One of the standout moments of the 2017/18 season saw Germany’s Raphael Kandra announce himself to the squash community with a remarkable run to the semi-finals of the Allam British Open last month – becoming the first German to do so.
The 27-year-old began his journey in qualification and, after battling through to the main draw, followed up a fine win over France’s Mathieu Castagnet with a stunning upset of three-time champion Nick Matthew in round two – but greater things were to come from Paderborn-based Kandra.
Coming up against World No.3 Marwan ElShorbagy – who was in the form of his life having claimed a maiden World Series title at the El Gouna International the previous month – Kandra put in a display full of grit and endeavour as he fought back from 2-1 down to claim a famous victory.
Kandra, then ranked at World No.37, took the first game after a confident start but ElShorbagy battled back to win the second after prevailing on the tie-break.
ElShorbagy’s big-match experience looked as though it could see him through to another World Series semi-final when, with the scores locked at 5-5 in the third, he pulled away to claim six of the next seven points, building up a 2-1 lead to leave him on the verge of a last four berth.
Kandra, however, had other ideas and, roared on by spectators at Hull’s Airco Arena, the left-hander edged a dramatic tie-break to set up a crucial decider.
The fifth game saw Kandra play some spell-binding squash as he homed in on a shock result and, after building up four match balls, a deft drop into the left-hand corner capped one of the biggest shocks the ‘Wimbledon of Squash’ has ever seen.
Defeat to eventual winner Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the next round brought an end to Kandra’s giant-killing run but his victories over the likes of Matthew and ElShorbagy will go down in the annals of the famous tournament and could be a springboard for a future move into the world’s top 20.
Their match was named as the PSA Men’s Match of the Season at the PSA Awards gala held on the eve of the ATCO PSA Dubai World Series Finals earlier this month.
Log in to SQUASHTV to watch Kandra’s second round victory over Kandra’s second round victory over Matthew.