Friday, December 1, 2023

Koukal lands Gas City Open title

Jan Koukal (2nd left) with his Gas City Open trophy, and the title sponsors of the event from Holtrand Holdings (left to right): Mark Holtom, Matt Teel and Mark Swaenepoel

Koukal nets the winner’s cheque again to win his 28th PSA Tour title
By MICHAEL CATLING – Squash Mad Chief Reporter

Czech number one Jan Koukal upset tournament favourite and defending champion Leo Au to secure his fifth PSA title in as many months at the Gas City Open in Medicine Hat, Canada.

The world number 71 had little trouble in knocking out fifth seed Ben Coleman in the semi-finals and needed just 48 minutes to record his 28th PSA Tour title with an 11-9, 11-5, 11-7 victory over the Hong Kong number two. 

In truth, Au was always battling fatigue after a gruelling 102 minute encounter against German Raphael Kandra just 24 hours earlier and Koukal executed his gameplan to perfection to capitalise on Au’s lethargy.

The 14-time Czech Nationals champion marched into an early 8-3 lead and although Au fought back valiantly, Koukal delivered a crushing blow to take a lengthy opening game 11-9. 

The sixth seed continued in the ascendancy in the second game and after doubling his advantage, he sealed his fourth successive straight games victory to avenge his semi-final defeat against Au at the Bankers Hall Club Pro Am last month.

Final Result:

[6] Jan Koukal (CZE) 3-0 [1] Leo Au (HKG) 11-9, 11-5, 11-7 (48m)

Picture courtesy of the Gas City Open


Semi-final report: Au celebrates his birthday in style to headline Gas City Open final for the second year in a row 

Birthday boy and top seed Leo Au fought back from a 2-1 deficit to advance into the final of the Gas City Open at the expense of German number two Raphael Kandra in a near two hour encounter in Medicine Hat, Canada.

Au, who has risen to world number 40 in the February world rankings, twice fell behind against the German third seed but remained unflustered to secure an 8-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5 in 102 minutes.

Leo AuThe 24-year-old (pictured left), who won the Bankers Hall Club Pro Am last week, will now need to overcome sixth seed Jan Koukal to retain his Gas City Open crown, after the world number 71 eased past Ben Coleman of England 11-6, 11-4, 11-5.

Coleman, 22, endured a five game battle against second seed Martin Knight just 24 hours earlier and looked devoid of energy as Koukal secured a third successive straight games victory in just under an hour. 

The Czech number one, who is hunting a fifth PSA Tour title in as many months, will be hoping to avenge his 91 minute semi-final loss to Au at the aforementioned Bankers Hall Club, while the Hong Kong number two is searching for his eighth consecutive victory. 

Semi-finals Results:

[1] Leo Au (HKG) 3-2 [3] Raphael Kandra (GER) 8-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5 (102m)
[6] Jan Koukal (CZE) 3-0 [5] Ben Coleman (ENG) 11-6, 11-4, 11-5 (53m)

Picture by Steve Cubbins (SquashSite)


Quarter-final report: Coleman shows little remorse for injury-stricken Knight to book semi-final showdown with Koukal

World number 87 Ben Coleman overturned a two game deficit to stun second seed Martin Knight in the quarter-finals of the Gas City Open in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.

In the longest match of the tournament so far, Knight looked set to advance into his seventh successive PSA Tour semi-final after easing through the opening two games.

Ben Coleman newColeman’s response, though, was emphatic and after halving the deficit following a one-sided third game, the 22-year-old Englishman (pictured left) ruthlessly exploited a leg injury suffered by the world number 49 to ease through the next two games and prevail 7-11, 6-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-4.

Coleman will now face Czech number one Jan Koukal for a place in the final, after the sixth seed overcame Aussie Rex Hedrick in straight games.

Koukal, who won five times on the PSA Tour last year, narrowly edged a first game tie-break and thereafter, Hedrick was unable to contain the 30-year-old as Koukal eased through the next two games to seal a comfortable 12-10, 11-5, 11-7 victory.

In the top half of the draw, number one seed and defending champion Leo Au overcame a second game wobble to triumph 11-9, 6-11, 11-1, 11-6 in 63 minutes over Aussie eighth seed Andrew Schnell.

Au, 24, struggled in the opening exchanges but with the match finally poised at one-apiece, the world number 40 dropped just seven points in the final two games to give the scoreline an uneven reflection in an otherwise tight contest.

German number two Raphael Kandra awaits Au in the semi-finals, after the world number 62 brushed aside the challenge of Dutchman Sebastiaan Weenink 11-4, 11-7, 11-4 in 46 minutes.

The 23-year-old left-hander, who has finished runner-up in his last two PSA events, was barely troubled by the Weenink who appeared to be feeling the after-effects of a gruelling first-round match with seventh seed Dane Sharp.

Kandra will now need to overcame a psychological hurdle to advance into his 11th PSA Tour final appearance in 13 months, after failing to beat Au in any of their three career meetings.

Quarter-Finals Results:

[1] Leo Au (HKG) 3-1 [8] Andrew Schnell (CAN) 11-9, 6-11, 11-1, 11-6 (63m)
[3] Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-0 Sebastiaan Weenink (NED) 11-4, 11-7, 11-4 (46m)
[6] Jan Koukal (CZE) 3-0 [4] Rex Hedrick (AUS) 12-10, 11-5, 11-7 
[5] Ben Coleman (ENG) 3-2 [2] Martin Knight (NZL) 7-11, 6-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-4

First Round Results:

[1] Leo Au (HKG) 3-0 Alex Ingham (ENG) 11-8, 11-4, 11-5 (40m)
[8] Andrew Schnell (CAN) 3-0 [Q] Graeme Schnell (CAN) 11-5, 12-10, 11-6 (67m)
Sebastiaan Weenink (NED) 3-2 [7] Dane Sharp (CAN) 7-11, 7-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-2 (67m)
[3] Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-0 [Q] James Huang (TPE) 11-9, 11-4, 11-4 (50m)
[4] Rex Hedrick (AUS) 3-0 [Q] Richie Fallows (ENG) 11-7, 11-7, 11-7 (50m)
[6] Jan Koukal (CZE) 3-0 Michael McCue (CAN) 11-8, 11-5, 11-3 (45m)
[5] Ben Coleman (ENG) 3-0 Alejandro Garbi Caro (ESP) 12-10, 13-11, 11-6 (87m)
[2] Martin Knight (NZL) 3-0 [Q] Reiko Peter (SUI) 11-6, 11-7, 11-5 (55m)

Qualifying Finals Results:

Reiko Peter (SUI) 3-0 Benjamin Fischer (SUI) 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 (41m)
Richie Fallows (ENG) 3-2 Michael Harris (ENG) 9-11, 11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 11-6 (90m)
Graeme Schnell (CAN) 3-1 Adam Auckland (ENG) 5-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 (65m)
James Huang (TPE) 3-1 David Letourneau (CAN) 11-2, 8-11, 13-11, 12-10 (68m)

First Qualifying Round Results:

Reiko Peter (SUI) 3-0 James Earles (ENG) 11-5, 11-4, 11-6 (28m)
Benjamin Fischer (SUI) 3-0 Reuben Phillips (ENG) 11-9, 11-0, 11-5 (31m)
Richie Fallows (ENG) 3-2 Adam Murrills (ENG) 11-8, 6-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8 (78m)
Michael Harris (ENG) 3-0 Will John (WAL) 11-4, 11-9, 11-6
Graeme Schnell (CAN) 3-1 Matthew Serediak (CAN) 12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 11-8 (72m)
Adam Auckland (ENG) 3-0 Brock Janzer (CAN) 11-5, 11-5, 11-2 (31m)
David Letourneau (CAN) 3-1 Jonathan Geekie (SCO) 6-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-9
James Huang (TPE) 3-0 Micah Franklin (BER) 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 (42m)

Picture by Steve Cubbins (SquashSite)

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