Squash World Champion and 2016 title winner Karim Abdel Gawad crashed out of the 2017 Qatar Classic after suffering a surprise second round defeat at the hands of German Simon Rösner, the 29-year-old from Paderborn who out-hustled and outplayed the former World No.1 inside Doha’s Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.
Gawad, who beat compatriot Mohamed ElShorbagy in the title decoder here twelve months ago, was off the pace in the early exchanges as Rösner attacked at will to take the first two games and establish a commanding scoreboard lead.
And the World No.12 then showed impressive mental composure to withstand a huge onslaught from Gawad, recovering from dropping the third game, to come through 11-7, 11-8, 3-11, 11-9 and seal a significant win that sees him record his first victory over a top four player at a major PSA World Series event.
“I had to be like a man possessed to come through today,” said Rösner.
“The key was keeping my focus at all times. Even when I was up 2-0, I didn’t panic or get excited.
“I’ve struggled to get these big wins against top four guys in the past so I’m really happy that I was able to actually play the way I know I can and keep my head throughout.
“You just need that one win against these kind of players to boost that belief in yourself. It was a big thing in my head so I’m delighted with how I performed today.”
Rösner will now face another Egyptian, Marwan ElShorbay, for a place in the semi-finals in the bottom half of a draw that will also see Tarek Momen and 37-year-old Nick Matthew face-off.
The Englishman, up against one of the best movers in the game in the form of Mathieu Castagnet, ensured his last eight spot courtesy of a masterclass performance that saw him display patient, persistent squash of the highest order to come from behind in the opening two games and break the spirit of the Frenchman and complete the win.
“Psychologically the second game was massive today,” said Matthew.
“He’s a fighter, he’s strong physically and mentally, so I knew the points wouldn’t come quick. I was behind and I had to use my experience to come through. I got my game plan right.”
Elsewhere, the top half of the draw will see two-time tournament champion Mohamed ElShorbagy face Ali Farag for the third time in three events. The duo squared off in the finals of both the U.S. Open and Channel VAS Championships – with each man claiming one win apiece so far this season – as their on court rivalry continues to intensify.
“I can’t get away from Ali at the moment,” said ElShorbagy after his victory over Fares Dessouky.
“We played the last two finals in a row and we’ve had two great battle so I’m sure it will be the same again tomorrow.”
World No.1 Gregory Gaultier will face rising Peruvian star Diego Elias in the final quarter-final match.
Results – Second Round: 2017 Qatar Classic
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Zahed Mohamed (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-8 (47m)
Diego Elias (PER) bt [Q] Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-9 (38m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt [Q] Leo Au (HKG) 3-0: 11-2, 11-6, 11-6 (26m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Fares Dessouky (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 14-12, 11-8 (51m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-0: 13-11, 11-9, 11-3 (47m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-2: 8-11, 11-6, 11-5, 10-12, 11-7 (82m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 11-8, 7-11, 11-4 (45m)
Simon Rösner (GER) bt  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 11-8, 3-11, 11-9 (57m)
Draw – Quarter-finals:
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Diego Elias (PER)
 Ali Farag (EGY) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Simon Rösner (GER)