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City of Prague Open winner Iker Pajares Bernabeu (right) with runner-up Jan Koukal (left). Picture by squashpage.net

Pajares Prevails Against Home Hope Koukal in Prague Open Final

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Spain’s 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 in the ascendancy 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 Pajares’s 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 advantage.

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 Koukal’s 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.

“I’ve 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. It’s such an honour to beat Jan Koukal in his home town, he is a legend. Now it’s 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 wasn’t my day today. Iker played well, wanted the win more than me, and that made the difference.”

Result – Final: City of Prague Open 2016
[3] Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) bt [4] Jan Koukal (CZE) 3-1: 11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 11-6 (61m)

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