Iker Pajares Bernabeu reaches Squash On Fire Open semi-finals

February 23 2023

Iker Pajares Bernabeu produced a typically skilful & battling performance against Victor Crouin of France before eventually being denied by the top seed 12-10 11-4 11-6 in a high-quality & entertaining semi-final of the PSA Squash On Fire Open in Washington D.C.

Victor Crouin, the World No.10 from France, needed to be at his very best to overcome the challenge of an equally determined Iker Pajares Bernabeu.

Nothing could separate the two players in the early rallies with Iker Pajares taking every opportunity to increase the tempo to the delight of the capacity crowd at the sate-of-the-art Squash On Fire facility. The relentless fast pace continued throughout the first game which culminated in a closely fought tie-break after the top seeded Frenchman saved a game ball before eventually winning the game 12-10.

Crouin produced near-faultless squash in the second game which include a run of six consecutive points to halt the momentum that Pajares had established earlier in the march.

The World No.10 continued his form into the third game, winning the first four points to hold a decisive advantage. The Spanish No.1 fought back bravely, but Crouin was able to eventually close-out the match to secure a straight games victory to advance to his sixth PSA World Tour final of the season.

PSA Squash On Fire Open 2023, Squash On Fire, Washington DC, USA
[1] Victor Crouin (FRA) bt [8] Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) 12-10 11-4 11-6

Iker Pajares Bernabeu produced a stunning 69-minute 11-4 11-9 4-11 9-11 11-5 victory over Tsz Kwan Lau of Hong Kong at the PSA Squash On Fire Open to progress to the semi-finals where he will meet top seed Victor Crouin of France.

The 3-time Spanish Champion was in the ascendancy from the opening rally in the 1st game to deny his talented Hong Kong opponent any rhythm or momentum & showed his class & determination to win the game take it 11-4.

The inform Lau, with a PSA World Ranking of No.50, fought back in the second game to establish a narrow lead in the second game by forcing the Spanish No.1 to move to all four corners. However, with the score level at 8-8, Iker Pajares Bernabeu won two quick points to wrestle back the momentum which saw him claim the game 11-9 to double his advantage.

Lau came out firing in the third game to win six of the opening seven rallies which saw him win the game 11-4 which prompted Iker to request a new ball prior to the start of the fourth game.

The momentum stayed with the young Hong Kong player in the fourth game, despite Iker managing to claw his way back to 7-7, but Lau wasn’t to be denied & levelled the contest to force a deciding game by claiming the game 11-9.

The 3-time Spanish Champion showed all of his fighting qualities in the final game which he won 11-5 to register a wonderful & much deserved 69-minute victory.

“I am so happy to win that match in five games! I knew the first two games were very, very important. I was fast at the beginning, so I took the first two games but then I got tired,” admitted the Spanish No.1.

“He plays a lot in the front, so many drop shots & then so many lobs. I needed to jump to volley them & then move to the front, & then again & again & again which made it very tough!”

Moustafa Elsirty took the game to top seed Victor Crouin in a hard-fought quarter-final at the PSA Squash On Fire Open in Washington DC before the Frenchman was able to eventually overcome the young Egyptian 11-11-9 11-9 in 52-minutes.

The French top seed got the better of his young Egyptian rival in a fraught three-game contest, which featured injury breaks, an abundance of refereeing decisions & flashes of brilliance from both players.

Crouin established an early lead in the opening game, winning eight of the opening ten points which allowed the Frenchman to cruise through the rest of the game, despite a Moustafa Elsirty rear-guard which saw him hit a succession of winners in the closing rallies.

The scores were level at 3-3 in the second game, when a tangle of legs saw Elsirty go down with an ankle injury which required over 15 minutes of off-court treatment. Moustafa returned to the court with the vocal support from a capacity crowd, but it was Crouin who was able to take advantage of the colder ball by firing in some quick drop shots to establish an 8-4 lead. Elsirty countered with three consecutive points, but the Frenchman eventually took a two-game lead by closing-out the game 11-9.

Moustafa started the third game strongly, but a succession of unforced in the middle of the game allowed the top seed to fight his way level. Nothing could separate the two throughout the third game until the very end, as the Frenchman hit a couple of great winners to move to 10-8 with two match balls. Moustafa saved the first match ball, but Crouin took the second to secure victory & progress to the semi-finals.

PSA Squash On Fire Open 2023, Squash On Fire, Washington DC, USA
[8] Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) bt Tsz Kwan Lau (HKG) 11-4 11-9 4-11 9-11 11-5
[1] Victor Crouin (FRA) bt [6] Moustafa El Sirty (EGY) 11-7 11-9 11-9

3-time Spanish Champion Iker Pajares Bernabeu progressed to the quarter-finals of the PSA Squash On Fire Open with an impressive & hard-fought 57-minute 9-11 11-6 11-5 11-9 win over Portugal No.1 Rui Soares.

Moustafa Elsirty progressed to the quarter-finals of the PSA Squash On Fire Open with a commanding 11-5 11-6 11-7 victory over fellow Egyptian Yahya Elnawasany at the state-of-the-art Squash On Fire venue in Washington DC, USA.

PSA Squash On Fire Open 2023, Squash On Fire, Washington DC, USA
2nd Round:
[6] Moustafa El Sirty (EGY) bt. [9/16] Yahya Elnawasany (EGY) 11-5 11-6 11-7

James Willstrop was in true ‘showman’ mode in the 1st round of the PSA Squash On Fire Open being staged in Washington DC, USA as he beat wildcard Timothy Lasusa 11-5 11-3 11-6 in just 25 minutes to progress to the 2nd round where he will face 4th seed Omar Mosaad of Egypt.

“That was a lot of fun,” said Willstrop. “He had some nice skills & we had a couple of nice exchanges down the right, with a few holds. It was a good match to have & good to be out there again.”

The Englishman joins Iker Pajares Bernabeu of Spain & Moustafa Elsirty of Egypt in the 2nd round staged at the impressive Squash On Fire complex.

3-time Spanish Champion Iker Pajares Bernabeu will face Portugal No.1 Rui Soares whilst Moustafa Elsirty will play compatriot Yahya Elnawasany.

FREE 2nd coverage of the 2nd round will be shown live on www.psaworldtour.com

PSA Squash On Fire Open 2023, Squash On Fire, Washington DC, USA
1st Round:
James Willstrop (ENG) bt [WC] Timothy Lasusa (USA) 11-5 11-3 11-6

2nd Round Draw:
[6] Moustafa El Sirty (EGY) v [9/16] Yahya Elnawasany (EGY)
[8] Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) v Rui Soares (POR)
[9/16] James Willstrop (ENG) v [4] Omar Mosaad (EGY)

The Squash On Fire Open 2023 gets underway in Washington D.C, USA from the 22nd February & will feature UNSQUASHABLE players James Willstrop, Iker Pajares Bernabeu & Moustafa Elsirty.

James Willstrop, who reached the quarter-finals of last year’s event, will take on wildcard Timothy Lasusa of the USA in the 1st round, whilst Spanish No.1 Iker Pajares Bernabeu, a semi-finalist last year, & Moustafa Elsirty of Egypt have both received first round byes.

FREE coverage of the opening day matches will be shown live on www.psaworldtour.com with the later rounds & finals streamed live on SQUASHTV.