Kandra Conquers Rodriguez To Reach China Open Quarters
7 Sep 2018
World No.22 Raphael Kandra sent second seed Miguel Angel Rodriguez crashing out of the JP Morgan China Open after a sublime display in the PSA World Tour Gold event saw the German claim a victory in straight games at the Peninsula Shanghai overlooking the spectacular Shanghai Bund.
Kandra ended the 2017/18 season on a high with a breathtaking run to the semi-finals of the British Open, with eventual title winner Rodriguez - who last week won gold at the PanAmerican Squash Championships - getting the better of the 27-year-old.
But Kandra avenged that defeat with a controlled and peerless performance that saw him test Rodriguez in the front corners in particular, with the world No.6 lacking his usual dynamism around court as he slumped to an 12-10, 11-7, 11-7 defeat.
"I was really motivated, I've lost to him the last two times in the British Open so I really wanted revenge today," said Kandra.
"I felt quite comfortable on the court today, I don't think he was too comfortable moving towards the front and I made use of it. I tried to put balls away at the front, stay away from his retrieving abilities and it worked out in the end.
"You keep training harder and harder because you want to beat the top guys. I've been on the tour for over nine years now and I think the more matches you have on tour, the more experience you get and then suddenly you start to believe in beating the top guys."
Kandra will take on India's Saurav Ghosal for a place in the semi-finals after the Indian number one defeated Scotland's Greg Lobban on a day that also saw top seed Simon Rösner begin his tournament with victory over Malaysia's Nafiizwan Adnan.
The German laid down a marker for the rest of the tournament as he put in a powerful performance despite the humidity and he gave Adnan little time to settle on the ball as the title favourite closed out an 11-5, 11-9, 11-5 triumph in 45 minutes.
"I'm feeling good but missing a bit of match practice and competition," said the recently-married Rösner.
"It's very good to get off with a 3/0 win and I'll be able to save energy for tomorrow's match which will be another tough one as always."
Up next for the world No.5 is Welshman Joel Makin - who upset former world No.3 Omar Mosaad - while 2015 winner Gregory Gaultier dispatched Adrian Waller to ensure that he will face Mohamed Abouelghar next.
World No.10 Paul Coll was also in action as he downed Scotland's Alan Clyne. The Kiwi's reward is a quarter-final clash with Qatar's Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi, who upset Swiss number eight seed Nicolas Mueller in the 200th PSA World Tour match of his career.
The women's quarter-finals will be lit up by the prospect of reigning World Champion Raneem El Welily taking on eight-time World Champion Nicol David after they achieved wins over wildcard Li Dongjin and 2015 winner Laura Massaro, respectively.
El Welily didn't quite hit her stride in the early parts of her encounter, with Li - who upset former world No.4 Omneya Abdel Kawy in the previous round - holding game balls on four separate occasions as she threatened to take an unlikely lead. The Egyptian held her nerve to come back to win the opener 15-13 though and she sailed to 11-6 victories in each of the next two games to earn her place in the last eight.
"The first match of the season is always tough mentally, you're still trying to work things out and see how you feel on court," said El Welily.
"I always expect the unexpected from Nicol, she's so good and she definitely played really well to beat Laura today. I'm excited to see how she's playing and to see how I can play against her."
David rolled back the years at SECA Academy as she put in a superb display reminiscent of the ones she enjoyed during her nine years at the top of the PSA World Rankings.
The 35-year-old- who saw her unprecedented reign at world No.1 ended by El Welily in September 2015 - had lost to Massaro on four of their previous five meetings but she got the better of the English player this time around, winning 11-6, 11-6, 11-7 to earn her place in the quarter-finals.
"I had a good run throughout the match today against Laura and was very pleased with my performance to win 3/0," said 2013 China Open champion David.
"It's been some time since playing her and I knew we would have a battle, so I was going to push hard today. I'm so excited to be on the glass tomorrow."
Elsewhere, defending champion Nour El Sherbini overcame Wales' Tesni Evans to set up a repeat of last year's final with world No.6 Nouran Gohar - who fought back from two games down to beat world No.15 Salma Hany - while there were also wins for Camille Serme, Nour El Tayeb, Sarah-Jane Perry and Joshna Chinappa.