Karim Abdel Gawad Wins All-Egyptian Battle To Claim Optasia Championships 2023 Title
by Connor Sheen

photos PSA

March 26, 2023 - 2016 World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad has captured his first PSA World Tour title since March last year as he claimed the Optasia Championships 2023 title, beating compatriot and World No.12 Youssef Soliman in a straight-game final.

The former World No.1 was featuring in just his third tournament since returning to the PSA World Tour after recovering from an injury, but showed no signs of struggle as he settled into a devastating rhythm early on in the Gold event final.

In typical Gawad style, the unseeded Egyptian started to attack the front corners immediately, to test the movement of Soliman and ask questions of his compatriot after a tough week of squash for the World No.12. Gawad’s severe drop shots and kills were proving hard for Soliman to cope with as the older Egyptian took the opening two games in no time at all to place on hand on the trophy.

Soliman’s resistance was fading in the third game as the pressure from Gawad was unrelenting. The World No.12 was being forced into the front corners time and time again and despite his powerful and smooth movement, he wasn’t able to negate the skill of Gawad. Seven championships balls presented themselves for Gawad, who only needed one to secure the Gold event title - a first title since March 2022.

“A year ago I didn’t have a chance to be on court, I didn’t think I’d be on court again,” said Gawad after the win.

“My only wish was to take every advantage I could, train as hard as I could and play every tournament I could. I learnt a lot from my injury, I'm really happy and grateful to have another chance to be on court in front of an amazing crowd and doing what I love the most in my life.

“It is a great pleasure to be on a court that all the legends have been on, thanks to the promoter, all the sponsors, all the crowd that came to watch. Without all these things, the tournament wouldn’t be able to happen so I'm looking forward to coming back and playing again.

“I was so down, I was very depressed. I lost 7kg of muscle. I want to thank my wife for taking care of me, my coaches, my physio, my mental coach, everyone. It was a hard time, luckily I’m back on court and enjoying every moment here and looking forward to the next one.”

PSA World Tour action heads to Birmingham next for one of the most prestigious events on the calendar, the 2023 British Open. Action starts on April 9th from The Edgbaston Priory Club with 96 players looking to etch their names on the trophy come the end of the tournament. Head to the PSA World Tour website for more information.

Result: Optasia Championships 2023 Final

Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt [8] Youssef Soliman (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-7, 11-3 (34m)