The Pakistan International Squash Tournament came to its conclusion on Friday afternoon in Islamabad, with Tayyab Aslam and Madina Zafar reigning victorious at the Mushaf Squash Complex.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament was restricted to domestic entries, meaning that only players based in Pakistan were able to enter, for safety reasons.
Aslam claimed the 10th title of his professional career, with the last seven of those coming on home soil in Pakistan, and his second in the last three weeks, following a win at the BISL International Squash Championship in Quetta at the end of November.
After receiving a bye in the first round of the Challenger 10 level event, Aslam got through to the final relatively unscathed, dropping just a single game en route. He defeated Noor Zaman and Israr Ahmed in straight games, sandwiching a four-game win over Muhammad Farhan Hashmi.
Tayyab Aslam (fore) and Nasir Iqbal in action
The final was a completely different story though, as he had to come from 2-1 down to win the title, doing so the hard way. He came up against the unseeded Nasir Iqbal, who had already knocked out No.6 seed Danish Atlas Khan, No.2 seed Asim Khan and No.4 seed Amaad Fareed en route to the final.
The unseeded Iqbal held a 2-1 lead, but World No.43 Aslam was able to fight his way back into the contest, by winning the fourth on a tie-break 12-10. The fifth also went to a tie-break, with both players giving it their all. It was Aslam that came out on top, winning the decider 13-11 to claim the 10th title of his career.
The women’s final was a family affair, as Madina and Faiza Zafar went head-to-head for the title. The pair had met in three previous finals, all in the summer of 2018, with Faiza, the elder by two years, holding a 2-1 advantage.
This one saw Madina even the scores, as she took a five-game victory, but it could have been a lot easier for the 22-year-old, who currently sits at World No.106, four places lower than her older sister in the World Rankings.
Madina Zafar in action during the women's final
She led 2-0, and after taking the second game 11-1, it looked like the rest of the contest would be a formality. However, Faiza Zafar came back into it, winning both the third and fourth games in quick succession to send the match into a deciding fifth game.
It was Madina that came out on top, winning the fifth 11-9, with the five games completed in a rapid 31 minutes. The 22-year-old takes the second title of her fledgling career, and her first in two years, following a win at the SNGPL Pakistan International Squash Circuit II in 2018.
Result – Men’s Final: Pakistan International Squash Tournament
 Tayyab Aslam (PAK) bt Nasir Iqbal (PAK) 3-2: 11-7, 6-11, 3-11, 12-10, 13-11 (68m)
Result – Women’s Final: Pakistan International Squash Tournament
 Madina Zafar (PAK) bt  Faiza Zafar (PAK) 3-2: 11-8, 11-1, 2-11, 7-11, 11-9 (31m)