Gawad's route to the final
A display of sheer consistency, strength, and skill was shown at the Black Bull Open by Karim Abdel Gawad. If beating Elshorbagy (world no.1) 3-0 in the quarter-finals and Momen (world no.4) 3-1 in the semis wasn’t enough, winning 3-1 against Farag (world no. 2) in the finals was the icing on the cake for the Egyptian pro.
Steady beginning (the first game)
The start of the first game appeared to favor Farag initially taking a 5-3 lead, however, Gawad quickly warmed up and found his pace. Firing a series of purposeful lengths using both pace and depth, Gawad began to dominate the T. Once his rhythm was in place, Gawad proceeded to confidently take a number of superbly accurate shots to the front, constantly mixing it up by throwing some crosscourt drops and quick boasts to keep Farag guessing. Gawad took the first game 11-6, looking incredibly strong by the end.
Upping the ante (the second game)
As soon as play began in the second game it became very clear that both players were fully in the zone, Gawad upped the pace by hitting a flurry of powerful lengths that were low on the front wall but still managed to reach great depth, forcing Farag to begin lifting the ball to get out of trouble.
Once again dominating the T, Gawad was eager to take advantage of any loose shots made by Farag by cutting them off very early and placing them tight into the front corner, this lead to a few unforced errors and incidents of contact due to the high pace, but both players (mostly) kept their cool!
This game was tight throughout and Farag managed to get a game ball opportunity at 11-10, however, Gawad delivered an impressive flurry of deception using huge racquet prep only to take the ball to the front, fooling Farag, the audience and myself on multiple occasions! Gawad took the second 13-11.
Turning point? (The third game)
The third game seemed like a turning point for Farag as he began effortlessly placing the ball to the front at every opportunity, landing in and around the nick every time! Gawad seemed a little too relaxed, intensity had faded and he seemed to be a lot less on the ball than he was in the first two games.
Farag’s quick lead left Gawad needing to catch up fast. Although he put away a few astonishing winners, Gawad made several unforced errors and Farag took the third 11-7. Gawad seemed tired, maybe he was using this game for a brief rest? This would be understandable after having such tough games prior to the final!
Finishing strong (the fourth game)
If your expectation for this game was for Gawad to still be fatigued, you would be sorely mistaken... Gawad came on as strong as he did in the first and managed to take the fourth and final game 11-8.
I believe that the reason behind Gawad's victory in this match was his outstanding shot selection, having the ability to execute the right shot accurately every time during a fast-paced game is a very difficult thing to do, but Gawad pulled it off flawlessly.
As a whole Gawad's performance was incredible throughout the tournament and I don't think anybody can deny that he thoroughly deserved the win!