World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad says that he aiming to come back stronger after a mixed start to the 2017/18 season when he returns to the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex between October 29 – November 3 to defend his Qatar Classic, World Series title in Doha.
November 2016 was one of the most remarkable months of Gawad’s career as he became 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 World No.1 at the time, Mohamed ElShorbagy.
It was a landmark moment for the current World No.2, who had only ever reached a solitary World Series final before his displays in Doha, and Gawad admits it was one of the most enjoyable wins of his career.
“It was a very special moment for me as it was my first ever World Series win and I really enjoyed the way I was playing at that moment, I was enjoying every second on court,” said Gawad.
“November was a very special month for me, winning the World Championship and my first ever World Series event was just too much to ask for.
“Maybe most people thought I would feel a lot of pressure playing Qatar after the World Championships, but for me it was the opposite. I had zero pressure because I thought my body and mentality wouldn’t handle another big tournament, with lots of tough matches just a few days after winning the biggest tournament of the year.
“All I wished for is to enjoy my game and I tried to win as many matches as possible. Suddenly, I found myself feeling stronger physically and I was still hungry for another win, so it went from there.”
Gawad has had an up-and-down beginning to the new season, with a runner-up finish to ElShorbagy 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 U.S. Open.
The 26-year-old from Giza is determined to put that defeat behind him though as he targets a third successive World Series title to go with his triumph in Qatar last year and the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions crown he picked up in January inside New York’s stunning Grand Central Terminal.
“For me, that loss will just make me stronger and more hungry to win,” said the former World No.1
“I know I didn’t perform my best, I know losing in the first round is not what I am supposed to do.
“That will make me learn from it and come back as strong as I can.”
Second seed Gawad has a tricky first round tie against Spain’s former World No.5 Borja Golan in store, with Golan getting the better of Gawad in their Windy City Open quarter-final clash in February.
Gregory Gaultier tops the draw as he makes his first appearance of the season after sitting out the early weeks with an ankle injury, while last year’s runner-up Mohamed ElShorbagy is seeded to meet the Frenchman in the semi-finals.
2009 winner Nick Matthew is on Gawad’s side of the draw and is making his last ever appearance at the tournament after last month’s announcement that the Yorkshireman will be retiring at the end of the season.
Qatar is represented by a number of players in the qualification stages, while Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi, the World No.37, represents local hopes in the main draw.
The Qatar Classic is the second men’s World Series tournament out of seven this season and will see players battle for points on the PSA World Series Standings. Egypt’s World No.5 Ali Farag currently tops the standings after his U.S. Open title in Philadelphia two weeks ago, with only the top eight players at the end of the season qualifying for June’s PSA Dubai World Series Finals.
The Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex will host all of the qualifying fixtures, between October 27-28, and the main draw matches, which will be held between October 29 – November 3.
Every main draw match will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world) and Eurosport Player (Europe only), while action from the semi-finals and final will be shown live on mainstream broadcast channels around the world, including BT Sport, beIN Sports, Fox Sports Australia and Astro.
Entry to the tournament is free of charge up to the semi-finals and final. Semi-final tickets are priced at QAR 20 for back wall tickets and QAR 15 for side wall seats. For the final, ticket prices are QAR 30 for back wall seating and QAR 20 for side wall seats. Tickets can be purchased at the kiosk in front of the spectator gate on both days.
2017 Qatar Classic – First Round Draw
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Cesar Salazar (MEX)
Zahed Mohamed (EGY) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v [Qualifier]
Diego Elias (PER) v  James Willstrop (ENG)
 Ali Farag (EGY) v [Qualifier]
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v [Qualifier]
Fares Dessouky (EGY) v [WC] Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT)
[Qualifier] v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v [Qualifier]
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v [Qualifier]
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v [Qualifier]
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Paul Coll (NZL)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Simon Rösner (GER) v [Qualifier]
Borja Golan (ESP) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)