R3: Fresh Iker takes Tarek out

Iker Pajares (Esp) 3-1 [7] Tarek Momen (Egy)  8-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8 (63m)

Well, to be honest, read my report about the first match, Tesni against Nour. Change the names. There you have it.

An absolute monstrous Iker today was able to redrop and nullify Tarek’s superb squash today. I know that yesterday, he was looking forward to playing Tarek “fresh”. And fresh he was. Tarek, having a few health issues, gave it all yesterday and today, after a long season, was probably not as fresh mentally (and physically) to be able to match the incredible squash that was coming from the Spanish racquet.

Tarek was in charge in the first game, 5/2, but three errors in a row and we are back 5/5, 6/6, 8/8. A nice push from Tarek, Iker rushing a bit his shots and it’s 11/8 in 12m for the Momenator.

In the second, it was always Iker in front scorewise, except one rally, 7/6, led by Tarek. Tarek was constantly on the backfoot, making superb attacks and volley drops from all over the court, but it was just never enough, and Iker was finding solution to every problem. 6/6, 7/7, 8/8, 11/8 to Iker, 6 winners for the Spanish, and only 5 for Tarek.

The third saw again a complete score domination by Iker, 4/1, 7/3, 8/4. A superb come back from Tarek, digging in as deep as he could 7/8, instilling a nice change of pace, taking the weight off the ball.

Game ball to Iker, 10/8. Saved 9/10. A bit of “luck” for a tired (quite logically) Spaniard at that point, a broken string and although he went as quickly as possible, it was the breather he needed to be that little fresher at the end of a long 15m game where he ran and ran and ran an awful lot. 11/9, 9 winners for Iker, only 5 for the Egyptian.

The 4th, Tarek will try and contain a flying Spaniard, but it’s 4/1, 9/4, 10/5 match ball. Tarek, as usual, kept believing in his chances, and fought, hard, with all the energy he didn’t have, but finally bows 11/8 in 16m.

What a day… Two seeds down, and it’s not even 3pm…

Iker :  I can’t believe it! It’s been a very long season for all of us, but especially for the top guys in the top 10. They play so many tournaments – probably more than 16 each which is a lot.

I knew it would be tough today – I’ve played Tarek so many times but today I felt different on court. I felt sharper and I saw his body language was gone and he was mentally very tired, so I kept fighting very hard and I managed to do it in four games. I still can’t believe it!

It’s the seventh time I’ve played him on tour and the previous six times he’s chopped me 3-0 in 30/40 minutes! It feels very good – I’ve worked very hard this season, so many ups and downs. But I’m really enjoying my squash and I feel like I’m playing my best squash ever right now. I want to enjoy this last tournament of the season.

I have a rest day tomorrow so I will try to recover as much as possible and have a small hit on the glass court. It’s going to be pretty tough conditions.