2023 Reports 2023 Round Two

R2: Mohamed/Karim “And I remembered to breathe”, Fram

[5] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) 3-2 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 11-3, 7-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9 (63m)

“I surprised myself today” confessed Karim at the end of the match. “I’m disappointed and happy at the same time”. Yes. You surprised us too..

I didn’t have to listen to Mohamed after his match. Because I knew EXACTLY what he was about to say. I read my Mohamed like a book. Like I read my Gawad. Their stress/laidback, their talent, their fears/no expectations.

Don’t forget that Mohamed was the last one Karim played against, during the Worlds in Cairo back in May, I remember Mohamed words as Gawad had to retire in the match. Who would have guessed it would be the last time we saw him till this week…

The way Mohamed had to look on the floor waiting for the serve or coming back to receive. The admiration he was feeling during the first two games, not able to focus on the match, just watching his opponent squash and thinking ‘only him can do that, alhamdulillah he is back’, ‘he is making me look like a junior’, ‘snap out of it!’, ‘one more rally, just one more rally’.


Ask Mohamed. I’m sure he’ll tell you that’s what he was thinking.

On the other side of the court. The King of Touch. Still wearing his babyface assassin mask, still as relax as his opponents are stressed playing against him. And his shots, and lethal combinations as he never left us. “with Ramy, Mohamed used to tell me, his shots are the problem. But with Gawad, it’s the way he links them together that is the killer”.

The game plan Shorbagy came with on today was to capitalise on the fact that Karim was bound to lack match fitness. So he played at a very very very fast pace until the 4th, where basically, he run out of gas, allowing Karim to force a decider.

But unfortunately, it was without counting with the extraordinary work the BBA did with his new fitness coach Diana Karim. It was like Karim was plugged into the electricity charger. At no point did he show signs of physical tiredness!

The first game, a joke, Karim is not on – that’s a first, Karim not winning a first game haha – 11/3 Mohamed in 8m.

But from the second, we know we have a match. 4/0 Karim, 6/3, 9/6 and 11/7 in 11m for the BBA. With Mohamed smiling and clapping his opponent…

In the third, I guess that David Campion, the English Coach, must have told to snap out of the spectator’s mode and get in there! Which he did. 4/0 up. But caught up 5/5, 6/6. The rallies out of this world, and suddenly, I feel tears on my face, I am so happy to see them competing again, to see THAT SQUASH, the squash I love again, on court.

At 7/7, Karim trips on Mohamed’s foot, “is the court ok” asks the ref. Bless him, Karim was on the floor but who cares…. From that point, Karim is a bit worries with his ankle, off the mark a bit and Mohamed closes the third, 11/8 in 12m.

We think that Karim is going to fold, hahha. Out of the blue, his best squash is back, 2/2, 4/4, zoom to 8/4, Mohamed is physically damaged at that point, and let the game go, 10/4. A bit of nerves from Karim, allowing Mohamed to believe he’s got a chance, but with a huge uncharacteristic COME ON, the King of Touch has levelled to 2/2 all, 11/7 in 10m.

The 5th. What to say. I must have breathed about 3 times in the 17m it lasted. Karim is out of it, or so we think. 6/2 Mohamed truly cruising but still nervous, aware of what Karim can produce especially in a 5th game!

10/6 match ball. Three unforced errors from Mohamed. Incredible tension. Incredible suspense. Incredible, full stop. But it’s not to be, and an EXTREMELY RELIEVED Shorbagy can relax as he closes the last point, 17m, 11/9.

“Never in doubt, hey Mo…”


I am so happy of course to be back competing. Of course, I surprised myself being able to produce such a performance after 10months out and only a month and a half training.

I had stayed 6 months doing nothing, stuck on the couch, my only exercise effort being to go to the toilet every couple of hours. My muscles were completely shut down.

In those 6 weeks of training, I did everything humanly possible. I was training with my coach Omar Abdel Aziz and my fitness coach Diana twice a day morning and evenings, and in between, I was doing a lot of mobility and flexibility, things like that. I can't thank them enough for the work they put in.

Like I said, today I surprised myself. I can't be sad from losing, but you know, I have that thing inside me, every athlete has it, you just don't want to lose. You just want to win. No excuses. Even if you didn't play for so long, there is no excuse for losing, so I tried my best today, keeping myself in the game until the last point. I'm happy and sad at the same time.


“I’m very happy to get through, Gawad has been out for a very long time. I’ve played Gawad all my life and the worst time to play him is when he’s not feeling as fit as he’d like to be because that’s when he goes for it and I hate that because he’s super talented and you know you’re going to have to do a lot of work when you play him. It’s amazing to see him back on tour and playing well, he definitely took it up another level compared to his first match.

“It’s to be expected, he’s going to get better every day and every tournament. It’s good to have him back, but I’m glad to get through.

“I’m not very happy if I’m honest, I played a lot of loose shots around the middle. When you play Gawad it doesn’t matter if he can move or not, he’s going to kill you. It’s a very fast front wall and it makes the players want to hit the ball hard all the time.

“Before that fifth game it was all mental. I thought I had a big advantage with him being out for a very long time. Luckily enough for me because he was away, it played to my advantage in the fifth game and I’m just glad I got through in the end.”