Day 3. Round of 16. Simon Rösner

Andy Taylor. Announcer. Qatar Classic Squash Championship. Day 3. Round of 16. Simon Rösner

Announcer. Andy Taylor. Qatar Classic 2017

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Simon Rösner (GER) def [2] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 11-7 11-8 3-11 11-9 (57-min)

The German Tree Chopper fells Defending Champion

Simon Rösner is the most successful German in the history of the sport. He’s been ranked as high as World #6, owns 8 PSA Tour titles, has reached 15 career finals, and is a World Games Gold medalist. Last June, he finished in the top-8 in the PSA World Series standings for the 4th time, and tore through the draw at the World Series Finals in Dubai. He defeated one of the hottest players on tour Karim Abdel Gawad — then 3-time World Champion Nick Matthew — and reached the Semifinals for the first time. Clutch.

Deutchland’s Lumberjack is at it again here in Doha. Yesterday, he dispatched Qualifier Tsz Fung Yip in just 46-minutes. Today, his sharpened hatchet delivered exquisite artistry and sublime precision against looming Redwood, World #2 Karim Abdel Gawad. In the first two games, he used every surface of the glass court, showcasing an on-court creativity that stunned the Egytian-leaning crowd.

Defending Qatar Classic Champion Karim Abdel Gawad. The Slow Starter

It’s well known in squash circles that Karim Abdel Gawad is a slow starter. Down one, or even two games, he always seems to find his way. Just refer to his 1st-Round win over Borja Golan for proof. Last season, his slow starts earned him 7 PSA titles, his first World Championship, his first two PSA World Series titles in four finals, plus the World #1 ranking by May. The Baby-Faced Assassin is nearly unbeatable down the stretch.

Right on cue, Gawad turned up the heat in game 3 and strolled off the court with an 11-3 win. For fans in attendance, the come-from-behind victory was inevitable. The defending Qatar Classic champ was in rhythm and ready to slay.

Rösner. Belief from Experience

But Simon Rösner had been here before. In June’s PSA World Series Finals, Simon and Karim split the first two games in their early-round, best of three clash. In the decider, Simon took it 11-7. His first win over Gawad.

On Tuesday night, he pulled from that experience, fueling a determination that he would overcome whatever the World #2 threw at him. Down 2-6 in the fourth, Rösner kept chopping. A tree is a tree is a tree…eventually it will fall. He leveled the game at 8-all; and in the end, scored his second consecutive victory over Gawad on a stroke call by the video referee. (FULL MATCH RECAP)

A huge win for the German, Simon Rösner is through to the Qatar Classic Quarterfinals for the second time, where he’ll face Marwan ElShorbagy.

Riding with the Germans

This is my first PSA World Tour experience…and it’s been extraordinary. The Qatar Tennis, Squash and Badminton Federation is top-shelf, as is the entire squash community. There’s genuine passion in this sport, untainted by buckets of corporate cash. The PSA Tour and its athletes deliver remarkable eye candy through action-packed, fast-paced competition with theatrical, gladiator-style presentation. It is a hell of a show, and deserves far greater exposure.

Every player I’ve met has been authentic, honest and real. In fact, the other night, Simon Rösner and I met briefly at the transportation desk after his first round win. We had a nice conversation about rauchbier and Deutschland (my wife and I visit family in Bamberg several times a year). When only one car arrived, he insisted that I take the first car and he would wait for the next. Excuse me?

Not to knock the tennis community, but this would never happen at a Grand Slam. I was floored.

Instead, we shared the ride and continued our conversation on the way to our seperate hotels.

Now, here’s a crazy coincidence: I told Simon that the last time I rode with a German athlete in Doha, he went on the following day to defeat the defending champion. At the 2015 Qatar ExxonMobil Open, I met Germany’s Michael Berrer for the first time in a shared ride to the tennis center…the next day, he upset Rafael Nadal in the biggest win of his career.

Listen, I’m certainly not taking credit for Simon Rösner’s win over Karim Abdel Gawad on Tuesday night. It’s just a nutty conincidence. But if there are any German athletes who rub rabbits’ feet or wash their hands exactly 7-times before competition…perhaps you should consider simply taking a ride with a loud, bearded, bald dude a day before battle. At the very least, you’ll have an entertaining conversation.