Top seed Aubert beats home favourite Vargas to the title
He got an early lead and played without any errors to keep it till 8/6 but then hit the tin 3 times in a row and allowed Benjamin Aubert to turn it to 11/8 in 17 minutes.
Second game was dominated by Benjamin who took it 11/4. The third was the most dramatic game. The score was always close at the beginning 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4. Juan got to 7/4 and 8/5 by playing a series of very good rallies. Benjamin regrouped and took next 5 points to earn two matchballs at 10/8.
Juan saved both and two more at 11/10 and 12/11 but Benjamin was able to use his fifth chance and won 14/12. 57 minutes of high quality squash to finish the tournament. The best player deservedly won the title.
Benjamin : Finally won a 10k for the first time. Happy with the way I played all week. So after my surgery 8 months ago this title is for my family, friends, girlfrend, coaches and especially for my good silly friend Zozo.
Juan : I´m bummed not to win today. I felt like I played well all week but today I struggled to impose my game and when I finally felt in control it was too late. Credit to him for playing well. Thanks to Czech squash and Strahov for putting up a great event.
Semi-Finals : Tomas Forter reports
The last Czech hope unfortunately ended today when top seed Benjamin Aubert beat Jakub Solnicky. Benjamin dominated the first with high pace.
Jakub did well to realize he is not going to beat Benjamin at high pace. He started to slow it down from the beginning of the second. He played lot of high and very accurate shots. It worked well for him and he managed to get in front of his opponents much more often and the score was close all the way 5/5, 6/6, 7/7, 8/8, 9/9. Both played squash of a very high quality and Jakub managed to win next two points to win the second by playing probably the best squash of his life.
But it took a lot out of him, Benjamin realized it very soon. He pushed the pace very high again and soon it was obvious Jakub will not be able to keep the pace with him anymore. Benjamin dominated the third and fourth game and reached the final in 47 minutes.
Jakub : Better player won today, I wasnt that tight and solid as I needed, my game to the back wasnt good enough except the second game, which I´m really happy with the way I pushed myself and won at least one game. Overal happy with this tournament, my game and my improvements. I was looking forward to Malaysia for the worlds but now let´s rest a bit and prepare for the tournament in my home club in Ostrava in two weeks.
The second semifinal followed exactly the same pattern as the first one. Juan Vargas who has been playing very good squash recently kept the pace high in the first and his shots were coming in nicely. Balazs Farkas came back well to get the second where his length was better and he was able to create more chances at the front where he is very good. But Juan did not panic when he lost the second game.
He kept moving Balazs from the beginning of the third and he was giving him very little time at the front and eliminated his attacks. This tactics worked really well and Balazs started to look a bit tired soon. Juan got the third and raced to 8/3 in the fourth quickly. Balazs threatened him a bit when he won next three points to 6/8 but the next three points belonged to Juan again.
Juan : I´m so happy to be in the final. I´m really enjoying my squash at the moment and I´m taking each match as if it was the last one of the season. On top of that I have all my team with me here so I cannot wait until tomorrow!
Balazs : I felt myself a bit tired before the match. Yesterday I needed to play hard five games and thats what I felt. I tried to do my best but this time it was not enough. I hope next time I can do better.
QUARTERS : Tomas Forter reports
In the first match top seeded Frenchman Benjamin Aubert started with a very high pace and it took David Zeman a while to get used to it. He was soon 7/0 down but he managed to get back into the match. Benjamin won the first 11/7. Second game was quite close all the way to 8/8 but Benjamin played the last few points better and won 11/9. In the third Benjamin got a good lead quickly and although David never stopped trying the favourite close the match 11/6 in 35 minutes.
Benjamin : Managed to get a spot in semi final after a 3-0 win today. I was leading at the begining of every game and trying to keep the advantage of the whole match. 2 more matches to get the title home. Let´s see what happens.
David : I was little bit surprised by high pace and quality attacks of Benjamin at the start and I was quickly losing 0-7 in the first game. Luckily I got used to it and managed to play with him better rallies in later stages but he was a better player today and deserved to win. But overall I am quite happy with my tournament here and even the game today where I was really stiff from my match on Sunday was not bad.
Rob Downer and Jakub Solnicky played each other on the very same court exactly one week ago in Czech league. Jakub was 2/0 and 10/8 up then and Rob managed to win. So same as yesterday against Marek Panacek Jakub wanted a revenge today. And same as yesterday he got it again. He played his usual solid game and Rob wasn´t at his best today.
Jakub : I knew what to expect because we played each other last Tuesday and I lost 2/3 after two matchballs in the third. So I knew what to do to beat him. Luckily I stayed in the rallies, kept the ball tight and I was finishing rallies. The end of the third was a bit nervous from me. I´m in good mood for semifinal tomorrow and I hope the home fans will be cheering for me.
Robert : Not too much to say about that one, Solna kept it solid today to be fair to him and I was way off of my game in all departments. Some tough lessons this week in how to handle certain areas better to stay on my game. Straight back to work for me tomorrow to learn the errors of todays ways!
Balazs Farkas played really well in the first game and won it 11/6. Peter Creed got into the match and forced a tie-break in the second but Balazs got it 12/10. In the third the score was close to 5/5 but then Peter ran away with 6 points. When Balazs got to 10/5 in the fourth it looked like the match was over. Peter dug in, kept fighting and surprised Balazs and took the fourth 12/10 to force a decider. Balazs got his concentration back in the fifth and was always ahead from the beginning. Peter saved three matchballs from 3/10 to 6/10 but this time Balazs did not allow Peter´s comeback again. It was the longest (72 min.) and probably the most entertaining match of the tournament so far.
Balazs : I really enjoyed to play agains Peter. He is a really good person and good player so I am so happy I could beat him. I played well in the first 2 games but after that I made too many errors. I need to focus all the match next time and hopefully I can play a better match tomorrow. I am really happy that I play the semi final tomorrow so its time to rest before it.
Peter : Overall I´m pretty happy to be moving well, injury free and competing again close to where my level is. Unfortunately I lost my length a little at crutial times which cost me. Fitness wise I´m feeling good and will come back to Czech in a few weeks with some more training under my belt. Thanks to the organisers.
First game of the last match was very quick and Juan Vargas won it 11/0. Daniel only started in the second but Juan still won it 11/8. In the third Daniel Mekbib started very well and got to 8/3 but Juan managed to get close at 7/8 but Daniel held his nerves to close the third game 11/7. They played some brutal rallies at the beginning of the fourth and after them it was obvious Juan was the fitter and fresher player. He quickly got to 10/1 and won the match on his second matchball.
Juan : I´m really happy with my performance today. He is quite a skillful player and it can be tough to feel comfortable on court. At the end I came on top physically and I am very excited for tomorrow´s match.
Daniel : Very happy with how I played, finally without pain in my hip. Juan played great game tactically, howeer my fitness is not where I would like to be. But big positives for my last PSA tournament in two weeks 😊
Round TWO : Tomas Forter reports
It doesn’t happen very often that the full round of 8 PSA matches played in one day would not bring a single one match which would be longer than 3 games and 40 minutes. But this is exactly what happened today in Prague. We had two upsets against the seedings and three Czech players progressed to tomorrow’s quarters.
First match was over after only 15 minutes. Viktor Byrtus hit some good shots in the first game and led 7/5 but all David Zeman needed to do was to keep the ball in play as Viktor obviously did not want to play longer rallies. David managed to win final few points of the first game. After some quick rallies at the beginning of the second where Viktor visibly struggled with his movement after he renew his ankle injury from tournament in Brno two weeks ago Viktor decided to shake hands.
Top seeded Frenchman Benjamin Aubert also won comfortably against Ondrej Vorlicek. He was only tested in the first game which he won 11/9. After that he was in more control and won 11/4 and 11/6 in 28 minutes.
Charlie Lee unfortunately had to pull out of the tournament for personal reasons so we only had one match at 17:45 and Rob Downer got a walkover to quarters.
Jakub Solnicky and Marek Panacek played a rematch of their semifinal at the Czech nationals four weeks ago where Marek beat Jakub for the first time. This time it was obvious Jakub wanted his revenge badly. Most rallies were long and patient but Jakub was more active and aggressive and he was putting Marek under a lot of pressure. First two games were close to 8/8 and 7/7 but it was always Jakub who won the big points at the end. He dominated the third 11/3 and got his revenge in 37 minutes.
Balazs Farkas won very comfortably against Marc Lopez who visibly struggled with his ankle injury from yesterday. Their three games were over in just 10 minutes. That must be one of the shortest men´s matches on PSA records ever.
Martin Svec did not have the patience against Peter Creed today. Peter played solid squash, Martin was able to stay in the rallies at the beginning but it was soon obvious that he wanted to go for too much too soon. And Peter is too experienced not to capitalize on this. Martin improved in the third game but it was not enough today.
Juan Vargas continued his very good form from last tournament in Brno. Roshan Bharos tried hard but Juan dominated the rallies in the first. Second and third were closer and Roshan pushed Juan much more and the rallies were entertaining for the crowd but Juan was simply a better player today.
Daniel Mekbib beat his long time team mate from Brno Ondrej Uherka. Ondrej moved to Prague last year and plays for Strahov club so he was on home soil. He played one of his better matches of this season but Daniel proved too strong.
Round ONE : Ondrej Vorlicek caused the first upset in the first match of the tournament. He managed to come back from 0/1 and 1/2 down against no. 10 seeded Argentinian Leandro Romiglio.
The match of the day was played between Jakob Dirnberger and Marc Lopez. First four games were all 13/11 with both players having gameballs in each of the games. Jakob won games 1 and 4 and Marc won games 2 and 3. In the fifth Marc twisted his ankle and took 3 minutes injury break. Got back on court and got to 10/6 in the fifth, Jakob managed to save three matchballs but he put the high backhand volley into the tin at 9/10 to finish the match in 68 minutes.
David Zeman and Marek Panacek were also pushed to 5 games but they both managed to win the fifth games. Other seeds won fairly comfortably.