Laura Massaro the last home player left in Hull
By SEAN REUTHE in Hull
German qualifier Raphael Kandra continued his giant-killing run at this year’s Allam British Open as he followed up a second round victory over three-time winner Nick Matthew with a stunning 3-2 win over World No.3 Marwan ElShorbagy inside Hull’s Airco Arena – becoming the first German in history to reach the semi-finals of the iconic PSA World Series tournament.
Kandra made headlines in round two as he sent home favourite Matthew packing in his final appearance at this tournament and he put in one of the most remarkable performances the British Open has ever seen as he sent ElShorbagy to a shock defeat.
The World No.37 from Paderborn had never before reached the semi-finals of a World Series tournament but put in a display full of grit and endeavour as he claimed a stunning 11-7, 11-13, 6-11, 13-11, 11-6 victory to send the crowd into raptures as he became the first qualifier to reach the last four of the men’t tournament since 2001.
“I definitely enjoyed the crowd,” said the 27-year-old after the biggest win of his career. “I was just trying to enjoy my squash out there and the support of the crowd was amazing. It was a spectacular match. It’s hard to say but for me it probably wasn’t the best of Marwan’s squash today, but you need those days.
“I’m fighting through, whoever comes, I don’t mind. Whoever it is, if it’s Gregory Gaultier, or Mohamed ElShorbagy – I don’t mind. These guys are just so impressive at the moment and they play so well.”
Kandra will line up against former World No.4 Miguel Angel Rodriguez after the Colombian upset World No.2 Ali Farag to reach the semi-finals of this tournament for the first time since 2015 – a result that sees him leapfrog Matthew into eighth place on the PSA World Series Standings, which means that the Englishman is unable to qualify for next month’s season-ending ATCO PSA Dubai World Series Finals.
Matthew’s loss to Kandra means that the 37-year-old three-time World Champion has now officially begun his retirement after a glittering 20-year career and his place in Dubai will now be contested by Rodriguez and Kandra, with the latter only able to qualify if he goes on and wins the title.
“What a way to do it,” said Rodriguez. “The last few seasons have been tough for me with injuries but I’m back and I’m happy to be reaching semis again. I’m over the moon, I’ve been working so hard since last year and today was difficult because I’m sometimes too emotional, but I tried to be disciplined today and it worked.”
The other men’s semi-final will see defending champion Gregory Gaultier and World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy lock horns for the 23rd time on the PSA World Tour. Gaultier defeated Kandra’s compatriot and Paderborn neighbour – World No.6 Simon Rösner – while ElShorbagy overcame New Zealand’s World No.10 Paul Coll. Gaultier won in straight games but ElShorbagy took 72 minutes to subdue the battling qualities of Coll.
In the women’s event, defending champion Laura Massaro took a step closer to retaining her title after a hugely impressive 3-0 win over the in-form Egyptian Nour El Tayeb.
Massaro is now the only English player left in the tournament after compatriots Sarah-Jane Perry – the 2017 runner-up to Massaro – and Alison Waters fell to Egyptian duo Raneem El Welily and Nour El Sherbini after battling performances. Waters played superbly to threaten a shock win over Sherbini, finally going down 11-5 in the fifth .
A determined Massaro avenged her defeat to El Tayeb in October’s U.S. Open as the 34-year-old from Preston put in a real master-class to record an 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 victory that will see her take on World No.1 El Sherbini in the last four as she appears in a sixth British Open semi-final.
“I’ve done nothing but think about this match since I won the other day and I’ve had my eye on it since the draw came out, without being disrespectful to my two first round opponents, because you can’t take it for granted,” said two-time British Open champion Massaro.
“I’ve seen how Nour has been playing and how she has improved. She is part of the reason that I’ve been training so hard because of how she’s been playing and changing the game and what she’s doing to it.
“But, I also didn’t like the way she showboated and played so amazing against me in the U.S. Open, it was borderline cocky, and I wanted to get my own back for that, but she is bringing a whole different flair and it is what the squash game needs.”
Massaro will aim to end a three-match losing streak to World No.1 El Sherbini in the semi-finals, while El Welily will clash with 2015 British Open champion Camille Serme after the Frenchwoman prevailed in a thrilling five-game battle with Wales’ Tesni Evans.
Serme went 2-1 down after some sublime squash from the Welsh player but the physicality eventually took its toll on her opponent as she ground out an 16-14, 7-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6 victory to bring an end to an entertaining 72-minute clash.
“She has had an amazing season,” said 29-year-old Serme, who will face World Champion Raneem El Welily in the next round. “It was a big battle today and I was enjoying it while we were both working really hard. It’s amazing to have all my staff and team behind me. Greg had already played but stayed to watch me and I’m very lucky.”
The semi-finals of the 2018 British Open begin at 13:00 tomorrow (Saturday May 19) and will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and mainstream broadcast channels around the world, such as BT Sport, beIN Sports, Fox Sports Australia and Astro.
2018 Allam British Open, AirCo Arena, Hull, England.
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Paul Coll (NZL) 3-1: 11-6, 6-11, 12-10, 11-7 (72m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Simon Rösner (GER) 3-0: 11-7, 11-6, 11-5 (35m)
[Q] Raphael Kandra (GER) bt  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 11-7, 11-13, 6-11, 13-11, 11-6 (72m)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt  Ali Farag (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6 (68m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
[Q] Raphael Kandra (GER) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Alison Waters (ENG) 3-2: 6-11, 11-4, 11-13, 11-7, 11-5 (58m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt  Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 (31m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt  Tesni Evans (WAL) 3-2: 16-14, 7-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6 (72m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-1: 11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 11-4 (38m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Laura Massaro (ENG)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Report by SEAN REUTHE. Edited by ALAN THATCHER.
Pictures courtesy of PSA