Former World #1 Gawad Set to Return at Black Ball Open
Former World #1 and World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad – winner of the first-ever Black Ball Squash Open in 2018 – will make his return to the sport following a ten-month spell on the sidelines when he lines up at the 2023 Black Ball Squash Open, PSA Gold Men’s and Women’s events, set to be held from 2nd to 7th March in Cairo.
Gawad has been receiving treatment on a foot injury which has affected him since September 2020 and since then has fallen from #3 in the world to his current ranking of #19. The 31-year-old – popular with fans for his incredible touch and world-class shot-making abilities – will make his comeback with a first round fixture against Frenchman Auguste Dussourd, with the winner set to face fifth seed Mohamed ElShorbagy in the last 16 at the Black Ball Sporting Club.
The other half of the draw could feature ElShorbagy and World #2 Ali Farag in a blockbuster quarter-final battle, with the winner of that fixture predicted to play the in-form Peruvian Diego Elias in the last four.
Reigning champion Nouran Gohar heads up the women’s draw, with the World #1 facing either USA’s Sabrina Sobhy or wildcard Lauren Baltayan in the second round. From there, Gohar is seeded to play England’s Sarah-Jane Perry in the quarter-finals and New Zealand’s Joelle King in the semis.
Second seed Nour El Sherbini – who has previously won two titles at the Black Ball Sporting Club – is seeded to play World #5 Amanda Sobhy in the quarter-finals and World #3 Hania El Hammamy in the last four in a repeat of the 2021 Black Ball Squash Open final.
The Black Ball Squash Open will offer a $220,000 prize purse split equally across the men’s and women’s draws. The event will go ahead as a PSA World Tour Gold tournament following the dip in value of the Egyptian pound, which has resulted in the classification of the event changing from a Platinum event to a Gold one.