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Karim Abdel Gawad in action against Mohamed ElShorbagy

Channel VAS Final: Gawad Wins Five-Game Battle against ElShorbagy

Egypt's World No.4 Karim Abdel Gawad recovered from a game down against World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy to take the Channel VAS Championships at St. George's Hill, PSA World Tour Gold title in a thrilling 90-minute battle in Weybridge, England.

The two players are no strangers to each other, having faced each other 14 times on the PSA Tour previously. However, the last and only time the two Egyptians went to five-games was all the way back in 2016 when Gawad claimed the victory at the Men’s World Championship, which he went on to win.

2017 champion ElShorbagy came out of the blocks firing in the first game with Gawad struggling to adapt to the pace that the Bristol-based Egyptian was setting. The World No.2 went 8-0 up before Gawad was able to register his first point on the board before making a bit of a comeback, but it was ElShorbagy who eventually took the lead with a 11-8 dominant start.

The momentum completely shifted in the favour of Gawad in the second and third games with the former World No.1 having a lot more time on the ball and being able to use his hold and deception to his advantage to take a 2-1 lead for the loss of just four points across both games with ElShorbagy taking an injury break at the end of the third for his calf.

28-year-old ElShorbagy, who had spent 188 minutes on court before today’s final, showed the kind of resilience that has seen him prevail throughout the week in a gruelling 37-minute fourth game as he kept fighting back against Gawad. World No.4 Gawad looked at one point as though he was going to hold championship ball at 9-7, before it was taken away from him by his ball being called down to allow ElShorbagy to stage an epic fightback and push the match to a fifth.

ElShorbagy was not able to push on any further in the final game though as he looked increasingly fatigued against an in form Gawad who punished him with his accurate hitting to take an 8-11, 11-3, 11-1, 10-12, 11-6 final in 90 minutes – the longest match of the tournament.

“It felt great to play in that match, I think me and Mohamed haven’t played for a very long time in a final, since 2017 maybe,” said Gawad afterwards.

“I’m really glad to be back and playing in finals with him. He is an amazing athlete and I want to congratulate him on equalling Jonathon Power’s final record. He is such an idol for everyone, a great player and very professional on and off court.

“I’m really happy to win such a prestigious title. I’ve been playing here for so long and I have very good memories here. I would like to thank Mohamed for a great match today, Danny [Lee] for organising this and Bassim Haidar for sponsoring the event. You’re doing a great job here and I love playing here in front of a good crowd. Squash means a lot to us so I would like to thank everyone for doing this and my coaches and sponsors for helping me and supporting me on good and bad days.”

[2] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt [1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 8-11, 11-3, 11-1, 10-12, 11-6 (90m)

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