England’s James Willstrop is into the quarter finals of the PSA Men’s World Championship after sensationally overcoming former World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad in four games.
‘The Marksman’, who reached the 2010 World Championship final, held the advantage over the Egyptian coming into this clash, having won three of their four previous encounters, but it was Gawad who started the stronger of the two in the first game.
‘The Baby-Faced Assassin’ led 4-1, but Willstrop fought back to win nine of the next ten points in the game, moving into a 10-5 lead. Although Gawad was able to save three game balls, the Englishman eventually took it 11-8.
The World No.4 fought back in emphatic style in the second game, as he won it 11-4 in just a handful of minutes. Once again, the Egyptian moved into an early lead, but Willstrop was able to show his fighting skills, bringing it back to 9-9. Gawad then made two costly errors, handing the third game to the 36-year-old.
The fourth game was frenetic, with the pair maintaining in close quarters through to 6-6. A couple of errors from Willstrop gave Gawad the advantage, but after some decisions, the Englishman led 10-8 and had two match balls. Gawad saved both, but the World No.18 was able to win the next two to take the fourth game 12-10, closing out a wonderful victory.
“I am absolutely thrilled. It is hard to say because I am on a rush of adrenaline, particularly in these conditions where it is shootout squash. The intensity is cranked up and you haven’t got any time to settle,” Willstrop admitted.
“The mental intensity of the squash that has been played is heavy, so the adrenaline is high. I didn’t know whether I was capable of doing it. I know what I am doing in training, and I know I can play alright and I know I can hit the ball alright, but it is whether physically I can cope with these players in a match situation.
“In the context of what I am doing in my career, I am enjoying my squash and there are other things that are going on. There is a nice balance, but that is what you find when you are a little bit older. It means I have the freshness and the experience to produce a performance like that, and it is great that I can do it on a big occasion.
“His engine at the minute is strong, so he is match fit and sharp, much more probably than I am. Just because of the amount of matches he has played, but then I have the advantage of being fresher. At 10-10, I knew it was a chance, because the momentum would have gone with him in the fifth. He played a blinding three minutes of squash at that point, but I just had to try and take the right shot at the right time.
“To be here [the quarter finals], and with a rest day, that is quite positive. It is a fabulous prospect, and hopefully I can get recovered well and do it justice on Wednesday.”
James Willstrop (ENG) bt  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 4-11, 11-9, 12-10 (71m)