Just one month after returning from a series ankle injury to competitive action of the PSA World Tour French World Champion Gregory Gaultier booked his place in the final of the 2016 El Gouna International, PSA World Series tournament, courtesy of a commanding win over Egyptian youngster Fares Dessouki.
The 21-year-old from Alexandria was making his debut in the last four of a major World Series tournament but got off to a flying start, playing some of the best squash he has put together on Tour inside the past 18 months, as he caught Gaultier by surprise and took the game to the Frenchman, forcing the pace and profiting to take the opener 11-7.
But the tenacious 33-year-old came back fighting in the second and, following a bizarre passage of play during which an exchange of words took place between the two which riled the man known as the ‘French General’, it was Gaultier who took the bit between his teeth and spurred on – turning his anger and frustration to the ball and taking Dessouki totally out of the game.
It was a story that repeated itself in the third, and while Dessouki managed to assert himself with more clarity than in the second, he was powerless to half the charge of the World No.2 as he move through to set up a title showdown with Mohamed Elshorbagy, the World No.1.
“Today was the first time that he managed to take a game against me and I think that is the best he has played against me,” said Gaultier.
“In front of his home crowd he surprised me in the first so I was more aware and on my toes in the second to try and make it tough and tire him. When I was 2-1 up I gave it a big push in the first few points in the fourth – moving up on the T and pressuring on him – and I felt my movement and confidence was getting better.
“It was tough, and the conditions were tough, but I think it was better than yesterday and we managed to deal with it.
“I had a great 2015 season, being World Champion and being World No.1, and I was in a great dynamic before the injury which broke up my rhythm and my season. I was unlucky and missed a few tournaments and I’m trying to come back as best as I can.
“It is hard to play with a leg and a half when you have half the power and stability but it is starting to come back and touch wood I don’t damage it anymore.”
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Fares Dessouki (EGY) 3-1: 7-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-3 (61m)