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George Parker powers into Madeira final

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Down and out: Top seed Alejandro Caro takes a tumble against George Parker
Down and out: Top seed Alejandro Caro takes a tumble against George Parker

Parker takes out top seed to line up final with Jan Koukal
By MICHAEL CATLING  – Squash Mad Reporter in Madeira

 

English teenager George Parker will contest his third PSA World Tour final in as many months after scalping top seed Alejandro Garbi Caro in the semi-finals of the Madeira International Open in Caniço, Portugal.

Parker, who was a losing finalist at the Inno Wood Open and Select Gaming Kent Open, overturned a one-game deficit to triumph 2-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-6 in an ill-tempered encounter at the Onda Revital Club on the Portuguese island of Madeira.

The 19-year-old third seed will meet Czech number one Jan Koukal, 32, in the final of the PSA Challenger 5 event, after the second seed survived a five-game battle against Parker’s compatriot Lyell Fuller.

Fuller fought back from two games down to beat namesake Mark in the quarter finals, and threatened to replicate his heroics after twice levelling the scores.

Despite a noticeable drop in intensity in the deciding game, Fuller ran out of steam as Koukal kept his hopes of back-to-back PSA titles alive.

Parker, on the other hand, is still seeking a maiden PSA title and was steamrolled in the opening game of his semi-final clash as Caro flew out of the blocks.

Parker’s response was emphatic as the Spanish number three surrendered his advantage in just eight minutes.

Chat  show: Alejandro Caro and George Parker engage with the referee
Chat show: Alejandro Caro and George Parker engage with the referee

Not for the first time, the referee felt the brunt of Caro’s frustrations on court and his displeasure almost reached breaking point as Parker held his nerve in the third game to move ahead for the first time.

Trailing 6-1 in the fourth game, Caro capitalised on three unforced errors to threaten a revival. A couple of ferocious rallies ultimately proved Caro’s undoing as Parker exploited his opponent’s lethargy at the front of the court to clinch victory in 37 minutes.

unnamed“He [Caro] is a tricky player to face but I was able to use my physicality and short game to push him on the back foot,” said Parker.

“I really struggled in the first game and I knew I had to step my game up. It was a bit messy at times but I was happy overall with the way I played.”

On the adjoining court, Koukal (right) ended hopes of an all-English final after edging a see-saw battle against fifth seed Fuller in just under an hour.

The 16-time Czech Nationals champion was twice pegged back by Fuller – 13 years his junior – but the pendulum swung in favour of Koukal in the decider as the former world number 39 started to dictate proceedings.

A contentious drop shot, which appeared to catch the tin, gave Koukal seven match balls and left Fuller incensed.

The 19-year-old from Devon responded with two winners before a tinned drop shot ended his hopes of a maiden PSA final.

Victory against Parker would see Koukal tie Amr Shabana and Nick Matthew on 33 PSA titles, but the 32-year-old from Prague remains unconcerned about matching two greats of the game.

“I can’t really compare myself to Shabana and Matthew,” said Koukal. “They have obviously won bigger tournaments than me but I am just really enjoying my squash at the moment. I have never played George before but I am ready for the challenge. If I can add another title to my collection, I will be delighted.”

2015 Madeira Open:

Semi-final results:

[3] George Parker (ENG) 3-1 [1] Alejandro Garbi Caro (ESP) 2-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-6 (34m)
[2] Jan Koukal (CZE) 3-2 [5] Lyell Fuller (ENG) 11-7, 3-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-5 (57m)

Quarter-Finals: Fuller fights back
English teenager Lyell Fuller fought back from two games down to edge a titanic tussle against fourth seed Mark Fuller and advance through to the semi-finals of the Madeira International Open in Caniço, Portugal.

Lyell, 19, had lost their previous encounter at the Brest International Classic in April, and a similar scenario appeared to be unfolding as the fifth seed’s frustrations with a series of refereeing decisions threatened to boil over.

But the world number 141 from Devonshire regained his composure to complete an unlikely turnaround, triumphing 7-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9 at the second edition of the PSA Challenger 5 event on the Portuguese island of Madeira.

“The match was tough mentally and physically,” said Lyell. “It was difficult trying to keep my emotions in check as we were both battling incredibly hard on court. He started really strongly and I felt I was being quite passive. I knew I had to change my tactics so I really tried to take advantage of any openings and thankfully I managed to turn things around.”

With just eight places separating Lyell and Mark in the PSA World Rankings, the match turned into a war of attrition down the left-hand side wall as a number of gruelling rallies ensued.

Mark edged a 16-minute opening game and capitalised on Lyell’s frustrations with a series of refereeing decisions to double his advantage.

Facing a sixth quarter-final exit this year, Lyell returned reinvigorated and stormed back to level the arrears. With the momentum behind him, Lyell forged ahead again early in the final game.

Trailing by five points, Mark dug deep to claw back the deficit but with the scores locked at nine-apiece, a tinned drop and a stroke decision handed Lyell victory in 66 minutes.

On the adjacent court, experience prevailed over youth as second seed Jan Koukal ended home hopes with a 7-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-7 success over Portuguese number one Rui Soares.

Koukal, who will face Lyell for a place in the final, was pushed hard by Soares – 11 years his junior – and looked in danger of falling to only his fifth defeat on the PSA World Tour this year.

Buoyed by the support of a raucous home gallery, Soares seemed like a man possessed as he scurried about the court and deservedly won the opening game.

The 16-time Czech Nationals champion remained unflustered, however, and slowly wore down the 21-year-old sixth seed to keep his hopes of a 33rd Tour title alive.

In the top half of the draw, third seed George Parker held off a late fightback from South African Tristan Eysele to prevail 15-13, 11-6, 5-11, 11-9 at the Onda Revital Club.

The English teenager was forced to save four game balls in the first game and saw a 6-2 lead in the fourth game evaporate as Eysele threatened to take the match into a decider.

With the prospect of another tie-break looming, Parker gleefully accepted two unforced errors from a weary-looking Eysele to advance in 37 minutes.

Success on Tour has so far eluded the 19-year-old from Leicester, and Parker admits his current form is below the standard required to break a run of two consecutive final defeats.

“My performance wasn’t great,” admitted Parker. “There were far too many errors and I wasn’t moving that well. Credit to my opponent, though, he pushed me hard and made it quite difficult in the end. But if I play like that tomorrow, I don’t think I stand a good chance of winning.”

Next up for the reigning European Junior Under 19 champion is top seed Alejandro Garbi Caro who, like Parker, is looking to reach successive PSA finals this week.

The 32-year-old Spaniard recaptured the form which earned him a runner-up trophy at the Gibraltar Open last month as he powered past seventh seed Joe Green 11-8, 11-1, 11-6.

Green, who was also knocked out of the competition at the quarter-final stage in 2014, edged the opening exchanges before Caro reeled off six points in a row to hold four game balls.

The 20-year-old left-hander saved the first two but a mishit drop shot handed Caro the ascendancy. The world number 110 from Castellon stormed through the next game in just six minutes, and recovered from a 5-2 deficit in the corresponding game to remain on course for just a second career title.

Quarter-final results:
[1] Alejandro Garbi Caro (ESP) 3-0 [7] Joe Green (ENG) 11-8, 11-1, 11-6 (33m)
[3] George Parker (ENG) 3-1 [8] Tristan Eysele (RSA) 15-13, 11-6, 5-11, 11-9 (37m)
[5] Lyell Fuller (ENG) 3-2 [4] Mark Fuller (ENG) 7-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9 (66m)
[2] Jan Koukal (CZE) 3-1 [6] Rui Soares (POR) 7-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-7 (40m)

Semi-final draw:
[1] Alejandro Garbi Caro (ESP) v [3] George Parker (ENG)
[5] Lyell Fuller (ENG) v [2] Jan Koukal (CZE)

 

 

Pictures by  MICHAEL CATLING

 

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