Top seeds power through in Poland
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad International Correspondent
Following both their weddings just over a week ago, Germany’s Raphael Kandra and Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet set up a surprise quarter-final clash in the World Games Squash Championships tomorrow (Wednesday) in Poland after surviving second round matches at Hasta la Vista in the city of Wroclaw.
Squash is making its fifth appearance in the World Games, the quadrennial multi-sport event for non-Olympic programme sports – the 10th edition of which is the biggest sports event ever to be staged in Poland, under the patronage of the IOC.
Kandra, the world No.43 from Paderborn, married fellow squash player Sina Wall some 10 days ago – the day after Castagnet tied the knot with compatriot Laura Pomportes, also a French national squash player.
After a first round win in the morning over Egyptian Ahmed Hany Hussein, 9/16 seed Kandra faced Mexican Cesar Salazar, a 3/4 seed, in the last 16 round.
Despite being 22 places lower in the PSA world rankings, left-hander Kandra stormed to an 11-6, 11-3, 11-7 victory over world No.21 Salazar in just 26 minutes.
“In fact I have never lost to him – therefore I knew what to expect,” said the 26-year-old German. “I have the feeling he doesn’t really like playing me, so I always feel it’s down to me to beat him by playing my usual game.
“I was really looking forward to playing this tournament – last season ended earlier for me than for most players, so I started my summer training earlier and was ready for the event.”
Meanwhile, 5/8 seed Castagnet benefitted from a bye in the first round, then faced Great Britain’s Douglas Kempsell, a 9/16 seed (both pictured above). After dropping the opening game, the world No.24 took control of proceedings to secure a 9-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-2 win after 57 minutes.
“I only played him a few months ago in the European Championships – so I know he’s a fighter,” explained 30-year-old Castagnet later. “I had a bye in the first round, and I think that turned out to be a disadvantage as it took me some time to get used to the court. I think I woke up at about 8-4 down and got it back to 10-9 – then he hit a really good shot and won the first game.
“I played better from then on. I used to put pressure on myself but now I am much more relaxed.”
The top two men’s seeds cruised into the last eight – German favourite Simon Rösner beating Australian Rhys Dowling 11-8, 11-3, 11-7, while second-seeded Hong Kong player Max Lee ended the run of unseeded Czech opponent Jan Koukal, winning 11-6, 11-3, 11-2.
Koukal, the 18-time Czech champion, boasts 34 titles on the PSA World Tour but retired from the pro circuit a year ago. The 34-year-old – who is now focussed on winning 20 national titles – produced the only 1st round upset after beating seeded Briton Joshua Masters, a 22-year-old ranked 58 in the world, 11-7, 11-9, 5-11, 13-11.
“I came into this event completely fresh – that’s the difference from playing events all the time,” said the Prague squash star (pictured above being interviewed after his 1st round upset). “It’s the first time I’ve played this event and it feels great!”
Rösner will now face Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez, a 5/8 seed from Bogota who beat Malaysian Ivan Yuen 4-11, 11-2, 11-8, 11-5.
“I’d never played him before – but I know he’s very talented and needed to be careful,” said the 31-year-old former world No.4 who is the highest-ranked South American of all-time. “I was much more positive in the second game. I had to be patient.”
On participating in the World Games, Rodriguez said: “This is our Olympic Games – and it’s bigger than the PanAm Games for me. Colombia has only got 52 athletes in the whole of the Games and we have already won seven gold medals.
“If I got a medal it would be great news in Colombia.”
Fellow South American Diego Elias also made it through to the quarter-finals – beating Malaysia’s Nafiizwan Adnan 11-7, 8-11, 11-3, 11-5 to become the first Peruvian to make the event’s last eight.
“It was a bit hot on that court and I think he got a bit tired towards the end,” said the 20-year-old from Lima. “I was moving well and am pleased to be in the quarter-finals for the first time.
“We don’t have many athletes here from Peru so if I won a medal here it would be great for my country.”
France’s Camille Serme led the top eight seeds through to the women’s quarter-finals. The top seed, ranked three in the world, beat Great Britain’s Alison Thomson 11-5, 13-11, 11-6.
Malaysian Nicol David, the second seed and defending champion, reached the quarters after beating close friend Samantha Teran, a Mexican once ranked 11 in the world, 11-3, 11-6, 11-8. Both players were celebrating their fourth appearances in the event.
“It’s always tough to play one of your friends – but she had a job to do and so did I,” explained David, the illustrious former world number one bidding for a record fourth successive gold medal.
“I felt good on the court and she probably took a bit of time to get used to it as it was her first match on the showcourt.
“We’ve played each other so many times before – and she’s a great player. But hopefully we’ll go our separate ways in future events!”
David will face Nele Gilis – not only the sole Belgian playing in the event, but also the first player from her country ever to compete in the World Games. Seeded in the 5/8 group, the 21-year-old beat Australian Tamika Saxby 11-6, 11-8, 11-6.
“I played her twice before and it was one-all – so now it’s 2/1 to me!” said the jubilant world No.33
When told she was the first Belgium player ever to take part in the event she said: “I’m honoured – so no Belgian has ever lost in the World Games!
“It’s awesome playing in this event – it’s just like the Olympic Games. I’m honoured to be part of it.”
On playing the record eight-time world champion Nicol David, Gilis said: “I’ve trained with Nicol before in Amsterdam, but I’ve never played her before. And we’re playing on the glass court so I’m glad I’ve already had one match on that court. I’m really excited.”
The opening match on the all-glass showcourt at Hasta la Vista saw Camille Serme take on local hope Natalia Ryfa, twice a runner-up in the Polish National Championships.
“I’ve never played Camille before – in fact, I’ve never played a top 20 player before,” said the unranked 22-year-old. “It was a really nice experience.
“I’ve worked hard to be here – playing in the World Games in my home country is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Everybody is talking about it.”
World Games Squash Championships, Hasta La Vista Club, Wroclaw, Poland.
Men’s 1st round:
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt Wojciech Nowisz (POL) 11-3, 11-2, 11-1 (23m)
[9/16] Rhys Dowling (AUS) bt Daniel Mekbib (CZE) 11-7, 8-11, 9-11, 11-8, 12-10 (54m)
[9/16] Ivan Yuen (MAS) bt Matias Tuomi (FIN) 11-6, 13-11, 11-8 (31m)
[5/8] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt Vasile Hapun (ROM) 11-4, 11-5, 11-4 (20m)
[5/8] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Lau Ulrik Kiehn (DEN) w/o
[9/16] Douglas Kempsell (GBR) bt Joe Chapman (IVB) 11-6, 9-11, 11-3, 11-4 (42m)
[9/16] Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Ahmed Hany Hussein (EGY) 11-7, 11-9, 11-7 (27m)
[3/4] Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Balázs Farkas (HUN) 11-7, 5-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-4 (50m)
[3/4] Diego Elias (PER) bt Alex Eustace (AUS) 11-4, 11-4, 11-4 (23m)
[9/16] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt Alex Pavulans (LAT) w/o
[9/16] Ben Coleman (GBR) bt Yuri Farneti (ITA) 11-9, 11-5, 11-7 (48m)
[5/8] Yip Tsz Fung (HKG) bt Kostiantyn Rybalchenko (UKR) 11-2, 11-1, 11-5 (15m)
[5/8] Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Mateusz Kotra (POL) 11-2, 11-2, 11-7 (21m)
Rory Stewart (GBR) bt [9/16] Shehab Essam (EGY) 11-8, 11-3, 11-4 (28m)
Jan Koukal (CZE) bt [9/16] Joshua Masters (GBR) 11-7, 11-9, 5-11, 13-11 (42m)
 Max Lee (HKG) bt Alexey Severinov (RUS) 11-4, 11-8, 11-6 (22m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt [9/16] Rhys Dowling (AUS) 11-8, 11-3, 11-7 (26m)
[5/8] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [9/16] Ivan Yuen (MAS) 4-11, 11-2, 11-8, 11-5 (39m)
[5/8] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt [9/16] Douglas Kempsell (GBR) 9-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-2 (57m)
[9/16] Raphael Kandra (GER) bt [3/4] Cesar Salazar (MEX) 11-6, 11-3, 11-7 (26m)
[3/4] Diego Elias (PER) bt [9/16] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 11-7, 8-11, 11-3, 11-5 (51m)
[5/8] Yip Tsz Fung (HKG) bt [9/16] Ben Coleman (GBR) 6-11, 11-4, 8-11, 12-10, 11-7 (66m)
[5/8] Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Rory Stewart (GBR) 11-4, 8-11, 11-3, 11-1 (38m)
 Max Lee (HKG) bt Jan Koukal (CZE) 11-6, 11-3, 11-2 (31m)
Women’s 1st round:
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt Natalia Ryfa (POL) 11-3, 11-4, 11-3 (18m)
[9/16] Alison Thomson (GBR) bt Tessa ter Sluis (NED) 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6 (42m)
[9/16] Catalina Pelaez (COL) bt Ineta Mackevica (LAT) 11-9, 8-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-8 (45m)
[5/8] Nadine Shahin (EGY) bt Franziska Hennes (GER) 11-3, 11-4, 11-4 (28m)
[5/8] Fiona Moverley (GBR) bt Nadiia Usenko (UKR) 11-2, 11-6, 11-7 (18m)
[9/16] Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) bt Zuzana Kubáňová (CZE) 11-9, 11-2, 11-2 (21m)
[9/16] Rachel Arnold (MAS) bt Anna Serme (CZE) 12-10, 11-13, 11-8, 11-6 (40m)
[3/4] Millie Tomlinson (GBR) bt Céline Walser (SUI) 11-2, 11-2, 11-6 (18m)
[3/4] Joey Chan (HKG) bt Alina Bushma (UKR) 11-6, 11-2, 11-4 (19m)
[9/16] Milou van der Heijden (NED) bye
Lisa Aitken (GBR) bt [9/16] Jessica Turnbull (AUS) 11-5, 14-12, 12-10 (26m)
[5/8] Coline Aumard (FRA) bt Csenge Kiss-Máté (HUN) 11-4, 11-2, 13-11 (25m)
[5/8] Nele Gilis (BEL) bt Magda Kamińska (POL) 11-4, 11-7, 11-5 (22m)
[9/16] Tamika Saxby (AUS) bt Sina Kandra (GER) 9-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-4 (31m)
[9/16] Samantha Teran (MEX) bt Cristina Gomez (ESP) 12-14, 11-6, 11-3, 11-5 (41m)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt Irina Beliaeva (RUS) 11-4, 11-3, 11-3 (18m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt [9/16] Alison Thomson (GBR) 11-5, 13-11, 11-6 (33m)
[5/8] Nadine Shahin (EGY) bt [9/16] Catalina Pelaez (COL) 11-2, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6 (27m)
[5/8] Fiona Moverley (GBR) bt [9/16] Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) 11-6, 11-9, 11-7 (21m)
[3/4] Millie Tomlinson (GBR) bt [9/16] Rachel Arnold (MAS) 7-11, 11-9, 4-11, 11-8, 15-13 (50m)
[3/4] Joey Chan (HKG) bt [9/16] Milou van der Heijden (NED) 14-12, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9 (43m)
[5/8] Coline Aumard (FRA) bt Lisa Aitken (GBR) 11-5, 6-11, 11-9, 11-4 (46m)
[5/8] Nele Gilis (BEL) bt [9/16] Tamika Saxby (AUS) 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 (34m)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt [9/16] Samantha Teran (MEX) 11-3, 11-6, 11-8 (29m)
Men’s quarter-final line-up:
 Simon Rösner (GER) v [5/8] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
[9/16] Raphael Kandra (GER) v [5/8] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
[3/4] Diego Elias (PER) v [5/8] Yip Tsz Fung (HKG)
 Max Lee (HKG) v [5/8] Gregoire Marche (FRA)
Women’s quarter-final line-up:
 Camille Serme (FRA) v [5/8] Nadine Shahin (EGY)
[3/4] Millie Tomlinson (GBR) v [5/8] Fiona Moverley (GBR)
[3/4] Joey Chan (HKG) v [5/8] Coline Aumard (FRA)
 Nicol David (MAS) v [5/8] Nele Gilis (BEL)
Pictures courtesy of WSF