Gawad aims to make the most of maiden appearance in Dubai

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Karim Abdel Gawad.

Egyptian World No1 Karim Abdel Gawad says he is relishing the chance to compete in the PSA Dubai World Series Finals for the first time in his career when he will hope to cap a dream year with victory at the season-ending event taking place at Dubai Opera, starting June 6.

The 25-year-old finished top of the PSA Road to Dubai Standings after claiming maximum points at the Qatar Classic and Tournament of Champions during a season that also saw him win the PSA Men’s World Championship last November. And after reaching World No1 for the first time in his career in May 2017, he’ll be aiming to secure a remarkable hat-trick next month.

“To be World No1 and World Champion at the same time is a dream come true,” said Gawad.

“I honestly didn’t expect it. This season has been great but I still have a lot of dreams of course.

“It will be my first time at the World Series Finals so it will be a new experience. I was really close to qualifying last year so I’m really excited to be going there this time and to be playing in such an amazing venue.

“It’s going to be very tough but there’s no pressure on me. I want to go there and enjoy the experience and just try to play my best and see what happens.

“If you put too much pressure on yourself I think you will not perform at 100 per cent.”

This year’s World Series Finals is set to be one of the most competitive ever with the top eight qualifiers on the Men’s and Women’s Road to Dubai Standings battling it out for the $160,000 prize fund.

The tournament features a unique best-of-three games format throughout the group stages as players battle it out for a place in the knock-out semi-finals and beyond and Gawad admitted the change in set-up will provide a challenge for him.

“The best-of-three format isn’t great for me because I’m a slow starter,” he said. “I need to work hard to start faster and stronger and will have to adapt my training over the next few weeks.

“In best-of-three you can’t risk losing the first game – I will try a few things to change my approach and get off to a stronger start but the main aim for me is just to enjoy my first World Series Finals.”

The PSA Dubai World Series Finals takes place from June 6-10, 2017 with the tournament match schedule to be announced on Monday, June 5.

Tickets for the event can be purchased at www.dubaiopera.com.

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Massaro relishing defence of PSA Dubai World Series Finals crown

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Laura Massaro.

Reigning PSA Dubai World Series Finals women’s champion Laura Massaro says she is relishing the prospect of defending her title when this year’s tournament gets underway at Dubai Opera on June 6.

Massaro won the Dubai World Series Finals last year by twice coming from behind to defeat Raneem El Welily and lift one of the biggest titles of her career.

But the 33-year-old admits she will have to be at her best to make it back-to-back titles as she expects this year’s tournament to be tougher than ever.

“Last year was an unbelievable experience, to go into a season ending event against the top eight and win is something I’m really proud of,” said Massaro.

“It’s arguably the toughest event to win because the level is so high from day one. And this year, going in as defending champ makes it a little different. I know exactly what to expect but I’m really excited.

“I can’t get too far ahead though – I will just go into the pool game trying to play my best and see where it takes me because this year has been the most unique season I’ve ever played in.

“But this season there’s been a different winner, different finalists and different names at nearly every major event – which is great for the sport – and shows how high the level is. In Dubai there are eight high quality athletes and we all have different traits, training styles and philosophies.

“I feel proud, as the eldest alongside Nicol in that group, that I’m still staying with the players in what is probably my third era in women’s squash as the game is ever changing.”

This year’s World Series Finals features a $160,000 (AED 587,712) equal prize fund for both the men and women and a unique best of three games format throughout the group stages and semi-finals – before reverting to the traditional best of five format for the final – something which Massaro, who finished third in the Road to Dubai Standings, enjoys.

“You have to come out of the blocks as quick as you can because the first four or five points can be crucial,” said the English No1, who will be joined by compatriots Alison Waters and Sarah-Jane Perry in Dubai.

“I enjoy that best of three format and think it was exciting and I’m happy to be back in that line-up.

“It’s great that there’s a good English contingent going this year as well and it will be exciting to have the other girls there as well. As a Brit as well it’s always nice to get a bit of sun and I find that if I can bring a little bit of holiday time and combine it with the squash side that helps me be more relaxed and give my all on court.

Tickets for the 2017 PSA Dubai World Series Finals are available to purchase through www.dubaiopera.com or from the Dubai Opera Box Office. For further information on both the PSA World Series and the PSA World Tour, please visit www.worldseriesfinals.com

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Sport in the UAE - Going Out - Elite Squash masterclass is sure to help you beat your rivals

Jay Asser 16/05/2017
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Squash may seem simple enough as a game in which you hit a ball off the wall, but there’s far more that goes into being a top-notch player than meets the eye.

Few are more aware of what’s needed to be great at the sport than Hadrian Stiff, owner of Elite Squash and coach to some of the world’s best players. With plenty of experience under his belt, Stiff is the perfect tutor to learn the game from and the public will have the chance to get first-hand knowledge from the coach at Elite Squash UAE’s masterclass coaching camp.

To be held next month from June 9-10 at the Aviation Club in Dubai, the camp will offer the rare opportunity to receive training and advice from Stiff, as well as a seat to watch the PSA World Series Finals.

Two players to keep an eye on in the Dubai tournament next month are world No3 Mohamed El Shorbagy and world No5 Marwan El Shorbagy. The Egyptian brothers have taken the sport by storm, with Stiff having worked with them to maximise their talents.

That same type of professional coaching will be available at the masterclass camp, where players will learn about movement, technique and tactics through personal feedback and video tutorials.

Whether you’re someone wanting to take your skills to the next level, or just wanting to develop a foundation, the camp has you covered.

Participants can choose either one or both days, which will include lunch, dinner, a T-shirt and two sessions in which, for example, players will be coached on elements like ‘speed of movement and the art of relaxed efficiency’, or ‘skill development and the short game through grip sensation and feel’.

The camp is limited to eight players per day, so make sure to reserve your spot as soon as possible through www.elitesquash.ae. Participants can choose to pay either Dh1,000 per day for the camp alone, or Dh1,350 inclusive of a PSA World Series Finals ticket at Dubai Opera.

Squash fans would be remiss to not take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to up their game.

WHAT: Elite Squash’s masterclass coaching camp
WHERE: Aviation Club, Dubai
WHEN: June 9-10, from noon onwards
CONTACT: Visit www.elitesquash.ae to reserve your spot and for more information

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