gawad who narrowly avoided a shock first round exit at the hands of New Zealand’s Paul Coll in the 2016 Windy City Open presented by Guggenheim Partners and Equitrust Life Insurance Company.
After downing top seeded Zahed Mohamed in qualification to book his first round berth Coll, the World No.40, opened up in high quality form and matched Gawad point for point during a highly entertaining opening game. The Kiwi, who also competes on the international Crossfit circuit, then held his composure at 10-10 to play two high quality rallies and take the opening game 12-10 to upset the form book and set the scene for what was a nail-biting 79-minute encounter.
Coll continued to play with confidence as the second game progressed but Gawad showed his top ten class to re-assert his dominance to level the scores. While the Egyptian powered ahead early in the fourth a freshly recomposed Coll dug deep and again showed his class to push ahed from 8-8 to take re-take the lead 11-9.
It was a mirror performance in the fourth as Gawad again restored parity and in the fifth the recent UCS Swedish Open winner was forced to work hard for his victory as Coll refused to give in, doggedly pursing every ball before Gawad eventually secured an energy-sapping 10-12, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7win.
“Today was not easy at all,” said Gawad.
“He came through qualification but his level today shows that he is much better than a qualifying player. He was the better player today and he had me under pressure from the very start and throughout the match.
“I’m very lucky an happy that I managed to get the win and move through to the next round.”
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v [Q] Paul Coll (NZL) 3-2: 10-12, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7 (79m)