World No.21 Nicolas Mueller has become the first Swiss player ever to reach the quarter finals of the Allam British Open after he overcame Germany’s Raphael Kandra in four games at Hull’s Allam Sports Centre.
Before today, Mueller hadn’t reached the last eight of a major PSA World Tour event since the 2018 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions but continued the fine form that saw him reach the semi finals of the Optasia Championships earlier this month as he overcame Kandra by an 11-6, 9-11, 11-5, 12-10 scoreline.
Kandra, a semi finalist at the 2018 British Open, had caused a big upset when he took out three-time winner Mohamed ElShorbagy in the previous round. He fought back from a game down to level the scores against Mueller, but the man from Switzerland was able to outmanoeuvre his opponent in the third and fourth games to earn his spot in the next round.
“Getting to the British Open third round, it doesn’t get much bigger than this, it is one of the most prestigious events on the calendar and I’m very happy to be in the quarter finals,” said Mueller afterwards.
“I’ve changed a few things, my diet changed, I tried to eat less meat and be more fish-based and have less milk. My body has been behaving for three quarters of a year now, and when you know your body is fit, you can play with a different attitude. When I’m feeling good and confident I can hit winners from anywhere and I managed to back it up today.”
Mueller will take on World No.9 Mazen Hesham for a place in the semi finals, with Hesham battling to a 3-2 victory over No.7 seed Marwan ElShorbagy to reach the last eight of the British Open for the third time.
The pair’s clash gives both players the opportunity to reach the last four of this event for the first time, but Mueller will have to end a five-match losing streak against Hesham if he is to continue in the event.
“I think both of us coming into this match are tired, I can see everyone’s faces at this event and we’re all tired. Just to be able to push one more match and one more round, people always talk to me about not being mentally fit, but they haven’t been what I’ve been through, they’ve not got what I’ve got, so I’m sick of all of this and they don’t know anything.”
Two-time runner-up Ali Farag and former World Champion Tarek Momen were the other men’s winners on day three as they beat former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad and Frenchman Baptiste Masotti, respectively.
No.2 seed Hania El Hammamy earned her spot in the quarter finals of the women’s event as she overcame England No.2 Georgina Kennedy in four games. 24-year-old Kennedy was appearing in the third round of this event for the first time and showed her battling spirit to halve the deficit after a strong showing from El Hammamy saw the Egyptian take a two-game lead.
El Hammamy was too good for her opponent in the fourth though as she rattled off a number of winners, and her 11-9, 11-6, 5-11, 11-7 victory will see her take on Belgium’s Tinne Gilis, who beat India’s Joshna Chinappa in straight games to reach the last eight here for the first time.
“We’ve never played but I’ve been watching her a lot, I know she’s a tough opponent and she’s so physical,” El Hammamy said.
“We’ve trained a couple of times, and even in practice, it feels like a best of five. I had to bring my ‘A’ game today, it was so hard but I’m glad I’m through. I had to do a lot of footwork drills so that I was sharp.”
England No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry was also victorious as she put in a clinical display to dispatch Egypt’s Farida Mohamed at the third time of asking following two previous defeats to the World No.22.
“I was bad and it got really scrappy and she’s all over it when it’s scrappy and especially on traditional courts. I love playing on glass courts and I love playing in England up here in Hull, I just wanted to go on and really enjoy it and make it about squash. My normal arguing was left back down in the Midlands, thankfully, I just wanted to stay calm and focused.”
Perry will line up against New Zealand’s Joelle King for a place in the semi finals after King produced a commanding performance to oust Egypt’s Nada Abbas.
The third round of the Allam British Open continues tomorrow (March 31) and play begins at 12:00 (GMT+1). All of the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV.