R2 : Men’s Opening Matches

Wins for Iker Pajares, Miguel Rodriguez, Karim El Hammamy and Zahed Salem to open Men’s Round Two …

Karim El Hammamy (Egy) 3-2 Greg Lobban (Sco) 9-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-2, 11-5 (77m)
[9/16] Zahed Salem (Egy) 3-0 Cesar Salazar (Mex) 11-6, 14-12, 11-6 (34m)
[9/16] Miguel Rodriguez (Col) 3-1 Arturo Salazar (Mex) 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6 (39m)
Iker Pajares (Esp) 3-1 Todd Harrity (Usa) 11-9, 12-10, 14-12 (61m)

A very trimmed looking Zahed was on court today. I thought it was because he was training hard but actually, it’s more of a case of COVID follow up plus Military duties that prevent him from training! Today was a very good win against Cesar who had nothing to lose and very hungry for playing more matches without pressure.

Zahed : I have some military issues, they won’t let me play matches or train properly at the moment, I can’t travel. And also before El Gouna, I had troubles to train, as I had COVID, and also like an infection due to the COVID.

So I’m back again trying to push and I’m feeling fine again. But I have a lot of things in my mind at the moment, and I’m not able to play or train. So I don’t know how I am squashwise. I’m trying to take it match by match, and today, after 4 months with no tournaments, I did well I thought.

I wanted to give it all to win in three, and that’s why I didn’t want to let go of the second, because I know him well, I played him 3 times, and I knew how tough it would be if we were going to 5.

I don’t have a rest day tomorrow, I’m playing on the backcourt again, I’m happy not to have a rest day as it wasn’t as hard as it could have been. Now, recover, eat well, and focus on tomorrow’s.

Iker : It was very intense, I had to push very hard in every game. I knew I had to fight in every single game. Yesterday, I had a tough match and my legs were very tired, very sore. I had to win in three, maybe 4, but I have to fight every game.

I was fine physically, breathing was fine, cardio was fine, it was just the legs, but I was moving fine at the beginning. I train a lot, for this kind of events, so it’s not about the body, it’s about the mind. So I was thinking point by point, point by point.

Pyramids tomorrow. It’s like Karma rewarding me after what happened in Hull where I was taken out of the event because of a “ping” alert on my incoming flight. My first time. Karma is paying off. It’s a good reward, over the moon, so so happy. Especially as I broke up with my girlfriend just before the British, and then what happened there, so I’m super happy to win here, to be through.

Karim : Greg is very physical. He’s got a very good physic, very athletic, he get back as many balls as he wants so I had to keep going and not tin. I don’t know why in this tournament I just keep hitting the tin. I don’t know what’s happening to me: my hand is going to the tin.

Today I had to volley as much as I could, because if we keep playing at the back, he would win 100%. So I had to volley, I had to go short, be brave, even if I hit one or two shots but I had to take the initiative.

I’m happy because the third game I was up 7/3 and I lost the game in a single hand, and it was so much harder to be 2/1 down than 2/1 up. And I told myself I need to continue the match, I am not going to shake hands. And it’s tough mentally because I was 4/0 down in the H2H. So the first win, it keeps plays on your mind. And even when I was up in the 5th, 10/5 up, I was like on the ropes.

Tomorrow, it’s my first time on the glass, I was looking forward to it last year but I played 92m against Iker here, then I just folded the match against Nicky because I was so excited and I wanted to win too fast.

Last year, I was very nervous about playing on the glass, so this year, I just didn’t think about it at all. But now, I’m thinking about it! I don’t know what to expect, I won’t have a chance to train on the court, so my first time will be tomorrow in the match, I don’t want to wake up at 7 to go and go there. But now, I’m going to have fun: I did a good job in the first two rounds, and now, it’s time to have fun.