2021 Platinum Reports REPORTS

R2: Mazen saved a marathon as Iker retires

R2: [9/16] Mazen Hesham (Egy) 3-1 Iker Pajares (Esp) 11-9, 13-15, 11-6, 5-0 rtd (57m)

Mazen Hesham reaches the last sixteen as Iker Pajares retires injured in what could have been a marathon.

The biggest compliment the squash Tour can make to Iker is that we had about the whole of Mazen’s team watching the match at 11am. In Cairo. They knew it was NOT going to be easy.

And it wasn’t. Although Iker played 98m against ShahJahan in the first round that was 2 days ago, and Iker was physically fine. Well, almost. On his left knee, a heavy strapping…

Still, Iker was able to impose his style of squash for 2 games, medium pace, lovely constructed and patient squash, long rallies, forcing a few errors from Mazen.

First game, Mazen up 4/1, 4/4, 6/6 and finding some lovely shots at the end of very long attritional rallies, 10/7, 11/8 in 16m.

The second is about the same, just closer, longer, and more dramatic! 2/2, 4/4, 5/5, with Iker dominating this one it seems, 8/5, 9/7. A huge push from the Egyptian, straight to 10/9, then 11/10, then 12/11. Nothing worked. It’s the Spanish finally on his 2nd game ball, 15/13 in 25m!

The third is a more typical Mazen game, incredibly fast pace, a winner, a tin – I summarise… 11/6 in 7m. And the knee giving up on Iker, having to stop in the 4th…

Mazen : “You never want to win a match when the other player is injured, it’s not a nice way to win.

“I wish him a speedy recovery. I hope he can keep playing the next few tournaments because I know how bad it is to be an injured player. This is the first time I’ve played Iker, he is very tricky and you never know what you’re going to get from him and he is a fighter as well.

“It was really tough mentally as well as it was physically for me. I had a bit of shin splints but I think it was better as soon as Derek [Ryan, PSA Physio] started putting some heat on it. I was struggling in the first two games a little bit myself, but I think with the amount of matches I have played through injury I know how to play these matches.”