Egypt’s former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad got his FS Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships campaign up and running with a 3-0 victory over compatriot and reigning World Junior champion Mostafa Asal.
The scoreline flattered Gawad as the more experienced Egyptian was pushed all the way in a 49-minute encounter by the confident Asal, who claimed his second World Junior title in the summer.
Gawad was playing in his first tournament of the new season, after finishing the last campaign strongly with victory at the PSA World Tour Finals in Cairo and the former World Champion showed he is a contender for the big tournaments this season as he battled past the up and coming Asal in three games.
Gawad started strongly to build up a healthy lead in the first, before Asal began to fight his way back into the game but it was not enough to prevent the former World No.1 drawing first blood.
The second game saw Asal began to settle into his rhythm as it was his turn to build up a strong lead, but the experience of Gawad saw him draw level at 9-9 before doubling his lead.
Asal stayed in contention right until the last moment in the third game, saving numerous match balls to frustrate Gawad and even had his own opportunity to take the game but was unable to convert and sent the final ball flying into the tin to hand an 11-7, 11-9, 15-13 victory to Gawad.
He will now face France’s Gregoire Marche in the next round, after he overcame Mexico’s Cesar Salazar who was forced to retire from their match at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia.
“It wasn’t easy at all,” said former World No.1 Gawad afterwards.
“I remember playing him three years ago at my club and bageled him twice. Three years later we are playing here at the U.S. Open, 18-years-old and World No.25. He’s coming up really quickly and is really strong and playing some awesome squash. He is now my partner in practice and we practice two or three times a week – maybe I should stop doing that.
“He’s a rising star and I’m sure he will be in the top ten pretty soon.
“It’s very important, especially in the early rounds to really push. You have a long run, hopefully, so finishing the first rounds 3-0 is very important and you just need to give it some energy.
“It was a tricky first round for me today and I’m really glad to win in three.”
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Mostafa Asal (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-9, 15-13 (49m)