World No.3 Karim Abdel Gawad is through to the quarter-finals of the PSA Silver level Manchester Open after getting the better of England’s Declan James in a lengthy three-game affair at the National Squash Centre.
Gawad, perhaps surprisingly, started the quicker of the two men, and was able to put a string of good rallies together to take the momentum, winning the first in comfortable fashion 11-5.
The Egyptian had to then fight his way back into the second game, as James responded with a good start of his own. The second would go on to be the longest singular game of the tournament so far, as the Englishman saved five games balls, including several in a tie-break. Despite a despairing dive from the ‘Dark Knight’, Gawad won it 17-15, and with it, broke the Englishman’s spirits.
It's the longest game we've had here in Manchester so far…
declanjames1</a> pulls this outrageous dive off <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SquashIsBack?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SquashIsBack</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MCRopen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MCRopen</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MCRActive?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MCRActive</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/GLL_UK?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">GLL_UK
Better_MCR</a> <a href="https://t.co/vsuDIgoxIO">pic.twitter.com/vsuDIgoxIO</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) September 19, 2020
James tried to respond once more, and started strongly in the third, but the ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’ had enough in his body to take the third 11-7, winning out in three games.
“We always have 3-2 matches. We played in the World Teams finals, and it was 3-2, 12-10 in the last. We always play very long matches, so I am very happy to win in three,” Gawad admitted.
“The second game was 27 minutes. Of course I am really happy to get through in three and I am looking forward to the next round. Declan controlled the ’T’ much more than I did. I was trying to just get the ball to the back corners.
As you said, we didn’t play for a long time, we didn’t go through tough mental matches like this. In the last month or so, I tried to push and play matches as much as I could, in order to gain confidence in my game and in my feeling. The mental aspect is the most important. That is the thing I worked on.”
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt  Declan James (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 17-15, 11-7 (47m)