US SQUASH

PSA Season Poised for Dramatic World Tour Finals Conclusion

Karim Abdel Gawad (l) and Raneem El Welily

The 2018-2019 PSA World Tour season is set for a fitting conclusion as four of the world’s best players vie for the CIB PSA World Tour Finals Friday in Cairo, Egypt.

The finals will have an Egyptian flair with three out of the four finalists representing the host nation in front of the home crowd. After best-of-three format during pool play and the semifinals, the finals will revert to a best-of-five games format. Watch the finals live on SquashTV from 7:30pm local time, 1:30pm EDT.

First-time World Tour Finals champions are guaranteed in both the men’s and women’s final.

The women’s final will be contested between world No. 1 Raneem El Welily and France’s world No. 3 Camille Serme. El Welily is the only finalist who made it through pool play unbeaten, which included a 2-1 victory over Serme. El Welily progressed to the finals courtesy of a 2-1 win against compatriot Nour El Tayeb.

“She played really well and pushed me to the back and then dragged me to the front to make the gap seem big,” El Welily said after the semifinal. “I’m glad with the way I fought in the second, I came all the way back to 9-10 and couldn’t quite make it, but it made a difference somehow, so I’m very happy to come out as the winner today. Hopefully tomorrow I play some good squash and if I win, I’ll be very happy.”

Serme reached the finals with a 20-18, 11-9, win against British Open champion Nouran Gohar, and will be hoping for her first win over El Welily since the 2017 World Tour Finals.

“It’s funny to play against Raneem again as we played in the pool matches,” Serme said. “I can have a second chance in the same tournament, so I’m just going to enjoy and give it my all.”

The all-Egyptian men’s finalists will be contested by four seed Karim Abdel Gawad and eight seed Mohamed Abouelghar, who both upset higher-ranked Mohamed ElShorbagy and Tarek Momen, respectively, in the semifinals.

Gawad dispatched ElShorbagy, the world No. 2 and defending champion, 11-8, 11-2, to reach the final in emphatic fashion.

“It’s very unexpected, getting married on Friday and now being in the final of the World Tour Finals,” Gawad said. “When you’re married on the Friday, you don’t expect too much to do at the tournament and you don’t want to go on court, but once you get here and on court and you see everyone cheering for you, it gives you a lot of power. You just relax and play your best squash. I’m really happy to be in the finals and to be playing in Egypt tomorrow.”

Abouelghar entered the tournament as the lowest-seeded player in the event, and is now set to contest the biggest final of his career so far after a semifinal upset over Momen, the world No. 3.

“I have not beaten Tarek in training, so to come here and win against him on a big stage like this is a bonus, and I’m very happy,” Abouelghar said. “I lost to Tarek five times this season. Every time I played him I felt like I was closer, and I’m happy with the way I managed it until the end.”

The road to the 2019 World Tour Finals began with the FS Investments U.S. Open last October. All results in PSA Platinum events over the course of the season determined qualification for the season-culminating $320,000 event.

For more tournament coverage visit worldtourfinals.com.

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