Day ONE : Last Eight Decided

Men’s seeds through to quarters as Lazarus and Kandra gategrash women’s last eight

The AJ Bell European Individual Closed 2017 kicked off today at the David Ross Sports Village at the University of Nottingham with two rounds of play in each draw, across three courts including the all-Glass,  which saw the quarter-finalists decided.

The first two matches were women’s ‘qualifying’ in which Switzerland’s Cindy Merlo and Czech Zuzana Kubanova rounded out the women’s last sixteen.

Eight men’s matches followed, with all but one of the 9/16 seeds progressing to the men’s second round, where they would face seeded opponents who were enjoying a restful morning.

The exception was Hungary’s Balázs Farkas who, in the longest match of the day, overame Czech Ondrej Uherka in a tough five game battle lasting 80 minutes.

In men’s round two all of the afternoon winners fell as the top eight seeds made it through to the quarter-finals. The morning effort told on Farkas, who kept Swiss birthday boy Nicolas Mueller on court for just 15 minutes – the shortest match of the day!

The closest to an upset came when Portugal’s Rui Suarez led Raphael Kandra two games to one, but the newly-married German recovered to take the next two games to claim his place in the last eight.

The top four women’s seeds also won through to the quarters, but there were some lower seeding upsets as England’s Elise Lazarus and Germany’s Sina Kandra – newly married to Raphael – produced upsets.

Lazarus was the last player to enter the draw, coming in as a replacement for Emily Whitlock just days ago, and was the first player to reach the quarter-finals as she overcame Latvia’s Ineta Mackevica in four games.

“I got a call four days ago from David Campion [England coach] and I was so excited to be in I gave my mum a big hug!” said Lazarus.

“I played good squash for the first two games, but then lost a bit of focus as her game improved. I was down in the fourth too, but managed to get my game back and take that one.

“It’s amazing to be in the quarters, and hopefully I’ve got a few years left playing this tournament. There’s no pressure on me tomorrow playing Camille, I’ll just give it my best shot.”

Kandra survived a tough five setter to beat Czech Anna Serme – she was a game behind twice, was 3-7 down in the fifth, and saved two match balls before finally taking the decider 13-11.

“I’ve had a lot of time off and some holidays recently with the wedding,” admitted Kandra. “So I was a bit up and down, I was just hanging in really and a bit lucky to win in athe end after Anna made two errors on her match balls.

“I was so happy to win in the end though, and I’m looking forward to playing Millie tomorrow.”

The quarter-finals, with French top seeds Gregory Gaultier and Camille Serme going for their tenth and sixth EIC titles,  are all on the glass court, starting at 13.00.



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