Legendary Englishman Nick Matthew has exited his final Allam British Open at the second round stage after falling to a surprise defeat against German qualifier Raphael Kandra inside Hull’s Airco Arena on day three of the PSA World Series tournament.
Matthew – a three-time British Open winner – is one of the greatest English players of all time and will retire either after this tournament or after June’s ATCO PSA Dubai World Series Finals, although that will depend on whether he can retain his place inside the top eight on the PSA World Series Standings, which is under threat from Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez and New Zealand’s Paul Coll, as that will see him qualify for Dubai.
Kandra – who had upset World No.27 Mathieu Castagnet in round one – proved too much for the 37-year-old Yorkshireman to handle and his 9-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-8 triumph will see him join compatriot Simon Rösner in the last eight in what will be the first time that two German players have reached the quarter-finals of this tournament at the same time.
“I would like to congratulate Nick on an amazing career, he’s 37 and he’s still playing at this level,” said Kandra.
“For me it was such a tough match because I was pushing through and he is so experienced so was trying everything at the end.
“I just said yesterday when you expect to do well in a match you lose for some reason and whenever you don’t expect anything you go on court relaxed and there is no pressure on you, you enjoy it and that’s when the best results come out. I was very happy and I’m really looking forward to the quarter-finals.”
After his last ever appearance at a ranking PSA World Tour event, Matthew said: “I have so many good memories of playing in England and that’s why I’m disappointed that I didn’t get on a bit further.
Nick Matthew waves to the crowd
“Mentally I still have that desire and I know how to beat all the top guys, but my body hates playing them now so maybe now is the right time to go.”
Kandra will play World No.3 Marwan ElShorbagy in the last eight after the Egyptian defeated Mexico’s Cesar Salazar in four games, while Colombia’s former World No.4 Miguel Angel Rodriguez overcame World No.17 Omar Mosaad in a win that could have a major impact on who qualifies for the men’s event at the World Series Finals.
Rodriguez’s quarter-final berth in Hull has given him 25 points on the PSA World Series Standings, which means he now sits 10 points behind Matthew. A win over quarter-final opponent Ali Farag in the next round would see Rodriguez amass 40 points instead which will see him leapfrog Matthew to claim a place amongst the top eight in the final PSA World Series tournament of the season.
However, New Zealand’s Coll is still in with a shout of qualifying but he will need to reach the final if he is to make it to Dubai at the expense of Matthew and Rodriguez.
“I’m happy with my performance so far and I’m enjoying the tour, especially this year,” said World No.14 Rodriguez
“It’s a privilege playing the British Open, I’m the only player from South America in the quarters, I’m pushing myself and I’m happy with my achievements so far.”
The women’s event will feature four British quarter-finalists for the first time since 2002 after Tesni Evans of Wales and England’s Sarah-Jane Perry joined English duo Laura Massaro and Alison Waters – who played yesterday – in the last eight.
Evans has become the first female Welsh player of all time to reach the quarter-finals of the sport’s longest-running tournament as she put in an immaculate performance to beat New Zealand’s Commonwealth Games gold medalist Joelle King.
Rhyl-based Evans – who won a bronze medal of her own last month in Australia – put the Kiwi on the back foot throughout the encounter and she claimed an 11-9, 11-8, 11-6 victory to become the first Welsh player since former World No.5 and current PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough to qualify for the last eight.
“We have played so many times in practice, not so much on the PSA World Tour but in practice we have and we both know each other so well, so it was just going to be a case of who did it better today,” said Evans.
“Fortunately, I did that but it was not an easy match at all, she is a very good friend of mine, but someone had to win today.
“I’ve been able to play well in this tournament. I like playing in the UK anyway and being home and it’s good to bring a Welsh person into the quarter-finals again here.”
Evans will take on 2015 winner Camille Serme after she eased past Australia’s Donna Urquhart – a win which sees her qualify for the World Series Finals – while Perry claimed a win in straight games against Hong Kong’s Annie Au.
Perry – a runner-up at last year’s tournament – will line up against World Champion Raneem El Welily for a place in the semi-finals after she came back from 2-0 down and three match balls down to avoid a shock loss to England’s Victoria Lust.
El Welily was staring down the barrel of defeat as World No.15 Lust hit winners from all over the court to go two games ahead. However, El Welily displayed strong mental resilience as she dug in to take the third and fourth games – fighting back from 10-7 down in the latter – before powering to an 11-4 triumph in the decider to book her place in the last four.
“I wasn’t playing my best and was on my way back home but I’m really happy to still be here and play again tomorrow,” El Welily said.
“It’s a special tournament for me, I’ve never made it to the final and I’ve only made it to the semis a few times, so I’m happy to be in the quarters again this year and tomorrow I will fight again harder.”
The quarter-finals of the prestigious British Open begin tomorrow at 12:00 local time (BST), with coverage shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
Results – Men’s Second Round (Bottom Half): 2018 Allam British Open
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-1: 12-10, 5-11, 11-6, 11-8 (45m)
[Q] Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Nick Matthew (ENG) 3-1: 9-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-8 (58m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-1: 11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 11-2 (44m)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 7-11, 12-10, 11-1 (51m)
Draw – Men’s Quarter-Finals: To Be Played May 18th
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Paul Coll (NZL)
 Simon Rösner (GER) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v [Q] Raphael Kandra (GER)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
Results – Women’s Second Round (Bottom Half): 2018 Allam British Open
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 3-0: 11-9, 11-8, 11-6 (39m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt  Donna Urquhart (AUS) 3-0: 11-9, 11-4, 11-7 (29m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt  Annie Au (HKG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 (25m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Victoria Lust (ENG) 3-2: 9-11, 4-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-4 (49m)
Draw – Women’s Quarter-Finals: To Be Played May 18th
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Alison Waters (ENG)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) v  Camille Serme (FRA)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)