R1 : Men’s second set

Egyptians Karim El Hammamy and Youssef Soliman advance, Iker Pajares squeezes through, Shahjahan Khan in three

Karim El Hammamy (Egy) 3-1 Christopher Binnie (Jam) 9-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-2 (65m)
Shahjahan Khan (Usa) 3-0 Mazen Gamal (Egy) 11-7, 12-10, 11-6 (39m)
Iker Pajares (Esp) 3-2 Tsz Kwan Lau (Hkg) 11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 11-13, 12-10 (74m)
Youssef Soliman (Egy) 3-2 Auguste Dussourd (Fra) 6-11, 4-11, 11-1, 11-3, 11-8 (74m)

Shah : Alhamdulillah, I felt good and confident today. Coming to this tournament, I have been preparing myself, more mentally than physically, because if physically I was already there, I was a bit shaky mentally. But now, I’m very positive, I’m in a good mindset.

A quick thank you to my coach ZarakJahan Khan and also my preparator Bader Khan – he is based in London: he helps me with my mental, with my strategy, and he also has a good knowledge of squash.

Normally I struggle when the matches are stop and start with a lot of stoppages, but today, I had a good mindset to it, I was ready, and it didn’t affect the final result.

Iker : Trust me, I don’t like those “short matches”!!! I was 2 match balls down, I had also a match ball in the third I think…

To be honest, I was not expecting such a performance from him. It was the first time playing him. He’s got a very unorthodox game, he drops a lot, then lobs it. You’ve got to do a lot of jumping and bending all the time. It was a lot of work.

I had to push to the limit. I knew I was not at my best after being forced to pull out from the British, I had a small injury in my foot again.

I was 2/0 up, controlling the game, feeling very good, and then everything changed. He started to play that tricky game, drop lob, drop lob, and he got me. I was very tired, and I had to push very very hard mentally.

Very happy to save two match points, and to make it to the next round…

Karim : A bad start, a little bit about me I feel. The whole match, I couldn’t find my shots from the middle. I played well at the back, I could create chances, I got some openings, but I never felt the ball well on the volley and till the end of the match I kept finding the tin.

So I decided to change my tactic and if I was going to the front, it would be high and glued to the wall!

He was volleying a lot, he is a big guy, I could get him behind me, and create shots but today, my problem was the finishing, I just couldn’t feel it.

I’m playing Greg Lobban tomorrow, I’m down 4/0 to him. All I know, I’m going to have to be 100% more more sharper than today!!

Youssef : Today I am not happy with my game at all.

You know when you get to a match and you feel you are playing a practice match and not in a tournament. That’s how I felt today.

I was hitting tins in the first game, and in the second, I was 8/0 down. I kept saying to myself, what’s going on. I was struggling to get into the match.

When I found myself at 2/0 down I said ‘alright, here we go” and I just kept hitting the ball hard, trying to get into it. That’s part of the tournament sometimes to try and just find a way. I kept grinding, grinding, and eventually, it worked.

I think he took his chances today, all credit to him. He kept attacking, using his forehand kills and drops, smacking them, I wasn’t ready for it, and he kept playing them. So I had to adapt my game not to expose my movement.

Tomorrow, Tarek is waiting. I played him twice, I lost 3/1, I got close in Chicago, I thought I played well. I feel like my body is alright… Well I wanted to get into the mindset of the tournament, and that match sure did just that!