Karim Abdel-Gawad receives the World Championship title (Photo: official website of the Professional Squash Association (PSA))
A fairytale run to a World Championship triumph was fully deserved for outsider Karim Abdel-Gawad of Egypt, who duly defeated some illustrious opponents en route to the surprise title.
The world number six snatched the prestigious title from three-time champion Ramy Ashour with a 3-1 victory at Cairo's Wadi Degla club on Friday.
"Until now, I cannot believe it," Abdel-Gawad was quoted as saying by the official website of the Professional Squash Association (PSA).
"It has been a very long week, I didn’t have a good start, but I think I did a good performance this week.
"I’m grateful to my team I was able to get back on court today after my match yesterday," he added.
After eliminating world number one Mohamed ElShorbagy in the semi-final, Gawad sprang another surprise at the expense of firm favourite Ashour, who retired early in the fourth set with Abdel-Gawad leading 2-1 in the final.
"I feel of course for Ramy, I wish him a speedy recovery of course, he is a great ambassador for our sport and we all need him to be on tournaments, he is a legend," said Abdel-Gawad.
"He’s great for many generations and all the generations learn a lot from him, even me," he added.
The 25-year old Karim became the third Egyptian to win the sport’s most prestigious title after countrymen Amr Shabana and Ramy Ashour.
In the semis, an end-to-end clash saw Abdel-Gawad trail 2-1 with 13-11, 10-12, 11-13 set results before turning on the table on top seeded ElShorbagy in the final two sets with comfortable 11-2 and 11-5 wins.
"This is the best day of my life, I'm so happy to reach the final," karim said after the match.
The first upset Abdel-Gawad caused at the World Championship came when he managed to oust Englishman and three-time World champion Nick Matthew from the quarter-final.
"Nick has been a role model for me for years, so to beat him and reach the World semi-finals is a dream come true for me," he said.
The World Championship title is not the only achievement of Abdel-Gawad this year as he was also crowned with Al-Ahram Open title in Egypt in September after overcoming fourth-seeded Ali Farag 3-0 in the final.
“As a player it is a dream just to be here but to win it is incredibly special," he said after that tournament.
“At the beginning of the tournament my only aim was to win my first round and to get to play one match at the Al-Ahram Glass Court. So I am so happy to hold and raise the trophy now. It was only at Championship Ball that it hit me, that I was about to win this tournament."
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