Karim Darwish (Egy) bt  Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
11/9, 11/5, 3/11, 11/8 (52m)
Darwish takes it all ...
Karim Darwish and Gregory Gaultier have been meeting since their
junior days, in British Junior Open and World Junior
Championship finals, and on the professional tour since, but
there was a lot riding on this match, the biggest-ever payday in
was the Frenchman who started the better, losing the first two
points but taking the next five to establish a handy lead. The
play was solid to this point, both players feeling their way
into the match, both happy to engage in patient rallies.
But Gaultier paid for some uncharacteristic unforced errors,
four of them coming after he led 6/5, although he still looked
calm and settled.
Darwish took full advantage, reaching 10/7
with a short kill, and finished the game off with a precise
volley drop after 14 minutes.
The second started in a similar vein, level to 4-all,but from
the midpoint the Egyptian became more confident, stated taking
the ball short and forged ahead with a series of winners,
doubling his lead in 11 minutes.
If Gaultier looked a little flat at the end of the second, he
was dynamic at the start of the third, racing to a quick lead
which Darwish wasn't inclined to chase down as Gaultier halved
the deficit in just 5 minutes.
was never going to continue like that, and sure enough it
didn't. The fourth was the longest game of the match at 16
minutes, and it was level pegging all the way to 7-all. The
crowd were going wild on every Darwish point.
At 8-all they played six lets, then Darwish broke the deadlock
with a long dropshot. Cue roars. Gaultier hits a loose ball,
Darwish hammers it away to the back to reach matchball ... the
roof starts to tremble. A few shots, Darwish hits the ball deep,
Gaultier mishits it into the floor ... bedlam ...
A wonderful finish for Darwish, and a fitting one considering
he'll be number one in January.
If you remember that he was
seeded seven, based on the October rankings, it underlines what
a spectacular three months he's had, and he's definitely going
to have a happy new year ..
"This is the greatest moment of my career, I've been working
really hard all my life to reach this moment, thank god I should
do it in this, the richest tournament ever and in front of a
crowd like this.
"The crowd were unbelievable in their support, I was almost in
tears even before we went on the way they were chanting my name
and making so much noise.
"I was a bit up and down in the first but I managed to come back
and win it at the end. I had to refocus and come out stronger
for the second, I couldn't afford to give him anything loose,
especially on a cool court, I had to play deep to the back.
"I lost concentration in the third, I wasn't playing deep
enough, but the fourth was so close, point for point and so
tense at the end.
"It's a fantastic moment for me, such a great feeling. Thanks to
my family who have been supporting me all my life, my mum and
dad, my brother and now my wife, and to my coach Amir Wagih ..."
to Karim, on reaching number one and for the match today, it was
a tough game but he's a worthy winner.
"Thanks to everyone who supported me this week, I know you
weren't supporting me today but I still enjoyed playing in front
of such a big and noisy crowd!