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22 Apr 2024

Pajares Survives Brownell Test On Day One At US Open

9 Oct 2022

Spain's world No.26 Iker Pajares Bernabeu came back from two match balls down to avoid an upset against wildcard Timothy Brownell in the US Open in Philadelphia as the PSA World Tour Platinum event got underway at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center.

Philadelphia-based Brownell was cheered on to the rafters by his home fans and almost sent them home happy after some fabulous squash saw him come back from 2/1 down to level the scores, before he stormed to an 8-2 lead in the decider.

He was initially able to repel a late fightback from the Spaniard to build up two match ball opportunities, but Pajares kept his composure to take four points on the spin as he sealed an 11-9, 9-11, 11-3, 6-11, 13-11 victory after 93 minutes.

"I'm over the moon with this win," said Pajares, who will take on three-time US Open champion Mohamed Elshorbagy next.

"After being 8-2 down in the fifth, I saw myself going home. I kept fighting to 8-8 and then it was 10-8 and I came back again to take the match. It was a fair and clean match, he's a good player and I enjoyed every minute on court.

"I've been injured for three or four months and having these matches again is something I was missing very much. I totally forgot about [the crowd], I was focusing on myself and trying to take each point. It was very tough, but I also had good friends supporting me here and I was looking at them after every point."

The only American man who claimed a day one victory was world No.39 Todd Harrity, who won an all-American battle with Spencer Lovejoy, earning a 12-10, 11-8, 11-5 victory to ensure he will take on Colombia's Miguel Rodriguez next.

"I'm just really happy to get through, it was a tough match with Spencer," said Harrity.

"He's young and up and coming and we're both Americans training together at the [Specter] Center. We know each other's games well. I thought I was a little nervous at times, but I stuck with it on the big points, I didn't run from the situation and I'm really happy to win today."

The other men from the USA in action on day one were Shahjahan Khan - the nation's No.1 player - and Faraz Khan, but they saw their tournaments come to an end against Dimitri Steinmann and Patrick Rooney, respectively.

In the women's event, USA duo Sabrina Sobhy and Olivia Clyne booked their spots in the last 32 following respective wins over Haley Mendez and Ka Yi Lee.

Sobhy dominated proceedings against Mendez and duly completed an 11-1, 11-6, 11-3 victory to set up a second round encounter with Canada's Hollie Naughton.

"I felt pretty good with my performance," said Sobhy.

"The atmosphere being at home took a lot of the pressure off and I tried to focus on relaxing on court because I felt a bit tense at the previous tournaments. I tried to stay calm and control my emotions and the ball around the court more."

Meanwhile, Egypt's Nadine Shahin completed a huge comeback against US wildcard Lucie Stefanoni to avoid a shock defeat. 18-year-old Stefanoni had already competed in the first round of the Arlen Specter Philadelphia Junior Championships earlier in the day but caught Shahin off guard in a superb beginning to the match which saw her power into a 2/0 lead.

Shahin finally turned up in the match during a one-sided third game as she began to hit the ball with more purpose, though she needed to maintain her composure in a fourth-game tie-break after Stefanoni had overturned three game balls. The American made a perfect start to the fifth game as she went 3-0 up, but she soon ran out of gas as Shahin came back to set up a fixture against Tesni Evans of Wales.

"I was nervous and I didn't really give the match its worth," said Shahin.

"I was just thinking about the second match, which was really unprofessional from me. I disregarded Lucie's athleticism, spirit and talent. I always forget that the up-and-coming juniors are so hungry, they have nothing to lose and they play very well."

Stefanoni's older sister Marina was also in action but she fell to Hong Kong's Chan Sin Yuk in the final match of the day.