Defending champion Alister Walker will contest the final of the 3 Rivers Capital Pittsburgh Open for the second time when he faces second-seeded Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad in the climax of the PSA World Tour International 25 event – the fifth tournament of the 2014 US Pro Squash Series - at Rivers Club in Pittsburgh, USA.
The World No.19 from Botswana (pictured) survived a tough test against Tour veteran Olli Tuominen, the 34-year-old former World No.13 from Finland. Honours were shared after the first two games before Walker overcame a brief lead by the fourth-seeded Finn in the third to open a 2/1 lead.
It was nip and tuck in the fourth until eight-all – when top seed Walker ran off three points in a row to clinch his 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 11-8 victory after 69 minutes.
“Playing Olli is always tough both physically and mentally,” said US-based Walker afterwards. “Today I managed to get a very good win because Olli has been playing very well lately having followed his scores.
“He is very experienced, ever hungry and a highly-ranked player,” added the 31-year-old on the eve of his 16th PSA World Tour final.
Gawad, the 22-year-old second seed is the latest Egyptian to burst into the world top 20 – and demonstrated his prowess in an 11-7, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8 victory over third seed Nicolas Mueller, the Swiss number one ranked 28 in the world.
“Niki and I played like twice in the juniors and once on the PSA Tour and I was expecting a very tough battle – and here it was!” said the World No.17 from Cairo later.
“Niki is so talented – I had to keep my eyes open and focus on each of his shots and try to put the ball in the corners,” continued Gawad, now in the 12th Tour final of his career. “I’m very happy to win today and looking forward to playing the finals tomorrow.”
Walker and Gawad will be marking their second Tour clash – but their first since May 2010 at the Sky Open in Gawad’s home city Cairo. Walker beat the then 18-year-old ranked outside the world top 70 in straight games.
“Tomorrow against Gawad will be very tough,” said Walker. “He is talented and can rattle off points quickly and things can get away from you if you lose focus for a minute. We played several years ago in Cairo but he has improved considerably since then.”