PSA Day One Roundup

El Hammamy upsets Pajares to reach Round Two

Egyptian wildcard Karim El Hammamy claimed his first PSA World Tour victory since May 2019 as he upset Spain’s Iker Pajares Bernabeu to book his place in round two of the CIB Egyptian Open, PSA Platinum tournament currently taking place in Egypt.

Held under strict COVID-19 protocols, the Egyptian Open will take place on a glass court in front of the iconic Great Pyramid of Giza from October 12-17. First and second round matches take place at the New Giza Sporting Club on ‘traditional’ plaster courts between October 10-11, with 32 matches played today.

El Hammamy is just one win away from a coveted place on the spectacular glass court after he battled to an 4-11, 11-5, 11-6, 16-14 victory after 92 minutes of intense action. The 24-year-old has struggled for form over the past 18 months – falling outside of the world’s top 50 to No.60 – but came up with a big performance when it mattered to vanquish World No.26 Pajares.

“It means a lot to me,” said El Hammamy.

“I missed playing, I missed winning. I was playing the World No.26, so I knew it was going to be a hard match, but for once I didn’t expect too much of myself, I didn’t put too much pressure on the win.

“I only have one thing to take care of now, only one thing to think of, it’s squash, I don’t study anymore. For the match, I had a game plan for each game, I had watched Iker play a lot and studied him. This means so much to me.”

El Hammamy will play Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller in the last 32, with Mueller beating the other men’s wildcard, Moustafa El Sirty, by a 3-1 scoreline.

Elsewhere in the men’s draw, USA’s World No.62 Todd Harrity scored an upset win over World No.19 Adrian Waller as he came back from 2-1 down to win 11-5, 6-11, 6-11, 11-2, 11-7

“I’m really happy,” said Harrity, who will play No.5 seed Diego Elias in the next round.

“I worked really hard, I’ve been in Egypt for the past two months, and it was a big change for me. It was a rich period of training, both on mental toughness and squash and I think that’s what got me through today. That mental toughness, I learned it from my matches here with the Egyptian players.”

Englishman Nathan Lake also claimed a fine 3-0 victory over the higher-ranked German Raphael Kandra, while his compatriot and World No.44 George Parker won a battle of Britain with World No.21 Greg Lobban.

Scotland’s Lisa Aitken caused the biggest upset in the inaugural women’s event, recovering from a bout of food poisoning to beat World No.19 Nada Abbas in a huge five-game battle.

30-year-old Aitken, World No.40, executed her game plan to perfection in the decider to complete an 7-11, 11-7, 11-7, 8-11, 11-4 victory which will see her line up against India’s Joshna Chinappa in the next round.

“I played Nada a couple of years ago and the score line was similar, 3-2,” said Aitken.

“I’m very happy with my determination. I got food poisoning for two days, and it would have been very easy to take that as an excuse to come out weak. But I knew that if I pushed myself, nothing bad would happen to me, so I’m happy with the way I pushed.”

Egypt’s Zeina Mickawy was also pushed to five games as she avoided a scare against 17-year-old wildcard Sana Ibrahim. It was only Ibrahim’s second PSA World Tour event but she impressed against Mickawy, only finally succumbing 11-4 in the fifth.

“It was a tough match for me, mentally,” said Mickawy.

“I’m very glad I got through it. I know how the young Egyptians are, they are hungry, they just want to win, no matter who they are playing. That’s what she did, she played very well, she was hungry and she didn’t stop trying.”

Meanwhile, USA’s World No.45 Haley Mendez upset World No.28 Julianne Courtice, while her compatriot Sabrina Sobhy defeated wildcard Salma Eltayeb.

Some of the world’s leading players – including defending men’s champion Karim Abdel Gawad and reigning women’s World Champion Nour El Sherbini get their tournaments under way tomorrow (October 11) in round two. Action will be shown live on SQUASHTV and the official YouTube and Facebook channels of the PSA World Tour.