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Shahjahan Khan in action

Kandra and Khan Survive Five-Game Battles As Houston Open Begins

Germany’s Raphael Kandra and home hope Shahjahan Khan both had to hold their nerve in their opening matches at the Houston Open, with both men battling through in five to book their spots in the second round at Houston Squash Club in Texas.

USA’s Khan had to wait until the end of the day’s play before getting his chance to show what he could do in front of his home crowd, as he got the better of Frenchman Lucas Serme in an 81-minute battle.

Serme started strongly, coming back from a deficit to win the first game on a tie-break, but Khan took a 2-1 advantage in the contest, with the American hitting some tighter lines in that period of the match, and finding himself in front of his opponent on the court.

The Frenchman was able to recover to take the fourth to send the clash into a deciding game, where Khan then had to save match balls to come from 10-8 down in the fifth. He won four straight points to keep the Frenchman at bay, winning it 12-10 to secure his spot in the second round at Houston Squash Club.

“Credit to Lucas, he fought well! I thought he was done in the fourth but again all respect to him as an experienced player. We are good friends, he gave respect. Last time we played four games and it was longer than this so I knew what would happen and I was mentally fit today,” Khan said after the match.

“It was physical, but it was also mental playing a good friend. My coaches, including Ong Beng Hee, he has been really helpful! Bridget from US Squash, Adam and all these guys. My mental game is all because of one guy, a close friend of my late uncle. He has been really helpful.

“To be honest, because of lockdown, everyone was in the same boat. I was really depressed, I didn’t know what was going to happen and I had some issues personally, but I feel like I fought well today.”

Earlier on in the day, Germany’s Raphael Kandra featured in the first match on Tour in 2022, as he came up against Sebastien Bonmalais, and it was the man from France who held the early lead after some pulsating squash.

Raphael Kandra

However, after finding himself two games down, Kandra was able to switch the momentum back in his favour, and he came through to win the contest in a deciding fifth game to book his spot in the second round at Houston Squash Club, where he will face World No.1 Ali Farag.

“I thought I had a plan in the beginning. I wasn’t playing too bad, I was leading 7-1 in the first game but couldn’t control my game plan. I was overwhelmed, he fought back and I had no plan to fight against it so I just let him go in the first game.” Kandra explained.

“The second was similar, I was leading and he fought back and he really wanted to win that game and for me I was missing that extra force to go though so I was 2-0 down quite quickly. But I thought to myself this is not how I want to play or start the new year and I fought back, not sure how and I got into his head a little and experience makes a big difference.

“I said to him in the end that he played well and gave me a good match but of course he’s not happy losing a match from 2-0 up, but overall I’m pleased with the win.

Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller also required a deciding game to make it through his first round clash in Houston, as he got the better USA’s Faraz Khan, while Egypt’s Mohamed ElSherbini went the distance as well, in his battle with USA’s Todd Harrity, eventually coming out the victor.

Due to the withdrawal of World No.3, and the tournament’s No.2 seed, Mohamed ElShorbagy, in the hour prior to the action beginning, there will be a ‘Lucky Loser’ in the second round, to take the place of the ‘Beast from Alexandria’. That draw will be made early Wednesday morning, ahead of second round action starting.

The second round begins tomorrow, Wednesday, January 5, at 17:00 (GMT-6) with live action being shown on SQUASHTV.

For more information on the Houston Open, visit the PSA World Tour's website or follow the PSA World Tour on Twitter and Facebook.

First Round Results: Houston Open
Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Sebastien Bonmalais (FRA) 3-2: 10-12, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-5 (74m)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-0: 18-16, 11-9, 11-7 (61m)
Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) bt Todd Harrity (USA) 3-2: 8-11, 11-5, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7 (69m)
Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) bt Declan James (ENG) 3-0: 14-12, 11-8, 11-6 (47m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt [WC] Nasir Iqbal (PAK) 3-0: 12-10, 12-10, 5-10 retired (40m)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Faraz Khan (USA) 3-2: 11-8, 8-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-4 (67m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Bernat Jaume (ESP) 3-0: 11-7, 11-7, 11-1 (27m)
Shahjahan Khan (USA) bt Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-2: 10-12, 11-9, 11-6, 8-11, 12-10 (81m)

Second Round Draw (Top Half): Houston Open (To Be Played Wednesday 5th)
[1] Ali Farag (EGY) v Raphael Kandra (GER)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) v [8] Youssef Ibrahim (EGY)
[5] Miguel Rodriguez (COL) v Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY)
Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) v [3] Mostafa Asal (EGY)

Second Round Draw (Bottom Half): Houston Open (To Be Played Thursday 6th)
[4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Cesar Salazar (MEX)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v [6] Mazen Hesham (EGY)
[7] Gregoire Marche (FRA) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Shahjahan Khan (USA) v [Lucky Loser]

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