Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad is the 2018 Black Ball Squash Open champion after he defeated compatriot and world number two Ali Farag in the final at the Black Ball Sporting Club in Cairo.
The event is the first major tournament to take place in Egypt’s capital since the men’s 2016 Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Championships and it was Alexandria-born Gawad who came out on top 11-6, 13-11, 7-11, 11-8 in a match that lasted 62 minutes.
The title is the 27-year-old former world number one’s first at a PSA Platinum event since the 2017 Tournament of Champions, and his 20th in all.
Ranked seventh, he showed he his back to his best throughout the week in defeating compatriot and current world number one Mohamed ElShorbagy and world number four Tarek Momen before his final win.
Had Gawad’s 26-year-old opponent won the title he would have become the new world number one in next month's world rankings.
However, it was Gawad who opened up a two-game lead, and although Farag rallied in the third,Gawad held his nerve to ensure that he claimed his second successive title after winning the Pakistan Open PSA Bronze tournament last week.
"I had so many times where I was down," said Gawad, who has suffered a dip in form since reaching the top of the world rankings in May last year.
"All those months, all those days, I pushed and pushed.
"There were bad times, really bad times, but my team handled those bad moments.
"It finally paid off this week, and I’m back to my form.
Gawad added: "I wasn't 100 per cent there physically but thanks to my team, I had a good recovery until 4am this morning and I didn't feel exhausted today.
"It’s been a very tough tournament, especially for me as I’ve not been playing at this level for so long now and to be back and winning this major tournament means a lot to me.
"I’ve been working so hard to try and get back to my form that I used to play and I’m really happy to be back and end the year with a major tournament.
"Ali is my brother, we’ve grown up together and we’ve played so many times at juniors.
"He has been handling so much pressure this week and I’ve been there before, so I know how he feels.
"I had two or three times to become world number one and I kept losing every time, so I know how hard it is but sooner or later he will be world number one because he’s very consistent."
Farag added afterwards: "Karim was by far the best player all week.
"He thoroughly deserved that win.
"Karim was a world number one deservedly and he had a bit of a dip in his form last season because of some injuries but he very much deserves to be where he is today."
The next PSA Platinum tournament is due to be the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, a joint men’s and women’s event and takes place in New York City from January 16 until 24.