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World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad

Season Review: November


The PSA Dubai World Series Finals last month brought an end to one of the most remarkable and thrilling seasons on the PSA World Tour.

Over the past few weeks we have been looking back at the major moments that lit up the PSA World Tour during 2016/17 and have already looked at the outstanding performers, breakthrough stars, biggest shocks, comebacks, rallies of the season and the players to keep an eye on during the next campaign.

In this part of our season review, we go back to look at the highlights from November 2016.

November saw the conclusion of the biggest tournament on the Men’s Tour – the PSA World Championship – in Cairo, while Doha hosted the 13th Qatar Classic.

Karim Abdel Gawad (left) v Ramy Ashour (right) in the 2016 PSA Men's World Championship

Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad made history in Cairo after the 25-year-old became only the third Egyptian male ever to become World Champion after victory over three-time winner Ramy Ashour in the final at the Wadi Degla Club.

Gawad was on the verge of an ignominious exit on day one after he fell to a shock 2-0 deficit against Nathan Lake, who was ranked at World No.74 at the time – 70 places behind the ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’.

But Gawad has become something of a five-game specialist in recent years and he recovered to win, while his propensity for 3-2 victories reared its head again against Mohamed Abouelghar in round two and then-World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy in the semi-finals.

Gawad was then forced to come back from a game down to go 2-1 up in his final clash with Ashour when, in the fourth, the hamstring injuries that have ravaged the last two years of Ashour’s career flared up yet again ,with the maverick former World No.1 forced to retire from the match, handing the title to Gawad.

The Women’s Wadi Degla Open was held alongside the Men’s World Championship where Raneem El Welily was in scintillating form to overcome compatriot and then-World No.3 Nouran Gohar to lift the inaugural title.

El Welily came through a tough semi-final clash with legendary Malaysian Nicol David, while Gohar prevailed against Tesni Evans of Wales after Evans played some of her best squash to achieve her first ever W50 last four berth.

El Welily and Gohar, both representatives of the prestigious Wadi Degla Club, were meeting for the sixth time on the PSA World Tour, with Gohar winning their last two fixtures.

First blood went to El Welily in game one, as she overcame a nervy start and a flurry of errors to go a game ahead, with the then-World No.4 pulling away from the midway point after finally finding her range.

El Welily then surged 4-1 ahead in the second, only for Gohar to fightback and capitalise on some loose shots to rattle off eight points in a row to take the second 11-7.

Gohar’s comeback, however, was short-lived as her opponent worked her way back into the contest and closed out victory in the remaining games to claim her second PSA World Tour title of the season.

Later on in the month, Gawad’s impressive season continued to go from strength-to-strength after he put in a superb performance to defeat then-World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy in the final of the 2016 Qatar Classic – lifting his maiden World Series title.

Gawad earned his final berth after recovering from a game down to beat England’s Daryl Selby in their last four clash, while ElShorbagy went one further, overturning a two-game deficit to down three-time World Champion Nick Matthew.

ElShorbagy found himself on the receiving end of a Matthew masterclass in the opening two games of their fixture as an inspired performance from ‘The Wolf’ saw him limit ElShorbagy’s hitting to great effect.

However, the Egyptian managed to overturn a 9-7 deficit in the third game, which was the catalyst for an impressive comeback from ElShorbagy, who then outplayed Matthew in the fourth and ground out a tense win in the decider to claim an 8-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-9 victory.

Defending champion ElShorbagy went into the final with history on his side having won the tournament the last two times it was held in 2013 and 2015. But it was Gawad who played with composure and accuracy to come out on top to write his name into the history books once more.

November continued to bring joy for the Egyptian players on the PSA World Tour as then-World No.18 Fares Dessouky – whose previous appearance saw him walk off court and concede his quarter-final match to Ashour after disagreeing with refereeing decisions at the World Championships – lifted the second Tour title of his career when he overcame compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar in the CCI International JSW ISC, PSA M50 tournament.

Top seed Dessouky, whose last Tour title came in 2013, had been in fine fettle in the build-up to the final, dispatching Olli Tuominen, Alan Clyne and Chris Simpson to book a place in the title decider.
The Egyptian then got the better of his compatriot over five games to claim a maiden PSA M50 title.

In the final of the ReidBuilt Homes Edmonton Open, it was Peru’s Diego Elias who came out on top to beat Mexico’s Cesar Salazar in straight games at the Royal Glenora Club.

Elias had reached the semi-final stage of the NetSuite Open earlier on in the season to break into the world’s top 30 for the first time before going on to beat Salazar to capture PSA M35 crown, the fourth title success of his career.

November was also a month to remember for for Pakistan’s Farhan Mehboob, who lifted his seventh PSA World Tour title at the Serena Hotels Cas International Squash Championship.

Full list of winners
Wadi Degla Open 2016 – Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Wadi Degla PSA Men’s World Championship 2016 – Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Nicola Wealth Open 2016 – Hollie Naughton (CAN)
Herzliya Autumn Tournament 2016 – Piedro Schweertman (NED)
Life Time Minneapolis Open 2016 – Nick Sachvie (CAN)
4th Open Squash Provence Chateau-Arnoux 2016 – Carlos Cornes Ribadas (ESP)
Pacific Toyota Cairns Squash International 2016 (Men’s title) – Zac Alexander (AUS)
Pacific Toyota Cairns Squash International 2016 (Women’s title) – Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL)
Jordan Squash Federation Amman Squash Open (Men’s title) – Mohammad Alsarraj (JOR)
Jordan Squash Federation Amman Squash Open (Women’s title) – Kanzy Emad El Defrawy (EGY)
Ottawa Goodlife Open 2016 – Christopher Gordon (USA)
Tree Brewing Kelowna Open 2016 – Kyle Finch (ENG)
Open International Niort Venise Verte 2016 – Douglas Kempsell (SCO)
Qatar Classic 2016 – Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Simon Warder Memorial Prostate Cancer Tournament (Men’s title) – Juan Camilo Vargas (COL)
Simon Warder Memorial Prostate Cancer Tournament (Women’s title) – Samantha Cornett (CAN)
Sunrise Foods International Saskatoon Movember Boast 2016 – Joshua Masters (ENG)
Serena Hotels Cas International Squash Championship 2016 – Farhan Mehboob (PAK)
Monte Carlo Classic 2016 – Victoria Lust (ENG)
Reidbuilt Homes Edmonton Open 2016 – Diego Elias (PER)
CCI International JSW ISC 2016 – Fares Dessouky (EGY)

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