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Karim Abdel Gawad celebrates his semi-final victory over Marwan ElShorbagy

Manchester Open SFs: Gawad Tames The Jackal

In the all-Egyptian clash to end the evening’s action, World No.3 Karim Abdel Gawad got the better of World No.7 Marwan ElShorbagy, in a fast and frenetic affair at the National Squash Centre in Manchester.

Gawad held the advantage over ElShorbagy from their previous 11 meetings on the PSA World Tour, and surprisingly for the ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’, it was him who started the quicker of the two. Usually a slow starter, the World No.3 raced into an early lead and took the first game 11-4 in just nine minutes.

The second saw ‘the Jackal’ fight back, though, and he had several game balls. Gawad was able to use his quickness and his shot selection to his advantage, saving three games balls before being successful at the first attempt, doubling his advantage in the match.

He then held a sizeable lead in the third and it looked like the match was all but over, until ElShorbagy came fighting back. He won eight points in a row to come from 6-3 down to win the third 11-6, but there was another quick start from Gawad in the fourth.

Once again, though, the World No.7 dug in and was able to come through to send the game into a tie-break, as the match got scrappier towards its conclusion. ElShorbagy saved the first match ball, but he was unable to save the second, with Gawad advancing to the final, where he will face the older brother Mohamed on Tuesday night.

“Playing Marwan is always tricky. You never know what is going on in is head. He is the best on court in finding plans and changing plans,” Gawad explained.

“I was 2-0 up today, 6-4 in the 3rd and then 8-3 in the 4th, and still he found a way to come back. Surprisingly I won the first game, which doesn’t happen a lot. I was really satisfied with that!”

“To be honest, after five months off doing very few exercises inside the house. I wasn’t feeling the best. Squash-wise, I don’t lose it easily, I can come back and still remember the shots, but physically and mentally are most important for me. That was exactly what was happening in training before I came. Every time I was leading in a training match, I would find myself losing the game and that is exactly what happened in both the third and fourth today. That is what I was trying to work on a lot.

[3] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt [6] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-1: 11-4, 13-11, 6-11, 12-10 (67m)

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