Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 3-0  Youssef Soliman (Egy) 11-4, 11-7, 11-3 (34m)
I had a little dust in my eye at the end of the match as 4 years ago, I saw him win that same event, my last reporting outside of Egypt. I remembered our conversation in BlackBall: My workout of the day was to go to the toilet…” I also remembered having to remember to breathe when he played Mohamed ElShorbagy during that same event.
Today, it was all sorted in the first rallies, as Karim didn’t make any errors in that opener. And you know, YOU KNOW what he is going to get up to when he is confident in his short game:
3-0, 5-1, 8-2, 11-4 in 10m. Three calls (2 no lets, one stroke)
2-0, 4-1, 7-4, 9-6, 11-7 in 12m. Two calls (1 stroke, 1 let confirmed)
5-0, 6-1, 8-2, 11-3 in 8m. Two calls (1 let, one stroke overruled let)
I feel sorry for Youssef, who was getting treatment on his leg right before the match, a niggle he had before the event, because Karim made it look so easy. So fluid. So obviously skilled.
As Yous commented, “It’s great to have him back as a fan, not as a player”. I remember Raneem commenting about Nour El Sherbini return “Unfortunately, it’s good to have her back”…
I was saying to myself on court, it’s so good to have him back. Not as an opponent, mind you, but as a fan…
He was so smart, he took full advantage of the court, I wanted to extend the rallies, but he wouldn’t let me. It’s so nice to have him back, to see him do well again, and I wish him all the best for the rest of the season.
“A year ago I didn’t have a chance to be on court, I didn’t think I’d be on court again.
“My only wish was to take every advantage I could train as hard as I could and play every tournament I could. I learnt a lot from my injury, I’m really happy and grateful to have another chance to be on court in front of an amazing crowd and doing what I love the most in my life.
“Thanks to the promoter, all the sponsors, all the crowd that came to watch. Without all these things, the tournament wouldn’t be able to happen so I’m looking forward to coming back and playing again.
“I was so down, I was very depressed. I coudln’t walk, and my workout of the day was to go to the toilet…I lost 7kg of muscle. I want to thank my wife for taking care of me, my coach Omar Abdel Aziz, my fitness coach Diana Karim, of course my physio, Dr Mohamed Wafaay who used to abandon his clinic to travel with me to Germany for my treatments, my mental coach played a huge role during those long months as well, everyone. It was a hard time, luckily I’m back on court and enjoying every moment here and looking forward to the next one.”