8:35 am
16 Jul 2024

Iker Ditches Diego In Dramatic Windy City Whirlwind

25 Feb 2022

Spain's world No.23 Iker Pajares Bernabeu claimed the biggest win of his career after claiming a huge upset over world No.6 Diego Elias. The dramatic 3/2 victory over the fifth-seeded Peruvian at the University Club of Chicago secured the Spaniard's place in the third round of the Windy City Open Presented by the Walter Family.

Pajares - who was last seen retiring from last week's Squash on Fire Open semis due to injury - found himself two games down against a dominant Elias, but he displayed grit and determination to haul himself back into the encounter.

The Spaniard held three match balls in the decider, only to see Elias rattle off three quick-fire winners to force a tie-break. Pajares was able to take the next point, and then a controversial decision from the referee saw him call Elias's retrieval as a double bounce to hand the win to Pajares. A frustrated Elias remonstrated with the referee, but his appeals fell on deaf ears as Pajares moved through to the last 16.

"I'm over the moon, it's the best win of my career," said Pajares afterwards.

"I wasn't expecting that, I've been in the US for three weeks and I woke up this morning with my body not feeling great and I was just thinking about home. I don't know what happened, I went 2/0 down then just carried on. I saw he started to get a little tired, so I pushed a bit more.

"At the end, it's just a fight, I was at 10-7 then he came back well and I think I was lucky to sneak another point to get another match ball. I don't know if the ball was double or not, it's not my decision to make, but overall I'm just very happy."

Pajares will play Cesar Salazar in the third round after the Mexican beat Hong Kong's Tsz Fung Yip in straight games.

Meanwhile, men's US No.1 Todd Harrity will appear in the third round of a PSA World Tour Platinum event for the first time in his career after the world No.35 recorded an 11-2, 9-11, 11-8, 13-11 victory over England's Declan James.

"It's my first time winning two matches at a major event like this and my first time in the last 16, so it's very exciting for me," said Harrity, who will play two-time runner-up Marwan Elshorbagy next.

"I've worked hard and it's finally paid off, and it's also my first time beating Declan. I think we've played a few times now and he's so skilful, so I'm very pleased with this win. There's no pressure on me going into the next round, all I want to do is play well and make the most out of the opportunity."

Defending champion Ali Farag got his title challenge underway with a 3/0 win against Germany's Raphael Kandra, while 2020 runner-up Paul Coll defeated former world No.1 James Willstrop in the final match of the day. Mohamed Elshorbagy - a winner in 2016 and 2018 - was also in action, with the Egyptian toppling Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet.

In the women's event, Belgium's Nele Gilis got the better of 2018 champion Nour El Tayeb in a gripping contest that saw her win 11-9, 11-6, 2-11, 8-11, 11-9 in 60 minutes.

World No.81 El Tayeb, playing just her third tournament since returning from a 14-month spell on the sidelines due to the birth of her daughter, almost mounted a magnificent comeback, but Gilis kept her focus to see off an incredibly dangerous opponent.

"It was a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions, you know she's still coming back from giving birth, and I have huge respect for her and how she's managed to come back so strongly," said Gilis.

"I came into the match with no pressure because I know she's still a top five in the world player, and I just wanted to give it my all. At 2/0 up, I then thought that I have a real chance of winning and then she came back like she did last week and came out firing in the third like she had nothing to lose."

Gilis will take on England's Georgina Kennedy next following Kennedy's 3/1 win over USA No.2 Olivia Fiechter.

USA No.1 Amanda Sobhy got her tournament underway as she recorded a routine 3/0 victory over Canada's Hollie Naughton. Sobhy will take on Wales' Tesni Evans after Evans came back from 2/0 down to beat Egypt's Hana Ramadan.

"I haven't played a major event since the US Open," said Sobhy.

"My last couple of results weren't the greatest, but I'm back and that's all that matters. I kept it, in true Sobhy fashion, 3/0 under the 30-minute mark. I'm excited to be back, I love this venue, I have great memories here and I hope to keep progressing."

Reigning champion Nour El Sherbini got off to a winning start against England's Julianne Courtice, while No.2 seed Nouran Gohar dispatched Canada's Danielle Letourneau.