Egypt’s former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad was forced to dig deep as he came from a game down against Spain’s World No.31 Iker Pajares Bernabeu in round two of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions.
The two players had never faced each other before and it was Pajares who commanded the start of the match as he took full advantage of an out of sorts Gawad to power to an 11-3 lead in the first game.
A Jekyll and Hyde performance from the Egyptian saw him come back strongly in the second to turn the tables on the Spaniard, before a close third game also went in favour of Gawad on the tie-break, despite Pajares holding a game ball advantage.
Brilliant from Iker Pajares Bernabeu!
First the dive, then the finish
He is testing
karimabdelgawad</a> here in NYC <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ToC20?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ToC20</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ToCSquash?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ToCSquash</a> <a href="https://t.co/OtWyYYmZxh">pic.twitter.com/OtWyYYmZxh</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) January 11, 2020
Fatigue began to set in for the World No.31 in the fourth as Gawad utilised his experience and maximised his effort to close out a hard fought 3-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-6 victory, despite a strong showing from Pajares on his debut appearance at the Platinum event in New York.
Gawad will meet either England’s Declan James or Hong Kong’s Tsz Fung Yip in the third round.
“Iker played extremely well today,” said 28-year-old Gawad afterwards.
“Today was one of my worst matches in my career, I didn’t find my rhythm or a good balance in the back or front. I was too slow today and I was really outplayed by Iker. I just tried to use my experience and push mentally more than anything else.
“Iker played some really good squash, it is our first time playing together and I couldn’t read him at all from the front or middle. I gave him a lot of winners today and it was very well played from him. He’s still 23 years old and doing great, so I think he will do much better in the coming seasons.
“Today was all about effort from me, after the first game I said to myself that I can’t have another slow start, so I just wanted to push as hard as I could. I just wanted to keep the lead, so it was all about effort today for me.”
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) 3-1: 3-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-6 (44m)