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Ali Farag receives the trophy. Pictures: Trevor Bowes

Farag outlasts Gawad to land Montreal Open Crown


Egypt’s Ali Farag came through a spectacular final showdown with compatriot Karim Abdel Gawad to secure the 2016 Montreal Open, PSA M35 tournament and continue his superb recent form on the PSA World Tour.

The 23-year-old hit the headlines towards the end of the January where he stunned World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy and World No.3 Nick Matthew to win his biggest ever title at the Motor City Open and, despite a first round exit at the recent Windy City Open presented by Guggenheim Partners and EquiTrust Life Insurance Company, retained his excellent performances in Canada.

Gawad’s victory at the UCS Swedish Open a month ago, which was his first PSA M70 title, was also fresh in the memory and he was seeking to maintain his superb progress thus far in the 2015/16 campaign.

All four corners of the court were hit with regularity as both players exhibited a swashbuckling style of squash in a free-flowing and engaging spectacle. Gawad surged to the opener but Farag navigated a mammoth second game to take it 18-16 on the tie-break.

Farag, one of the most in-form players on the PSA World Tour at present, then went 2-1 behind but refused to give up and produced a magnificent comeback that belied his tender years as he took two games without reply, wrapping up a gruelling 3-11, 18-16, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7 victory to lift his second PSA World Tour title of 2016.

“Karim started extremely well, the court was quite dead and he was keeping every ball in,” said Farag.

“I literally couldn’t do anything with but then I shouted at myself a little bit just to wake myself up and I think it worked. I found my corners in the back and from that point on I think I was very disciplined which is something I am proud of because every time I play with him he kills every shot around the ’T’ area. I tried to make it as straight as possible and I think it worked.

“It was paying dividends and he started hitting a lot of tins. In the second it was neck-and-neck and I was lucky to get that one as 2-0 down is a lot different to 1-1, not only in terms of the score but the momentum as well. I lost a little bit of discipline in the third and a silly cross court at 10-9 meant that he hit a perfect straight drive.

“I think he got a little bit tired towards the end of the match and I could see that he was getting a little bit slower to the front of the court so I won that one but Karim is very experienced in the fifth game. We have played about 30 times in our life, 20 of those have gone to five games and I would say he has won 17 of them. I’m lucky to get this one today.

“I think that he has a better attacking game than me but I tried to contain that and play straight shots from the front which is something that I usually don’t do and I tried to mix it up as well. I’m happy with the way it ended.”

Result – Final: Montreal Open 2016
[2] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [1] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-2: 3-11, 18-16, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7 (97m)

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