Friday, December 1, 2023

Houston…Kandra has lift-off


Unseeded German Raphael Kandra disposed of two seeds in the Champion Fiberglass Open in the USA en-route to winning the inaugural PSA World Tour Challenger 10 squash event at Downtown Club at the Met in Houston, Texas.

The quarter-final round became a graveyard for all but one of the event’s seeds – with England’sDeclan James taking top honours by defeating top-seeded New Zealander Martin Knight in a 91-minute marathon, to record one of the best wins of his career.

James endured another 91-minute encounter in the semis – but this time it was fellow non-seedClinton Leeuw who prevailed, winning in five after a 14-12 final game.

Kandra, who ousted Egypt’s No2 seed Andrew Wagih Shoukry in the quarter-finals, removed the final seed Cesar Salazar, the No3 seed from Mexico, in the other semi to set up the final against South African Leeuw.

Both players were celebrating their ninth PSA Tour final appearances – and after the first two games honours were shared.

But Kandra, the 22-year-old world No26 from Paderborn, justified his eight-position higher ranking than Leeuw by taking the next two games from the 31-year-old from Cape Town to clinch an 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9 title triumph in 50 minutes.

The win marks the fourth Tour title of Kandra’s career – but his second in a row.

RESULTS: PSA Challenger 10 Champion Fiberglass Open, Houston, Texas, USA

Declan James (ENG) bt [1] Martin Knight (NZL) 7-11, 13-11, 11-8, 11-9 (91m)
Clinton Leeuw (RSA) bt [4] Arturo Salazar (MEX) 11-6, 4-11, 11-4, 11-6 (41m)
[3] Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Farhan Zaman (PAK) 13-11, 10-12, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5 (59m)
Raphael Kandra (GER) bt [2] Andrew Wagih Shoukry (EGY) 11-4, 11-5, 9-11, 12-10 (45m)
Clinton Leeuw (RSA) bt Declan James (ENG) 8-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-4, 14-12 (91m)
Raphael Kandra (GER) bt [3] Cesar Salazar (MEX) 11-5, 11-5, 11-4 (23m)
Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Clinton Leeuw (RSA) 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9 (50m)


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