Day 2. Round 1. Nick Matthew

Andy Taylor. Sports Emcee. Qatar Classic Squash Championship. Day 2. Round 1. Nick Matthew

Sports Emcee. Andy Taylor. Qatar Classic 2017

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[4] Nick Matthew (ENG) def [Q] Raphael Kandra (GER) 12-10 11-9 5-11 8-11 11-8 (64-min)

At 37-years-old, this is Nick Matthew’s final season on tour. A two-time Finalist in Doha, he captured the Qatar Classic title in 2009 with a 3-game win over Karim Darwish. In 2013, he fell in five to Mohamed Elshorbagy.

Raphael Kandra is playing the Main Draw of the Qatar Classic for the first time. Yesterday, he had time off to celebrate his 27th birthday; a much needed day of rest after qualifying wins over Qatar’s Umair Zaman and a deciding-game shoot-out with Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller.

Nick Matthew. The Wolf

The man is a living squash legend; one of the most consistent and accomplished talents ever to grace the glass court. He’s a 3-time PSA World Champion, a 3-time Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist, owns 35 PSA Tour titles, and has reached a remarkable 75 career Finals. He’s held the World #1 ranking for a combined 19-months, and since June of 2010, has been ranked inside the top-5 for an astounding 8-years and 4-months. Last February, he won his 6th consecutive and 9th British National Championship; and 11-years-ago, became the first Englishman to win the British Open in 67-years. He’s appeared in the Finals of PSA World Series events 36-times, and owns 15 PSA World Series titles. In his 13th and final Qatar Classic Squash Championship, he’s determined to leave it all on the court for fans in Doha.

Raphael Kandra

Raphael now owns 13 PSA Tour titles and has competed in 20 career Finals . After an exciting win over Mueller Saturday and his birthday yesterday, he comes into Main Draw play truly feeling like there’s nothing to lose. What an opportunity – to have that type of mindset against one of the greatest to ever play the game.

Incredible Kandra Comeback, Yet a victory for the Wolf

Raphael Kandra played a hell of a match against a more rested Nick Matthew. The German stayed neck-and-neck with Nick through the first game, saving two game balls to force the tiebreak. Two exquisite shots later, Matthew spoiled the turn-around.

In game-2, down 5-9, Kandra battled back again, leveling it at 9-all. Nick then tucked one in the corner, before Raphael coughed-up an unforced error – and just like that, Kandra was down 2-games to love. For the Matthew faithful, all was going according to plan.

Rapha’s Resurgence

Let’s be honest, when down 0-2 to the Wolf, most simply capitulate. Not that opponents really have a choice. When Nick sees blood, he has a gift for finishing-off prey quickly. This evening, Kandra made sure he wasn’t Nick’s standard fare.

In games three and four, Raphael strung together several surges, allowing Nick only 5-points in the third and 8 in the fourth. We were nearly an hour into the match and this was getting interesting.

The fifth was an aggressive refection of the first two games

Nick was pissed at himself for opening the door. Kandra had already gone five this week and was convinced he could deliver another win. They traded points through 8-all before the Wolf ran away with the win. (FULL MATCH RECAP)

Nick Matthew: He’s improved so much…there were patches were I felt self-critical and I wasn’t getting it right. I was hitting hard and running with him which was silly because he’s much younger, but finally at the end I started to use my brain and my experience which shows you it’s never too late, even 8-8 in the 5th!

I got out of jail today, but in the middle of the game I was mentally booking my flight back home, I was calling Mel from SquashTravel and arranging the change of flight then I told myself come on, you can win, just win ugly, just win ugly. But as last year, I couldn’t get it right in the first round, I think that Qatar has seen enough ugly squash from me. But I don’t want to discredit him, he rushed me and hurried me and pressured me, this court suits him and his attacking game – I have to go away and learn and focus on my own thing and not worry about anyone else. Hopefully I’ll be better tomorrow.

I don’t think anyone questions…he will be.