Twelve months after meeting at the quarter-final stage of the 2015 Windy City Open in Chicago Egyptian pair Marwan Elshorbagy and Karim Abdel Gawad locked horns inside the University Club of Chicago’s Cathedral Hall once again in a highly competitive second round encounter today.
Both players have enjoyed a purple patch in form of recent, with Gawad winning the UCS Swedish Open earlier this month and Elshorbagy impressing in both the Tournament of Champions and Colombia Open, but it was lower seeded Elshorbagy who got off to a promising start to capitalise on a sluggish looking Gawad to take the opening game.
Both men came through tough five-game battles in the first round and the effects of those exploits seemed to take a toll on Gawad as the World No.8 struggled to play with any rhythm as he fell 2-0 down. A five-game specialist though Gawad began to fight back in typical style in the third, growing in confidence as he began to play with improved line and length to get him name on the scoreboard.
Gawad continued to enjoy the upper hand in the fourth as Elshorbagy consigned himself to a fifth game shootout and it was the World No.10 who got off to the perfect start, racing into a 4-0 lead courtesy of some tentative errors form the racket of Gawad.
From 1-5 down Gawad pressed hard and made life difficult for Elshorbagy, younger brother of World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy, but it was the Bristol-based man who came through in the end to stave off Gawad’s fightback.
“We know each other’s game very well so we knew what to expect from each other today,” said Marwan.
“I think I managed to play better in the first two games and he was the better player in the second two and I know how good he is at winning five-game matches so I just told myself to keep hitting and running and giving it my all.
“I beat him here in five last year, which is unusual, so I just didn’t think about defeat and I’m very happy to win especially because this is a big tournament for me.
“I reached the semis here last year and I’m in the quarters again this year so I’m looking forward to coming back on court in a couple of days.
“You know being Mohamed’s brother is difficult at times because people expect me to have the same success as him which can bring some pressure but we have a great relationship.
“I’m very proud of him and what he has achieved – but hopefully I’ll be the one to take his World No.1 spot some day”
Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-2: 11-8, 11-8, 4-11, 5-11, 11-6 (73m)