Iqbal justifies top billing as he secures sixth PSA Tour title in St Louis
By MICHAEL CATLING – Squash Mad Reporter
Pakistan number one Nasir Iqbal gave an emphatic response to National coach Jamshed Gul’s request to enter the world’s top 40 before March by toppling Germany’s Raphael Kandra in the final of the Emerson Racquet Club Pro Series in St Louis, Missouri.
Iqbal’s world number 53 ranking was called into question earlier this week, with Gul pointing to a lack of progression over recent months.
However, Iqbal issued a damning riposte as he defeated Kandra 11-9, 14-16, 11-7, 11-2 in the first final of the 2014 PSA US Pro Squash Series.
The 19-year-old, who knocked out Mexican Arturo Salazar in the semi-finals, had failed to drop a single game all week heading into his first-ever clash with Kandra and appeared in imperious form as he raced into a 7-1 lead in the opening game.
But although the 23-year-old from Ferth fought back to close within a point of Iqbal, the top seed unleashed a forehand kill to edge the opening game 11-9.
A second game tie break saw both players fashion several game balls, before a reverse drop winner from Kandra drew the scores level at one-apiece.
Iqbal, 19, cut down his error count in the third to regain the lead, before thrashing his left-handed opponent in the fourth to seal an 11-9, 14-16, 11-7, 11-2 victory.
The win marks the sixth PSA Tour title of the Iqbal’s career and his first since triumphing at the Pakistan Circuit No2 in June.
 Nasir Iqbal (PAK) 3-1  Raphael Kandra (GER) 11-9, 14-16, 11-7, 11-2
Pictures courtesy of Steve Cubbins (SquashSite) and the official tournament photographer