May 31, 2017, DUBAI UAE: Egyptian World No.1 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, June 6-10.
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 No.1 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 No.1 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 battle it out for a share of the $160,000 prize fund.
The tournament features a unique best of three games format throughout the group stages as players fight for a place in the knock-out semi-finals and ultimately the finals, 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 group stage matches will take place at 3:00pm, 3:45pm, 16:45pm and 17:30pm (Group A) and 21:30pm, 22:15pm, 23:15pm and 00:00am (Group B) between June 6-8 with the semi-finals due to take place from 22:00pm on June 9. The finals will commence at 22:00pm local time on June 10.
Organisers have announced that families will have free entry to the 3pm session on June 6-8.