Squash: Gawad beats Matthew in Dubai World Series Finals
Karim Abdel Gawad is already the next big thing in world squash (AFP)
Dubai - Gawad goes up against compatriot Marwan El Shorbagy for a place in the semis
It could well be the change of guard, so to speak, the passing of the baton. Karim Abdel Gawad is already the next big thing in world squash as Egypt continues its illustrious supply line of talent.
It is not for nothing that Gawad, at 25, is the current World Champion and world No.1 and it has been a life-changing two years for the man nicknamed 'Baby-Faced Assassin.' And he brought that the fore by sending old guard England's Nick Matthew packing in the second round of the PSA Dubai World Series Finals at the Dubai Opera on Wednesday.
Gawad didn't have the best of starts to the tournament, going down to Germany's Simon Rosner in the first round, but he made up for it by working off Matthew, a three-time world champion 11-7, 11-6 in just 21 minutes.
And Gawad, whose comparisons have be made to none other than four-time world champion and countryman Amr Shabana, was delighted to put the wheels back on his campaign.
"I'm very pleased to have got a 2-0 win today against one of the sport's legends. Nick is a very tough player to play and especially best of three. He's one of the most experienced players on the tour now and it is really tough to play against him. So, I'm please to get a win today," Gawad said. "It is really important to win these kind of matches and to have a chance to win and to qualify. It is my first experience here and I'm learning a lot and hopefully tomorrow will be another good day and I can qualify for the semifinals," he added.
Gawad goes up against compatriot Marwan El Shorbagy, who leads Group A with two wins from two, next, for a place in the semis.
"Of course, I have to win it. I don't want to over think about it and I don't want to put too much pressure on myself. I will just go on court and try to enjoy and play my best," he said. He also said that good preparation and a positive outlook helped him against Matthew on the day. "I had a very good preparation, I was really positive. Even when I lost my match, I was really positive and I wanted to play my best squash and not think about the results," said Gawad.
Matthew was surprised by Gawad's style of play and admitted he was beaten fair and square. "Sometimes, he's known to be a bit of a slow starter in best of fives but today, he was so sharp from the first rally and not just with the speed he was hitting the ball but also his footwork, his quickness of racquet change direction."