World No.1 Ali Farag is into the CIB Black Ball Squash Open second round after overcoming a tricky test in Spain’s Iker Pajares Bernabeu, who battles through injury in the latter stages of the contest.
The pair had never played before on the PSA World Tour, and the Spaniard changed up his usual game to play at a slower pace, taking Farag by surprise. He won it on a tie-break 13-11 to take the advantage, but it went downhill from there for the World No.32.
Farag allowed Pajares to score just three points in both the second and third games, with the Spaniard asking for a three minute self-inflicted injury break following the third to get some treatment on a calf problem.
He fought through the issue in the fourth, but it was the World No.1 that took the victory, winning out 3-1 to book his place in the second round of the tournament, where he will face compatriot Omar Mosaad.
“It felt good to win for sure, but at the beginning, I felt a bit subdued. He surprised me with his tactics. We have never played before and that is rare seeing as I have been on the tour six years now,” the World No.1 said.
“I watched a few matches including against Greg [Gaultier] in Qatar and [Karim Abdel] gawad at the TOC [Tournament of Champions] and he has never played that slow. He held the ball and played a lot of lobs. It wasn’t what I was planning so it caught me off-guard. All credit to him, but once I got into the groove, I think I took better control of the match.
“I come into every tournament trying to win. I have to take it match by match and next I have the giant Omar Mosaad. We share the same fitness trainer, who makes us work very hard. He had a great performance today so I know it will be tough.”
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) 3-1: 11-13, 11-3, 11-3, 11-7 (55m)