Madeira triumph puts Koukal alongside Shabana and Matthew for PSA tournament wins
By MICHAEL CATLING – Squash Mad Reporter in Madeira
Czech No.1 Jan Koukal has become the joint second most successful player on the current PSA World Tour after notching his 33rd career title at the Madeira International Open in Caniço, Portugal.
The second seed overcame English rising star George Parker 6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-6 to draw level with Amr Shabana and Nick Matthew in the title stakes and inflict a third successive final defeat on Parker in as many months.
Victory at the second edition of the PSA M5 event also secured back-to-back titles for the 32-year-old from Prague, following his success at the Château-Arnoux Open earlier this month.
“It was my first time playing in Madeira so it feels extra special to win here,” said a delighted Koukal. “It was a really tough match, especially after playing my semi final against Lyell [Fuller] earlier in the day.
“George started really well and put me under a lot of pressure. He actually surprised me with the way he was playing so it took me a couple of games to adapt and change my strategy. I didn’t feel very sharp in the first game but I started moving a lot better in the second and I managed to control the rest of the match.”
Parker, meanwhile, was left to rue an error-strewn display in which he accrued eight unforced errors in the third game alone.
The third seed from Leicester – positioned 35 places above Koukal in the PSA World Rankings – appeared in cruise control in the opening exchanges and punished a number of loose shots from Koukal to take the first game at the Onda Revital Club in quickfire fashion.
The duo traded points in the second game but with the scores tied at nine-apiece, Parker tinned a routine drop shot to hand Koukal the advantage. The former world No.39, who needed five games to defeat Parker’s fellow countryman Lyell Fuller in the last four, duly converted his first game ball with a clinging backhand drive to level the arrears.
A seething Parker took his frustrations out on his own racket, and later received a conduct warning for equipment abuse as the world No.113 struggled to hide his emotions. His mood was not helped by the outcome of the third game, as Koukal benefitted from Parker’s generosity at the front of the court to strengthen his foothold on proceedings.
With the error count racking up, Parker lost five of the first six points in the corresponding game and appeared resigned to another final defeat.
Three tinned drop shots from Koukal, punctuated by a fortuitous bounce off the back wall, gave Parker hope, but the 16-time Czech Nationals champion quickly regained the initiative and exploited Parker’s erratic hitting to prevail in 48 minutes.
Commenting on his 19-year-old opponent, Koukal added: “I know George is desperate to win his first title but he is still young and will have plenty of chances in the future. He deserves a big congratulations for reaching the final because he caused a huge upset beating the top seed [Alejandro Garbi Caro] in the semi finals.”
2015 Madeira Open
 Jan Koukal (CZE) 3-1  George Parker (ENG) 6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-6 (48m)
 George Parker (ENG) 3-1  Alejandro Garbi Caro (ESP) 2-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-6 (34m)
 Jan Koukal (CZE) 3-2  Lyell Fuller (ENG) 11-7, 3-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-5 (57m)
 Alejandro Garbi Caro (ESP) 3-0  Joe Green (ENG) 11-8, 11-1, 11-6 (33m)
 George Parker (ENG) 3-1  Tristan Eysele (RSA) 15-13, 11-6, 5-11, 11-9 (37m)
 Lyell Fuller (ENG) 3-2  Mark Fuller (ENG) 7-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9 (66m)
 Jan Koukal (CZE) 3-1  Rui Soares (POR) 7-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-7 (40m)
First round results:
 Alejandro Garbi Caro (ESP) 3-1 [Q] Brian Byrne (IRL) 11-2, 5-11, 11-5, 11-7 (34m)
 Joe Green (ENG) 3-0 [Q] Sam Ellis (ENG) 11-8, 11-5, 11-8 (32m)
 Tristan Eysele (RSA) 3-2 [Q] Omar El Tahry (EGY) 11-3, 3-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-8 (41m)
 George Parker (ENG) 3-0 Remo Handl (SUI) 12-10, 11-6, 11-6 (23m)
 Mark Fuller (ENG) 3-0 [Q] Pascal Gomez (ESP) 11-7, 11-4, 11-4 (31m)
 Lyell Fuller (ENG) 3-0 Claudio Pinto (POR) 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 (43m)
 Rui Soares (POR) 3-1 Tom de Mulder (BEL) 11-6, 11-5, 9-11, 11-5 (29m)
 Jan Koukal (CZE) 3-0 Joeri Hapers (BEL) 11-9, 11-9, 11-3 (28m)
Picture by MICHAEL CATLING