Spainís Iker Pajares Bernabeu vanquished local hopes of having a
home winner after he downed Jan Koukal of the Czech Republic in the
final of the City of Prague Open, PSA M5 tournament to lift his
maiden PSA World Tour title.
Pajares secured his place in the final after a climactic 3-2 win
against Welshman Joel Makin in the semi-final, while Koukal, who is
the joint-third most successful active player on the PSA World Tour
with 33 titles to his name, recovered from a game down to dispatch
compatriot Petr Martin at the same stage in the Hamr Sports Club.
It was the Spaniard who started the better of the two as he romped
to a 5-2 lead, but a series of well-constructed rallies from Koukal
enabled the World No.130 to overturn that three-point gap. The
momentum then shifted back in Pajaresís favour, and the 20-year-old
took four points in a row to earn three game balls, which the World
No.112 converted at the second attempt to build up a one-game
Koukal had the lead for much of the second game, but a number of
uncharacteristic mistakes from the 32-year-old allowed Pajares to
take the game and double his lead, before Koukal clawed the third
back to send the match into a fourth game.
Pajares managed to get back on top as the match drew to its
conclusion after unsettling Koukalís rhythm, which forced the number
four seed to go for some ambitious shots in a bid to get back into
the fixture. Pajares remained patient and a composed finish to the
match from the up-and-coming Spaniard saw him close out the win with
an 11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 11-6 margin of victory to open his PSA World
Tour title account.
"Iíve finally won my first PSA title after a lot of defeats and hard
work," said Pajares.
"I am very happy to end the season with the victory. Itís such an
honour to beat Jan Koukal in his home town, he is a legend. Now itís
time to rest and enjoy the holidays.
"The environment here was amazing, and I had a lot of support from
my friends. I am very happy to win this title in this club because I
played my first junior international tournament here. Thanks to
[Tournament Promoter] Tomas [Forter] for such a good job with the
tournament. For sure, I will come again."
Koukal added: "It wasnít my day today. Iker played well, wanted the
win more than me, and that made the difference."
Home hope Petr Martin continued his impressive run in the City of
Prague Open, PSA M5 tournament after winning his first round match
against seventh seed Sean Conroy.
Martin was inspired form, with a number of intelligent shots, mixed
with his superb court craft, enabling him to dominate the íTí in an
enthralling contest. After going two games to the good, Martin
conceded the third, but was soon back on top to complete an 11-7,
11-5, 10-12, 11-5 win to move through to the next round.
Martinís reward is a quarter-final tie with second seed Sebastiaan
Weenink following the Dutchmanís win over Welsh qualifier David
ďIt was a very fair match,Ē said Martin.
ďI was a bit stronger than him and I played more volleys. At the
beginning of the third, he hit some good shots, got a good lead, and
I could not come back. But in 4th I got in front of him again and I
won the match.Ē
World No.232 Richard Williams caused the dayís other big upset after
he overcame a 67-place World Rankings gap to eliminate Sam Gould.
Williams will line up against number three seed Iker Pajares
Bernabeu in the quarter-final, with Pajares seeing off Miles Jenkins
Meanwhile, Daniel Mekbib of the Czech Republic triumphed on home
soil at the expense of Spainís Bernat Jaume to set up a
quarter-final clash with top seed Joel Makin, who downed wildcard
Another home favourite, Martin Svec, will compete in the last eight
courtesy of a victory against Ondrej Uherka, and the 21-year-old
will do battle with compatriot Jan Koukal, who along with three-time
World Champion Nick Matthew is the joint-third most successful
active player on the PSA World Tour with 33 titles to his name.