2024 Reports Round Two

R2: [3] Karim Abdel Gawad 3-2 Aly Abou Eleinen

[3] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-2 Aly Abou Eleinen (EGY) 8-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7 (97m)

This match could have been “la relève de la Garde”, the Change of the Guard. It was close. But Karim, the Smiling Assassin, strikes once again from 2/0 down. Why change the habit of a life time, hey Habibi?

I have been following closely Aly’s career. I like his style, his determination and grit. And everybody know the complete adulation I feel towards Karim. So, today, I couldn’t win, and I couldn’t lose.

Aly is coached for a few months now by one of my role models, Hesham El Attar – who used to coach Tarek Momen – who left for the Stats a long time ago, and Elhamdoulilah is back in Egypt, working at Sodic. Hesham has the same aura for his players than a Mike Way has for his. And today, Hesham will be proud of his protege, even if victory was not the result.

Dominant and solid in the first game, he didn’t make a single error, high quality opener, ahead the whole time, 6/3, 8/5, 9/7, 11/8. 9 winners for Aly, 8 for Karim, the shortest game of the match, 9m

In the second, pressure obliges, errors started to creep in, 4, but still in charge, from 2/2 to 6/3, 8/6 to close it first attempt 11/7. But the rallies are far more disputed, Karim is putting a heck of a lot of work in his opponent’s legs, in boiling hot conditions – the Aircon was not working as we would have liked and will be repaired tomorrow we are told.

A lot of errors from Karim in that game, giving away 7 points, 6 errors and one stroke, only 3 winners. Not much more winners for Aly though, only 4, giving away 4 errors as well. 20 minutes game.

Two love down, you know the drill. The hard work starts to make Karim’s opponent’s legs very heavy, and for the first time of the match, Karim takes the lead 4/3. He’ll stay ahead of the rest of the game, 11/7, 18m game.

9 winners for Karim, only 2 for Aly – Karim got penalised with 4 strokes….

The rallies are getting madder and madder as the 4th advances, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, strokes succeed to errors, 5/5, 6/6, 7/7, 8/8.

Crucial moment that 8/8. We get a video decision, a let for Aly, Karim is forcing the game on the backhand, another let, a stroke against Aly that is transformed in a let, and finally, a no let against Aly , 9/8. Another no let, Karim’s backhand shots tricky to get to, 10/8 and another winner for the former World Champ, 11/8.

21m game. 7 winners for Karim, 4 for Aly. Guess what. We are at 2 all. Who knew?

Sublime start for Karim in the 5th, Aly is a bit flat but at 5/1, a telling off from the ref ignites the fire in Aly’s belly, back to 4/5.

No lets are being given to both players – tiredness is taking its space – a big error from Aly at 6/4, but a stroke by the video ref, 5/7. Everything is still possible and Aly believes, Aly can, Aly pushes a last attempt. A ridiculous flick from Karim, racquet banged in frustration by Aly, 9/5 for Karim.

Karim, clever that he is, starts to slow down the pace, but Aly is on top of the next two rally, 7/9. The crowd is holding is very much involved, but despite a little knock in Karim’s crown jewel – completely involuntary, I assure you, he is now facing match ball, 10/7.

A ridiculous rally to end all ridiculous rallies, and one match point is enough, 11/7, 21m last game.

8 winners for Karim, still 4 for Aly.

Karim gets to live another day….


“It was very hard to turn things around today, especially with someone like Aly. He’s so hungry and he’s already in the top 13 in the world and he deserves to be even better in the rankings. He can break into the top 10 and top eight very soon. He’s a very clean player on court, great personality, and it’s always nice to play him. I try to enjoy it as much as I can.

“As long as you can have a good recovery. We train for these types of matches and we keep pushing in training and we keep trying to improve in training for these matches and the following matches to then recover well so your body can adapt to these tough matches. Of course I wasn’t very happy with my squash today, he was pushing me a lot more than I was and he was playing brilliant squash. I was trying to push mentally and physically and to try win.

“It’s a very hard call the next match, Mohamed and Baptiste are both very good players, they’re very good friends of mine and I think it will be a brutal match and I’m looking forward to watching this match.”