3:43 pm
23 Jan 2019

Colombian Rodriguez Becomes First South American British Open Finalist

20 May 2018

Unseeded Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez has become the first South American to reach the final of the British Open Squash Championship in the prestigious event's 96-year history. The 32-year-old from Bogota did so by ending the giant-killing run of German qualifier Raphael Kandra on a day that also saw the defending champions exit the Allam-sponsored event at the Airco Arena in Hull.

Rodriguez, ranked 14 in the world, had followed up an opening round scalp of 2013 champion Ramy Ashour with wins over Omar Mosaad and world No.2 Ali Farag to reach the last four - but was up against one of stars of the tournament, with world No.37 Kandra ending Nick Matthew's final British Open in round two before claiming a massive quarter-final win over third seed Marwan Elshorbagy.

Kandra - the first German to reach the semi-finals of the tournament - troubled Rodriguez at times during the opening stages of the match until, with the scores poised at one-all, the Colombian former world No.4 took control and completed an 11-5, 5-11, 11-4, 11-3 triumph to secure a top eight place on the PSA World Series Standings.

"I think we both didn't have anything to lose," said Rodriguez, who becomes the last player to qualify for next month's ATCO PSA Dubai World Series Finals.

"I had a little bit of pressure, this is a World Series semi-final, so the emotions you feel on court while you are playing are difficult. The first two games were edgy but then I was moving much better and I felt good physically, my shots were deeper, and I think that was the key. I was patient and that helped.

"It's huge [to be in the final], this is one of my dreams when I was a kid and I told myself at the beginning of the year that I wanted to reach a final. I have and I'm very proud."

Rodriguez will line up against world No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy after the Egyptian powerhouse overcame last year's winner and three-time British Open champion Gregory Gaultier to reach his third final at the sport's longest-running tournament.

Elshorbagy and Gaultier contested a highly-entertaining five-game battle, with 27-year-old Elshorbagy's physicality giving him the edge over his 35-year-old French opponent to claim an 8-11, 11-6, 11-6, 3-11, 11-5 win which sees him book his place in a fifth World Series final of the season.

"The first thing I told him after that match was that I absolutely missed him throughout the whole season," said Elshorbagy.

"There are players that can beat you on the day, great players, but there are players who have the consistency to keep it going the whole season. I miss playing against someone who does that, because he has been injured most of the year, but we are the best two players in the world."

Meanwhile, world No.1 Nour El Sherbini and World Champion Raneem El Welily will contest their seventh successive PSA World Tour final after they achieved wins over title holder Laura Massaro and 2015 champion Camille Serme, respectively.

El Sherbini will appear in her third British Open final after she twice came from behind to overcame her English rival Massaro 11-13, 11-4, 11-13, 11-7, 11-5 in 70 minutes.

The Egyptian - who became the first female Egyptian to win the British Open in 2016 - will now compete in a fifth World Series final of the season after avenging her defeat to Massaro in the semi-finals of last year's tournament.

"I'm really happy to win this match," said the 22-year-old from Alexandria.

"It's always really tough to play Laura in Hull, she was playing so good here but I'm really happy that I managed to get back and win the fourth and happy to be in another final.

"The British Open is one of the biggest tournaments we have on the tour, it's an honour to win it once and hopefully I can go on to do it again."

El Welily reached her maiden British Open final courtesy of a 3/1 victory over France's Serme, winning 11-7, 4-11, 12-10, 11-6 in 43 minutes to complete a three-strong Egyptian presence across both the men's and women's finals.

The world No.2 has claimed most of the big titles on the PSA World Tour but the prestigious 'Wimbledon of Squash' is one of the few missing from her expansive collection. El Welily took one step closer to getting her hands on the iconic trophy though after taking a crucial tie-break in the third game en route to completing the victory in four games.

"It's very special and I'm very happy to be in my first final at the British Open," El Welily said.

"I haven't been very lucky in previous years and I'm a little bit gutted to be missing Ramadan back home, but at least I'm in the final and that will make up for it."