Qatar Classic 2021. Raphael Kandra advances to the Quarterfinals

Squash Emcee Andy Taylor. 2021 Qatar Classic. Match 36. Round 3. Raphael Kandra def Marwan Elshorbagy. Match Recap

Round of 16 match recap from Squash Emcee Andy Taylor, Voice of the Qatar Classic.

Since 2017, Andy Taylor has been the voice of the Qatar Classic Squash Championship. With his individual style and delivery, Andy writes and narrates each player’s introduction; highlighting career accomplishments, providing context for fans before each match. As tournament emcee, Andy also interviews the winners and hosts the trophy ceremony at the conclusion of the championship.

In addition to his role with the Qatar Squash Federation, Taylor also hosts Doha’s professional tennis events, the Qatar ExxonMobil Open and Qatar Total Open.

A voice acting veteran, Andy is best known as the Voice of the US Open in New York. There, he has spent the last 20-years shaping the sound of the tennis season’s final Grand Slam; enhancing the fan experience. Informing. Entertaining. Celebrating sport and its colorful cast of characters.

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Seventh meeting. Kandra’s second momentous Platinum win over Elshorbagy.

Round of 16 opponents here in Doha last year – it was deja-vu all over again for these two top talents. Last year, Marwan earned a 3-game victory in 34-minutes. Clearly, this was a different narrative. In total they’ve now met seven times on the PSA World Tour. 3-years-ago, Kandra upset Elshorbagy in a five game thriller at the British Open, and reached his first PSA Platinum Semifinal.

Raphael Kandra -22- (GER) | Round of 16 Emcee Introduction

At 30-years-old, he is a Platinum Semifinalist, owns 14 career PSA titles, and has been ranked as high as World #13. Yesterday, down 2-games-to-1, he came back to defeat India’s Mahesh Mangaonkar – and is through to the Round of 16 here in Doha for the second time. In fact, in just the past 3-years, he’s now reached the Final-16 of 9 PSA Platinums; a impressive run that all began at the 2018 British Open – where as a qualifier, he upset former World #1 Nick Matthew en-route to his first Major Semifinal. Back in the Glass here in Doha; battling for a spot in his second Major Quarterfinal – From Germany, please welcome 3-time German Nationals Champion, Raphael Kandra.

  • R3 — W — [4] Marwan Elshorbagy -05- (EGY) | Score: 12-14, 11-3, 10-12, 11-5, 11-7 (58m)
  • R2 — W — Mahesh Mangaonkar -55- (IND) | 11-7, 7-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-4 (59m) | RECAP
  • R1 — W — Abdulrahman Al-Malki -126- (QAT) | Score: 11-2, 11-7, 11-5 (22m) | RECAP
  • Earlier this month at the US Open, Kandra reached the Round of 16 at a PSA Platinum event for the 8th time. Yesterday, down 2-1, he came back to reach his 9th Platinum Round of 16
  • Today, the German knocked-out the World #5 to reach his first Platinum Quarterfinal since his crazy run to the 2018 British Open Semifinals (as a qualifier)
  • Marwan was also his Quarterfinal victim at the 2018 British Open
[4] Marwan Elshorbagy -05- (EGY) | Round of 16 Emcee Introduction

The #4-seed in this year’s draw, this 28-year-old is a 2-time PSA Platinum Champion, a World Tour Finals champion, and was the Finalist at the 2017 World Championship in Manchester. Ranked as high as World #3 – in all, he owns 12 PSA titles and is a 22-time Finalist on Tour. Nine years ago, he went undefeated here at Khalifa – capturing both the individual and team titles at the 2012 World Junior Championship. In 2019, he defeated brother Mohamed on this court, to reach the Semifinals of the PSA Men’s World Championship. Back in Doha for his 7th Qatar Q-Terminals Classic – yesterday, down 2-games-to-1, he came back to defeat Borja Golan in a deciding game thriller to reach tonight’s Round of 16 match. From Egypt, please welcome World #5, “The Jackyl” Marwan Elshorbagy.

  • R3 — L — Raphael Kandra -22- (GER) | Score: 14-12, 3-11, 12-10, 5-11, 7-11 (58m)
  • R2 — W — Borja Golan -30- (ESP) | Score: 11-9, 10-12, 11-13, 11-7, 11-6 (65m) | RECAP
  • R1 — BYE
  • In 2018, Marwan captured his first Major in El Gouna and jumped to a career-high ranking of World #3
  • He followed up the breakthrough triumph with a Quarterfinal run at the British Open, then didn’t play again until the following January
  • By April of 2019, he’d dropped outside the top-20 – but righted the ship in May, capturing the PSA Bronze title at the 2019 Wimbledon Club Open
  • During the 2019-20 season, he made deep runs in four of his first five events – including a run to the Semifinals of the 2019 PSA World Championship in Doha, where he defeated Mohamed Elshorbagy in the Quarterfinals. By the end of the year, he was back inside the top-10
  • But early 2020 wasn’t easy. He lost his opening matches at both the Tournament of Champions and Windy City Open – where during his loss to Youssef Soliman, Marwan was levied code violations for verbal abuse, unsportsmanlike conduct and racquet abuse
  • After the global pandemic lockdowns – Elshorbagy returned with renewed determination. He beat World #1 Farag to reach the Semifinals of the Manchester Open; captured the PSA World Tour Finals with wins over both Farag and Karim Abdel Gawad; then in Giza, made his 8th career Semifinal run at a PSA Platinum
  • Following a Quarterfinal appearance here in Doha, the PSA World Tour levied a one-month suspension against Marwan for the code violations at the Windy City Open
  • When Marwan returned in March, he put his head down and go to work – capturing his second PSA Platinum title at the Black Ball Open in Cairo; where he defeated Paul Coll, Joel Maken and Fares Dessouky – and broke back inside the top-5
  • Elshorbagy finds himself back in Doha, hungry for another deep run at a Major. At the US Open, he lost his opening match to James Willstrop

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Squash Emcee Andy Taylor. Qatar Classic 2020. Champions in Doha 1992 to Today

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For nearly three decades, the Qatar Squash Federation has hosted the sport’s elite at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex. Originally coined the Qatar International, Pakistan’s Jansher Khan captured the first five Doha titles from 1992 to 1996. Canada’s Jonathan Power then won back-to-back Doha titles over Scotland’s Peter Nichol; earning triumphs at the 1997 Qatar International and the 1998 World Championship.

Enter the Qatar Classic Squash Championship

After a two year absence, professional squash returned to Doha in 2001. Rebranded the Qatar Classic, Peter Nichol – now representing England – again reached back-to-back Doha Finals. This time, he captured the first two Qatar Classic titles over Australia’s David Palmer. England’s Lee Beachill and James Willstrop won the next two Qatar Classic titles, before Egypt began its outright Doha dominance.

In fact, since Ramy Ashour became the first Egyptian Doha champion at the 2006 Qatar Classic; the Arab nation has won 13 of the last 15 Doha titles, including three World Championships. Alexandria’s Mohamed Elshorbagy – the only 3-time Qatar Classic Champion – reached a record six consecutive finals on this court between 2012 and 2017. Most recently, Ali Farag won back-to-back Qatar Classic titles in 2018 and 2020. Unfortunately, the World #1 won’t be back in Doha this year to defend the title.

Professional Squash and COVID-19

Like every international sport, the recent global pandemic has created tremendous challenges for squash events worldwide. Due to COVID’s insidious spread, the 2019-20 season ended abruptly in March; immediately following Mohamed Elshorbagy’s victory at the 2020 Canary Wharf Classic.

Without fans, the sport launched its return six months later in Manchester – another Elshorbagy triumph. However, with global cases hitting a second surge, all events in the United Kingdom, United States and Asia were shuttered. The 2020-2021 season was in peril. At the time, as a U.S. resident, Andy Taylor made the difficult decision to suspend all international travel. Reluctantly, he stepped away from his role as emcee at the 2020 Qatar Classic.

Saviors. The Qatar Squash Federation and CIB’s CEO Hussein Abaza of Egypt

Over the next 10-months, Qatar and Egypt were the only two nations to host PSA Platinum events. Without the U.S. Open. Hong Kong Open. New York’s Tournament of Champions. The Windy City Open. And British Open — The sport needed bold and determined intervention.

Cautiously, the QSF moved forward with the Qatar Classic, providing a COVID safe bubble for players and crew. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Hussein Abaza went above and beyond. Remarkably, CIB’s CEO spearheaded two PSA World Tour Finals, the Egyptian Open, two Black Ball Opens and El Gouna International. From September to June, he funded six expensive, top-tier PSA events for both the men’s and women’s tours. Egypt became the hub of the sport – a safe place to compete while vaccinations took hold; while the world recovered.

Thankfully, since July, much of the globe has slowly opened back up. Chicago hosted the World Championships. Hull welcomed the sport’s elite for the British Open. Last month, it was only fitting that the 2021-22 season began in front of the pyramids at Giza. True to form, Egyptian rivals Ali Farag and Mohamed Elshorbagy headlined the event; delivering an exceptional 5-game Final, where Farag lifted his 9th Platinum trophy.

A Sport Back on Track, thanks to human compassion and ingenuity

After September’s Egyptian Open, the U.S. swing was also a tremendous success. From San Francisco to the US Open’s immaculate new Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia; fans responsibly returned, recently tested or fully vaccinated. All starved to once again see the best in the world compete inside the glass.

Now, squash returns to the Arab Gulf for the 17th Qatar Classic Squash Championship.

Thankfully, as global vaccinations continue their ascent, the new squash season is beginning to follow a familiar path. While the past 19-months have been dark, spotlighting the reality of human fragility; it has also been an epoch defined by compassion, resilience and hope. Squash, as a sport and lifestyle, embodies these traits.

When we choose to quiet the noise, steel our determination, and commit to selflessly work together toward collective good; ultimately toward survival — the darkness is no match for our blinding ingenuity.

No, the fight isn’t over. But we’ve hit some astonishing nicks, and continue to edge closer toward “match ball.”