By Sports Reporter/Doha
World champion Karim Abdel Gawad’s Qatar Classic title defence ended with a 1-3 second round loss to Germany’s Simon Rosner yesterday.
Last year, Gawad had become the third Egyptian to lift the PSA Men’s World Championship title, while he followed that up two weeks later with his first ever World Series title at the Qatar Classic, defeating compatriot and the then world number one, Mohamed El Shorbagy.
His form, however, has dipped considerably since then and has had an erratic start to the new season, with a runner-up finish to Mohamed El Shorbagy at the Oracle NetSuite Open last month followed by a shock first round defeat at the hands of world No 10 Paul Coll at the US Open.
Yesterday at the Khalifa Tennis and Squash Complex, Gawad’s struggle continued as he was looking totally out of sorts against the 29-year-old German, who won 11-7, 11-8, 3-11, 11-9 for a quarter-final spot.
The 26-year-old Egyptian had survived a scare on Monday when he had to rally to beat Borja Golan of Spain 3-1.
Earlier yesterday, former champions Greg Gaultier, Nick Matthew, Mohamed El Shorbagy and Ali Farag marched into the quarter-finals.
Peruvian qualifier Diego Elias, who had sent former champion James Willstrop packing in the first round, defeated India’s Saurav Ghosal 3-0 (11-8, 11-6, 11-9) in 38 minutes to enter the last eight stage.
Earlier in the evening, a masterclass in patience and a display of relentless tenacity from Nick Matthew saw the 37-year-old Englishman break the French resistance of Mathieu Castagnet in a high quality three-game affair.
Up against one of the best movers in the game, Matthew displayed supreme patience, biding his time and extending the opening rallies in a display of probing squash in its purist form.
Coming from behind, the Englishman, nicknamed Wolf, showed every ounce of stubbornness he possesses to squeeze a tight tie-break 13-11 and continued to offer the Frenchman absolutely nothing in the second, coming back from four points behind to dent Castagnet’s confidence and double his lead on the scoreboard.
That surge was enough to break Castagnet’s spirit as the Frenchman fell off at the start of the third as Matthew turned the screw to complete an impressive win that takes him through to face Tarek Momen in the quarters.
“Physiologically that second game was massive but only if you go on to rubber stamp it,” said Matthew.
“I had to get a good start in the third and put him on a downer. It was a bit of a role-reversal from yesterday. I felt like I was ahead yesterday and then lost points and focus, so today I showed that I can get those quick points and runs of momentum as well.
“He’s got great skill – people underestimate that. His mentality, he’s a fighter, he’s strong physically and mentally so I knew the points wouldn’t come quick. I had to be aggressive yet patient and I want to thank Jon Kemp who came down and helped keep my head together.
“At 2-0 I used my experience to come through because I want to be as fresh as possible tomorrow. I think this court suits Tarek’s game – his drops are up there among the best. I’ll have to get my game plan right and execute and improve again to be in with a chance.”
Gaultier managed to do just enough to get through his latest challenge on the road from recovery, dealing with the threat posed by rising Egyptian talent Zahed Mohamed to record a 3-0 (11-5, 11-6, 11-8) win in 47 minutes to reach the last eight.
After a shaky start in the first game Mohamed grew into the match and was able to test Gaultier and force the Frenchman into a defensive game, pushing and pulling him into all four corners. But Gaultier showed just why he’s the World No 1, using his experience and guile to get out of trouble.
“I came here with no expectations, everybody knows I’ve been injured – I’ll just give whatever I have on the court,” said Gaultier.
“I don’t have the same ease as I did last season, I cannot expect to feel like I did then, I felt like a bomb! The injury interrupted my preparation but you have to deal with it,” the top seed said.
In an all-Egyptian battle, two-time champion Mohamed El Shorbagy came on top against Fares Dessouky. But Dessouky will be left wondering what could have been, following a performance in which he showed he had the ability, but not the attitude, to take out the former World No 1.
Dessouky, showing the attributes that have taken him into the top ten, was in the driving seat in all three games, opening up early and commanding leads on the scoreboard only to collapse under pressure, mentally and physically, that El Shorbagy was exerting on him.
In the second game, Dessouky caved in after a 6-1 lead as El Shorbagy out-muscled him to come back and steal it. The scenario was repeated in the third as El Shorbagy came back to prove that he’s still the man to beat.
“I’ve known him since he was a little kid – I’ve watched his progress all along. He’s a great athlete and a great player. Our matches are always tough; to finish it in three is very pleasing,” El Shorbagy said. “I can’t get away from Ali (Farag) at the moment. We played the last two finals in a row and to play in the quarters, I feel we both deserve to be in the semis at least. We’ve had two great battles in recent weeks and I’m sure it will be the same again tomorrow,” he said.
SECOND ROUND RESULTS
* Ali Farag (EGY) bt [Q] Leo Au (HKG) 3-0: 11-2, 11-6, 11-6 (26m)
* Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Fares Dessouky (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 14-12, 11-8 (51m)
*[Q] Diego Elias (PER) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-9 (38m)
* Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Zahed Mohamed (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-8 (47m)
*  Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-2: 8-11, 11-6, 11-5, 10-12, 11-7 (82m)
* Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-0: 13-11, 11-9, 11-3 (47m)
*Simon Rosner (GER) bt  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 11-7, 11-8, 3-11, 11-9 (57m)
* Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-1 11-6, 11-8, 7-11, 11-4 (45m)
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