Youssef Soliman wins 2024 Squash On Fire Open

February 17 2024

Youssef Soliman overcame Iker Pajares Bernabeu 11-5 11-4 10-12 11-3 in the final of the 2024 Squash On Fire Open to claim his 10th PSA Word Tour title. The Egyptian No.2 seed produced a composed performance to end the giant killing run of the Spanish No.1 who in the semi-finals defeated the top speed and defending champion Victor Crouin in 89-minutes.

Despite the valiant efforts from the 4-time Spanish Champion, who managed to snatch the third game in a tie-break after Youssef Soliman squandered three match balls, the Egyptian, who had spent an hour less time on court than his opponent on his way to the final, maintained relentless pressure throughout the 55-minute encounter to test the Spaniard’s physical reserves on the all-glass show court at the Squash On Fire Club and close-out an impressive victory.

Professional Squash Association (PSA) Men's Squash On Fire Open 2024, Squash On Fire, Washington DC, USA
[2] Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt [3] Iker Pajares (ESP) 11-5, 11-4, 10-12, 11-3 (55m)

Iker Pajares Bernabeu produced a stunning 89-minute 11-5 5-11 8-11 12-10 14-12 upset against top seed Victor Crouin of France at the Squash On Fire Open in Washington DC to set-up a final showdown with 2nd seed Youssef Soliman who overcame compatriot Youssef Ibrahim 11-5 11-7 9-11 11-9 in another highly entertaining semi-final.

Spanish No.1 Iker Pajares Bernabeu showed unwavering resolve as he overcame top seed Victor Crouin in a captivating 89-minute encounter, showing remarkable tenacity to save two match points in a nail-biting fifth-game tie-break before clinching a hard-fought victory.

Asserting his dominance from the start, the four-time Spanish Champion sought to dictate the play with fast-paced precision and impeccable shot placement which forced Victor Crouin into defensive positions. Despite the French No.1's valiant efforts, a series of unforced errors aided Iker Pajares Bernabeu to claim the first game convincingly 11-5.

Undeterred, Victor Crouin mounted a spirited comeback in the second game, showing improved accuracy and capitalising on loose shots from his opponent to draw level after 19 minutes of intense play. The defending champion surged ahead, seizing the third game and establishing his first lead of the match with a remarkable six-point streak from 8-5 down.

Refusing to yield, Iker Pajares Bernabeu maintained relentless pressure in the fourth game, seizing an 11-10 advantage with aggressive play. A stunning dive followed by a backhand winner breathed new life into the match as the fourth seeded Spaniard forced a decisive fifth game.

The see-saw battle intensified in the final game, with Iker Pajares Bernabeu unleashing a barrage of attacking shots while Victor Crouin surged ahead with six consecutive points. The exchange of brutal rallies left both players visibly fatigued, yet unwavering in their determination.

Victor Crouin held match points at 10-9 and 11-10, however Iker Pajares Bernabeu showed nerves of steel, producing sublime winners to stave off defeat and in a dramatic conclusion, secured victory with a perfectly executed straight backhand drive that eluded the defending champion's reach.

The victory stands as a testament to the Spanish No.1’s resilience and skill, setting the stage for what promises to be an electrifying final showdown against Egypt's Youssef Soliman.

The all-Egyptian semi-final between Youssef Soliman and Youssef Ibrahim was well fought throughout, as was the case when the pair contested a five-game thriller at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions earlier this year, before the more the consistent lines and clever use of height on the front wall proved decisive in securing an 11-5 11-7 9-11 11-9 victory for the 27-year-old Soliman.

Professional Squash Association (PSA) Men's Squash On Fire Open 2024, Squash On Fire, Washington DC, USA
[3] Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) bt [1] Victor Crouin (FRA) 11-5, 5-11, 8-11, 12-10, 14-12 (89m)
[2] Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt [4] Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) 11-5, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9 (65m)

An action packed quarter-finals day at the Squash On Fire Open 202 witnessed all top four seeds, Victor Crouin, Youssef Soliman, Iker Pajares Bernabeu and Youssef Ibrahim, progress to their predicted semi-final places in Washington DC, USA.

Fourth seed Youssef Ibrahim, continued his impressive form by securing a second consecutive PSA World Tour semi-final berth, engaging in a captivating encounter against the No.5 seed, Greg Lobban of Scotland.

In a contest brimming with ingenuity, Youssef Ibrahim surged ahead with a commanding 7-3 lead in the opening game. However, Greg Lobban mounted a spirited comeback, displaying remarkable squash skills to snatch the opening game 11-9.

Both players sought to dominate the front corners, resulting in a match characterised by frequent interruptions, rather than protracted rallies extending into the deep recesses of the court. Capitalising on this dynamic, Youssef Ibrahim levelled the match by taking the second game 11-5, and relishing the introduction of a new ball, requested by his opponent in the subsequent game, immediately seized a 2-1 lead. Thereafter, the Egyptian capitalised on an early advantage in the fourth game, firmly maintaining his grip on the match and ultimately clinching a well-deserved victory.

In the semi-finals, Youssef Ibrahim will face compatriot Youssef Soliman after the No.2 seed, halted the impressive run of local favourite Todd Harrity in four closely contested games.

Despite conceding a tight 12-10 opener, characterised by gruelling, physically demanding rallies, Youssef Soliman showed commendable composure to engineer a remarkable turnaround. The World No.12, fresh from a semi-final appearance at the Pittsburgh Squash Open, asserted his dominance by claiming the subsequent three games 11-9 11-5 11-4 to win the 53-minute contest.

Defending champion Victor Crouin, delivered a masterful performance to dispatch the No.6 seed, Saurav Ghosal of Indi in straight games, with a commanding 11-6 11-3 11-5 victory.

Victor Crouin, who defeated Mohamed ElSherbini to clinch the title last year, showed impeccable form from the outset, consistently finding deep lengths into the corners before deftly executing short shots with lethal precision to win in just 26 minutes.

In the final match of the evening, the No.3 seed, Iker Pajares Bernabeu fended off a determined effort from the No.8 seed Nathan Lake of England in a pulsating five-game battle.

The Spaniard started the match by playing at a blistering pace, manoeuvring his opponent across the court and capitalising on opportunities to attack the front corners. Despite a spirited fightback from Nathan Lake, Iker Pajares Bernabeu secured the opening two games, however was unable to stop the momentum shifting dramatically in the third as Nathan Lake found his rhythm, launching a barrage of winners to claw back into contention.

With the match evenly poised, Iker Pajares Bernabeu weathered the storm, thwarting his opponent’s advances to clinch a five-game victory after 54 minutes of intense competition.

Professional Squash Association (PSA) Men's Squash On Fire Open 2024, Squash On Fire, Washington DC, USA
[1] Victor Crouin (FRA) bt [6] Saurav Ghosal (IND) 11-6, 11-3, 11-5 (26m)
[3] Iker Pajares (ESP) bt [8] Nathan Lake (ENG) 11-7, 11-7, 3-11, 8-11, 11-4 (54m)
[4] Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) bt [5] Greg Lobban (SCO) 9-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-5 (45m)
[2] Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt [9/16] Todd Harrity (USA) 10-12, 11-9, 11-5, 11-4 (53m)

Professional Squash Association (PSA) Men's Squash On Fire Open 2024, Squash On Fire, Washington DC, USA
2nd Round:
[1] Victor Crouin (FRA) bt Ben Smith (ENG) 11-5, 11-1, 11-1 (28m)
[6] Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Spencer Lovejoy (USA) 4-11, 11-8, 11-4, 13-11 (58m)
[8] Nathan Lake (ENG) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 13-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-6 (44m)
[3] Iker Pajares (ESP) bt [9/16] Bernat Jaume (ESP) 11-2, 11-13, 12-10, 11-9 (68m
[4] Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) bt [9/16] Lucas Serme (FRA) 11-7, 11-9, 11-8 (33m)
[5] Greg Lobban (SCO) bt [9/16] Yannick Wilhelmi (SUI) 11-9, 6-11, 3-11, 11-7, 13-11 (77m)
[9/16] Todd Harrity (USA) bt [7] Omar Mosaad (EGY) 11-7, 11-3, 11-4 (29m)
[2] Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt [9/16] Velavan Senthilkumar (IND) 11-6, 11-8, 11-2 (33m)

Professional Squash Association (PSA) Men's Squash On Fire Open 2024, Squash On Fire, Washington DC, USA
1st Round:
[1] Victor Crouin (FRA) bye
Ben Smith (ENG) bt [9/16] Leonel Cardenas (MEX) 11-9, 11-7, 6-11, 11-7 (46m)
Spencer Lovejoy (USA) bt [9/16] Addeen Idrakie (MAS) 7-11, 6-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-3 (70m)
[6] Saurav Ghosal (IND) bye
[8] Nathan Lake (ENG) bye
James Willstrop (ENG) bt [9/16] Rui Soares (POR) 11-5, 5-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-9 (54m)
[9/16] Bernat Jaume (ESP) bt Tom Walsh (ENG) 9-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-8 (56m)
[3] Iker Pajares (ESP) bye
[4] Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) bye
[9/16] Lucas Serme (FRA) bt [WC] Muhammad Asim Khan (PAK) 8-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-3 (43m)
[9/16] Yannick Wilhelmi (SUI) bt Tayyab Aslam (PAK) 15-13, 11-5, 11-5 (32m)
[5] Greg Lobban (SCO) bye
[7] Omar Mosaad (EGY) bye
[9/16] Todd Harrity (USA) bt Daniel Poleshchuk (ISR) 7-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-1, 11-8 (51m)
[9/16] Velavan Senthilkumar (IND) bt [WC] Mark Broekman (ENG) 11-4, 11-4, 11-2 (22m)
[2] Youssef Soliman (EGY) bye