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Madeira International 2015
21-25 Jul, Canico, Madeira, Portugal, $5k

25-Jul, Final:
Serial winner Koukal triumphs in Madeira
Michael Catling reports

Czech No.1 Jan Koukal has become the joint second most successful player on the current PSA World Tour after notching his 33rd career title at the Madeira International in Caniço, Portugal.

The second seed overcame English rising star George Parker 6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-6 to tie Amr Shabana and Nick Matthew in the title stakes and inflict a third successive final defeat on Parker in as many months.

Victory at the second edition of the $5kevent also secured back-to-back titles for the 32-year-old from Prague, following his success at the Château-Arnoux Open earlier this month.

“It was my first time playing in Madeira so it feels extra special to win here,” said a delighted Koukal. “It was a really tough match, especially after playing my semi final against Lyell [Fuller] earlier in the day.

“George started really well and put me under a lot of pressure. He actually surprised me with the way he was playing so it took me a couple of games to adapt and change my strategy. I didn't feel very sharp in the first game but I started moving a lot better in the second and I managed to control the rest of the match.”

Parker, meanwhile, was left to rue an error-strewn display in which he accrued eight unforced errors in the third game alone.

The third seed from Leicester - positioned 35 places above Koukal in the world rankings - appeared in cruise control in the opening exchanges and punished a number of loose shots from Koukal to take the first game.

The duo traded blows in the second game but with the scores tied at nine-apiece, Parker tinned a routine drop shot to hand Koukal the advantage. The former world No.39, who needed five games to defeat Parker's fellow countryman Lyell Fuller in the last four, duly converted his first game ball with a clinging backhand drive to level the arrears.

A seething Parker took his frustrations out on his own racket, and later received a conduct warning for equipment abuse as the world No.113 struggled to hide his emotions. His mood was not helped by the outcome of the third game, as Koukal benefitted from Parker's generosity at the front of the court to strengthen his foothold on proceedings.

With the error count racking up, Parker lost five of the first six points in the corresponding game and appeared resigned to another final defeat.

Three tinned drop shots from Koukal, punctuated by a fortuitous bounce off the back wall, gave Parker hope, but the 16-time Czech Nationals champion quickly regained the initiative and exploited Parker's erratic hitting to prevail in 48 minutes.

Commenting on his 19-year-old opponent, Koukal added: “I know George is desperate to win his first title but he is still young and will have plenty of chances in the future. He deserves a big congratulations for reaching the final because he caused a huge upset beating the top seed in the semi final.”

Madeira International 2015
21-25 Jul, Madeira, Portugal, $5k
Round One
23 Jul 
24 Jul
25 Jul
25 Jul
[1] Alejandro Garbi (Esp)
 11/2, 5/11, 11/5, 11/7 (34m)
[Q] Brian Byrne (Irl)
[1] Alejandro Garbi
11/8, 11/1, 11/6 (33m)
[7] Joe Green
[1] Alejandro Garbi

 2/11, 11/3, 11/8, 11/6 (34m)

[3] George Parker

[3] George Parker


6/11, 11/9, 11/8, 11/6 (48m)


[2] Jan Koukal

[7] Joe Green (Eng)
11/8, 11/5, 11/8 (32m)
[Q] Sam Ellis (Eng)
[8] Tristan Eysele (Rsa)
 11/3, 3/11, 9/11, 11/4, 11/8 (41m)
[Q] Omar El Tahry (Egy)
[8] Tristan Eysele
15/13, 11/6, 5/11, 11/9 (37m)
[3] George Parker
[3] George Parker (Eng)
12/10, 11/6, 11/6 (23m)
Remo Handl (Sui)
[Q] Pascal Gomez (Esp)
11/7, 11/4, 11/4 (31m)
[4] Mark Fuller (Eng)
[4] Mark Fuller
7/11, 5/11, 11/5, 11/8, 11/9 (66m)
[5] Lyell Fuller
[5] Lyell Fuller

11/7, 3/11, 11/6, 7/11, 11/5 (57m)

[2] Jan Koukal

Claudio Pinto (Por)
11/6, 11/6, 11/5 (43m)
[5] Lyell Fuller (Eng)
Tom De Mulder (Bel)
11/6, 11/5, 9/11, 11/5 (29m)
[6] Rui Sares (Por)
[6] Rui Sares
7/11, 11/7, 11/6, 11/7 (40m)
[2] Jan Koukal
Joeri Hapers (Bel)
11/9, 11/9, 11/3 (28m)
[2] Jan Koukal (Cze)
22 Jul, Qualifying Finals:

Sam Ellis (Eng) 3-0 Ricardo Santos (Por)              11/3, 11/8, 11/2 (15m)
Pascal Gomez (Esp) 3-0 Pedro Gomes (Por)      11/3, 12/10, 13/11 (18m)
Omar El Tahry (Egy) 3-0 Gonçalo Miranda (Por)    11/3, 11/3, 11/5 (13m)

Brian Byrne (Irl) 3-1 Roshan Bharos (Ned)    11/8, 8/11, 11/1, 11/7 (39m)

21 Jul, Qualifying Round One:

Sam Ellis (Eng) 3-0 Antonio Gomes (Por)              11/2, 11/3, 1/1 (13m)
Ricardo Santos (Por) 3-0 Luis Ferreira (Por)      13/11, 11/2, 12/10 (25m)
Pedro Gomes (Por) 3-0 Carlos Delgado (Por)        11/2, 11/3, 11/9 (15m)
Pascal Gomez (Esp) 3-0 Milton Teixeira (Por)        11/3, 11/3, 11/4 (15m)
Omar El Tahry (Egy) 3-0 Michael Conroy (Irl)       11/0, 11/1, 11/5 (14m)
Gonçalo Miranda (Por) 3-0 João Gonçalves (Por)  11/1, 11/7, 11/2 (14m)
Brian Byrne (Irl) 3-0 Pedro Miranda (Por)               11/2, 11/1, 11/1 (8m)
Roshan Bharos (Ned) 3-0 Ricardo Sardinha (Por)  11/1, 11/3, 11/2 (12m)

25-Jul, Semis:
Parker hoping for third time lucky in Madeira
Michael Catling reports

English teenager George Parker will contest his third PSA World Tour final in as many months after scalping top seed Alejandro Garbi in the semi finals of the Madeira International at the Onda Revital Club on the Portuguese island of Madeira.

Parker, who was a losing finalist at the Inno Wood Open and Kent Open, overturned a one game deficit to triumph 2-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-6 in an ill-tempered encounter

The 19-year-old third seed will meet Czech number one Jan Koukal in the final on Saturday afternoon, after the second seed survived a five game battle against Parker's compatriot Lyell Fuller.

Fuller fought back from two games down to beat namesake Mark in the quarter finals, and threatened to replicate his heroics after twice levelling the scores.

Despite a noticeable drop in intensity in the deciding game, Fuller ran out of steam as Koukal kept his hopes of back-to-back PSA titles alive.

Parker, on the other hand, is still seeking a maiden PSA title and was steamrolled in the opening game of his semi-final clash as Garbi flew out of the blocks.

Parker's response was emphatic as the Spanish number three surrendered his advantage in just eight minutes.

Not for the first time, the referee felt the brunt of Garbi's frustrations on court and his displeasure almost reached breaking point as Parker held his nerve in the third game to move ahead for the first time.

Trailing 6-1 in the fourth game, Garbi capitalised on three unforced errors to threaten a revival. A couple of ferocious rallies ultimately proved Garbi's undoing as Parker exploited his opponent's lethargy at the front of the court to clinch victory in 37 minutes.

“He is a tricky player to face but I was able to use my physicality and short game to push him on the back foot,” said Parker. I really struggled in the first game and I knew I had to step my game up. It was a bit messy at times but I was happy overall with the way I played.”

On the adjoining court, Koukal ended hopes of an all-English final after edging a see-saw battle against fifth seed Fuller in just under an hour.

The 16-time Czech National champion was twice pegged back by Fuller - 13 years his junior - but the pendulum swung in favour of Koukal in the decider as the former world number 39 started to dictate proceedings.

A contentious drop shot, which appeared to catch the tin, gave Koukal seven match balls and left Fuller incensed. The 19-year-old from Devonshire responded with two winners before a tinned drop shot ended his hopes of a maiden PSA final.

Victory against Parker would see Koukal tie Amr Shabana and Nick Matthew on 33 PSA titles, but the 32-year-old from Prague remains unconcerned about matching two greats of the game.

“I can't really compare myself to Shabana and Matthew,” said Koukal. “They have obviously won bigger tournaments than me but I am just really enjoying my squash at the moment. I have never played George before but I am ready for the challenge. If I can add another title to my collection, I will be delighted.”


24-Jul, Quarters:
Lyell gets his revenge in Madeira quarters
Michael Catling reports

English teenager Lyell Fuller fought back from two games down to edge a titanic tussle against fourth seed Mark Fuller and advance through to the semi finals of the Madeira International at the Onda Revital Club in Caniço.

Lyell, 19, had lost their previous encounter at the Brest International in April, and a similar scenario appeared to be unfolding as the fifth seed's frustrations with a series of refereeing decisions threatened to boil over.

But the world number 141 from Devonshire regained his composure to complete an unlikely turnaround, triumphing 7-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9 at the second edition of the $5k event on the Portuguese island of Madeira.

“The match was tough mentally and physically,” said Lyell. “It was difficult trying to keep my emotions in check as we were both battling incredibly hard on court. He started really strongly and I felt I was being quite passive. I knew I had to change my tactics so I really tried to take advantage of any openings and thankfully I managed to turn things around.”

With just eight places separating Lyell and Mark in the World Rankings, the match turned into a war of attrition down the left-hand side wall as a number of gruelling rallies ensued.

Mark edged a 16 minute opening game and capitalised on Lyell's frustrations with a series of refereeing decisions to double his advantage.

Facing a sixth quarter-final exit this year, Lyell returned reinvigorated and stormed back to level the arrears. With the momentum behind him, Lyell forged ahead again early in the final game.

Trailing by five points, Mark dug deep to claw back the deficit but with the scores locked at nine-apiece, a tinned drop and a stroke decision handed Lyell victory in 66 minutes.

On the adjacent court, experience prevailed over youth as second seed Jan Koukal ended home hopes with a 7-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-7 success over Portuguese number one Rui Soares.

Koukal, who will face Lyell for a place in the final, was pushed hard by Soares - 11 years his junior - and looked in danger of falling to only his fifth defeat on the PSA World Tour this year.

Buoyed by the support of a raucous home gallery, Soares seemed like a man possessed as he scurried about the court and deservedly won the opening game.

The 16-time Czech national champion remained unflustered, however, and slowly wore down the 21-year-old sixth seed to keep his hopes of a 33rd Tour title alive.

In the top half of the draw, third seed George Parker held off a late fightback from South African Tristan Eysele to prevail 15-13, 11-6, 5-11, 11-9.

The English teenager was forced to save four game balls in the first game and saw a 6-2 lead in the fourth game evaporate as Eysele threatened to take the match into a decider.

With the prospect of another tie-break looming, Parker gleefully accepted two unforced errors from a weary-looking Eysele to advance in 37 minutes.

Success on Tour has so far eluded the 19-year-old from Leicester, and Parker admits his current form is below the standard required to break a run of two consecutive final defeats.

“My performance wasn't great,” admitted Parker. “There were far too many errors and I wasn't moving that well. Credit to my opponent, though, he pushed me hard and made it quite difficult in the end. But if I play like that tomorrow, I don't think I stand a good chance of winning.”

Next up for the reigning European Junior Under 19 champion is top seed Alejandro Garbi who, like Parker, is looking to reach successive PSA finals this week.

The 32-year-old Spaniard recaptured the form which earned him a runner-up trophy at the Gibraltar Open last month as he powered past seventh seed Joe Green 11-8, 11-1, 11-6.

Green, who was also knocked out of the competition at the quarter-final stage in 2014, edged the opening exchanges before Caro reeled off six points in a row to accrue four game balls.

The 20-year-old left-hander saved the first two but a mishit drop shot handed Caro the ascendancy. The world number 110 from Castellon stormed through the next game in just six minutes, and recovered from a 5-2 deficit in the corresponding game to remain on course for just a second career title.

23-Jul, Round One:
Parker leads English charge as seeds win through to quarters in Madeira
Michael Catling reports

World number 113 George Parker led a quartet of English players through to the quarter-finals of the Madeira International, after sweeping past Remo Handl of Switzerland in straight games.

The third seed, who triumphed at the European Junior U19 Championship in March, needed five game balls to take the opening game, but eased through the next two untroubled to record a 12-10, 11-6, 11-6 success at the PSA $5k event at the Onda Revital Club in Canico, Portugal.

The victory, Parker's 15th on the PSA World Tour this year, was the teenager's first since losing the final of the Kent Open last month. Parker was also joined in the last eight by Mark Fuller, Lyell Fuller and Joe Green to cap a successful day for the English contingent.

There was heartbreak, however, for Irish qualifier Brian Byrne, who fell to top seed Alejandro Garbi in four games.

The 32-year-old from Castellon admitted he “did not expect such a tough match,” against Byrne, who is ranked 318 places below the Spanish number three in the PSA World Rankings.

The Dublin-based deputy head teacher briefly threatened a major upset after taking the second game, but Caro regained the initiative to triumph 11-2, 5-11, 11-5, 11-7.

“The match was reasonably close but the games just ran away from me at around five all in the third and fourth games,” lamented Byrne afterwards. “I think I pushed him hard but his experience probably made the difference in the end.”

World #110 Garbi will take on Green for a place in the last four, after the seventh seed outgunned fellow compatriot Sam Ellis in straight games.

Ellis, who was the top qualification seed, struggled to keep the ball out of the tin for much of the match and eventually succumbed to an 11-8, 11-5, 11-8 defeat in just over half an hour.

Green said: “I have made three quarter finals in a row now and overall, I am probably playing some of my best squash. It will be a tough game [against Caro tomorrow] and he will be a heavy favourite. He is definitely beatable, though, and I think I can cause him plenty of problems.”

In the bottom half of the draw, fourth seed Mark Fuller brushed aside Spanish qualifier Pascal Gomez 11-7, 11-4, 11-4 to book an all-English clash with Lyell Fuller (no relation).

Lyell also advanced with relative comfort against home favourite Claudio Pinto 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 and has already set his sights on avenging a four game loss to Mark at the Brest International earlier this year.

“I had a close match with Mark a couple of months ago, so I will definitely be looking for a bit of revenge,” declared Lyell. “I have been knocked out in too many quarter finals recently, but I have been training really hard and I feel pretty confident about the state of my game.”

Meanwhile, second seed Jan Koukal secured a safe passage through to the quarter final stage following an 11-9, 11-9, 11-3 victory over Joeri Hapers of Belgium.

Next up for Koukal, who is looking to tie Nick Matthew and Amr Shabana on 33 PSA titles, is Portuguese number one Rui Soares, who battled past Tom de Mulder 11-6, 11-5, 9-11, 11-5.

Tristan Eysele completed a clean sweep for all the seeded players after overturning a 2-1 deficit to prevail 11-3, 3-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-8 against Egyptian qualifier Omar El Tahry.

The South African eighth seed, who is rewarded with a last eight clash against Parker, was indebted to fellow competitor Byrne, after snapping the strings on two different rackets midway through the second game.

Armed with Byrne's spare racket, while his wife fetched another from their hotel room, Eysele returned to the court and attempted to quell El Tahry's impressive shot-making at the front of the court.

El Tahry, who studies mechanical engineering at Plymouth University, was winning plenty of admirers with a number of deceptive drops and nonchalant flicks, but Eysele managed to wrestle control back to deny the 18-year-old a maiden quarter-final appearance in only his second PSA tournament.


            Qualifiers Byrne, Gomez, Ellis & El Tahry

22-Jul, Qualifying Finals:
Brilliant Byrne bounds into Madeira main draw
Michael Catling reports

Irish number four Brian Byrne secured his first appearance in the main draw of a PSA event outside his homeland for almost a decade, after battling past Dutchman Roshan Bharos in the final round of qualifying at the Madeira International.

Byrne, who operates as a deputy head teacher at a local primary school in Mayo, overcame a second game wobble to prevail 11-8, 8-11, 11-1, 11-7 and book a last 16 encounter with top seed Alejandro Garbi at the PSA $5k event in Canico, Portugal.

“I felt drained during little patches because of the heat and I almost switched off completely in the second game,” revealed the 30-year-old. “Thankfully, I managed to simplify things and played much better in the third.”

With the games locked at one-apiece, Byrne regained the lead after capitalising on a succession of unforced errors from the world number 293. The fourth game followed a similar pattern, and ended when Bharos inexplicably served down whilst facing a second of four match balls.

“It wasn't the best way to end, but tomorrow will be a nice opportunity to test myself against the top seed,” said Byrne. It is certainly not the easiest draw, but these are the games you want to play.

“This is the first time I have been away from my family competing abroad and the experience has been pretty new for me. The mindset is completely different from working nine to five and then travelling to play a match in the evening. Hopefully, I can put in a strong performance and catch Garbi on an off day.”

Byrne is joined in the main draw by Englishman Sam Ellis, who defeated local favourite Ricardo Santos 11-3, 11-8, 11-2 at the Onda Revital Club.

The world number 317 barely surrendered control in the opening game, but was forced to come back from a 6-2 deficit in the second as Santos reeled off four successive winners - much to the delight of a partisan crowd.

Any joy ultimately proved short-lived for the Portuguese 42-year-old, who managed to win just four of the next 24 points as Ellis booked an all-English clash with seventh seed Joe Green.

Elsewhere, Spaniard Pascal Gomez will meet fourth seed Mark Fuller in the first round, after holding off a spirited fightback from Pedro Gomes to advance in straight games.

Gomez, 20, was forced to save two game balls in the final game, before eventually securing victory at the third time of asking 11-3, 12-10, 13-11.

To complete a trio of Portuguese exits, Gonçalo Miranda was blitzed by Omar El Tahry 11-3, 11-3, 11-5 in just 13 minutes. The Egyptian teenager, who is competing in only his second PSA tournament this week, will now face South African Tristan Eysele for a spot in the last eight.

Elsewhere, second seed Jan Koukal begins his quest for a 33rd Tour title when he faces Belgium's Joeri Hapers.

In the opposite end of the draw, third seed George Parker will be looking to bounce back after two consecutive final defeats when he tackles Remo Handl of Switzerland.


21-Jul, Qualifying Round One:
Qualifying under way in Madeira

Michael Catling reports

Englishman Sam Ellis moved within one victory of his first appearance in the main draw of a PSA World Tour event since September 2014, after cruising past unranked Portuguese opponent António Gomes in the first round of qualifying at the Madeira International Open.

Ellis, who was born in New Mexico but now resides in Bristol, recorded an impressive 15 winners en route to an emphatic 11-2, 11-3, 11-1 success at the PSA Challenger 5 event in Canico, Portugal.

“I started off strongly with a good attitude and I tried to play quite solidly without many mistakes,” said the world number 317.

“As the match progressed, I was able to have a bit of fun and attempt some shots I wouldn't normally play. There are always some nerves in the first match, so it was a nice way to relax and build some confidence for the rest of the week.”

On a day where the longest match lasted less than half an hour, Ellis' 13 minute triumph set the tone for a number of one-sided encounters.

In the penultimate matchup, Irish number four Brian Byrne needed just eight minutes to romp past Pedro Miranda 11-2, 11-1, 11-1.

Byrne, 30, will now meet Roshan Bharos for a place in the last 16 at the Onda Revital Club, after the Dutchman notched his first win on Tour since early January.

Bharos had lost three consecutive qualifying matches heading into the event, but the 20-year-old brushed aside co-tournament organiser Ricardo Sardinha 11-1, 11-3, 11-2.

Sardinha's Portuguese compatriot and colleague Milton Teixeira endured a similar fate, losing 11-3, 11-3, 11-4 to Spanish youngster Pascal Gomez, while unranked Irishman Michael Conroy suffered a thrashing at the hands of Egyptian Omar El Tahry.

Conroy, who won the pre-qualification regional tournament at the weekend, was bagelled in the opening game by the world number 428 and fared little better in the next two as El Tahry advanced 11-0, 11-1, 11-5.

Elsewhere, Portuguese trio Ricardo Santos, Pedro Gomes and Gonçalo Miranda all moved within one victory of a maiden PSA first round appearance after overcoming fellow countrymen Luis Ferreira, Carlos Delgado and Joao Gonçalves respectively.

Santos plays Ellis for a place in the main draw, while Gomes takes on Gomez and Miranda faces El Tahry.

Take two in Madeira
Michael Catling reports

The Madeira International returns to the Onda Revital Club in Canico for a second edition of the PSA $5k event.

Rising English star George Parker will attempt to put his final woes behind him when he begins his quest for a maiden PSA World Tour title at the Madeira International next week.

The European Junior U19 champion, who reached a career-high 113 in the July world rankings, was a losing finalist at the Kent Open in June - less than two weeks after suffering a similar fate at the Inno Wood Open.

Parker, 19, is seeded third at the second edition of the PSA 5 Challenger event on the Portuguese island of Madeira, and will hope to avoid a repeat of last year's first round exit when he plays Remo Handl of Switzerland.

Top seed Alejandro Garbi, who is expected to face Parker in the last four, also returns to action after suffering final heartbreak at the Gibraltar Open last month.

The 32-year-old Spaniard has reached at least the quarter-final stage in all but one of his last nine PSA outings and begins his campaign against a qualifier on Thursday evening.

South African Tristan Eysele and seventh seed Joe Green are also scheduled to do likewise, with the latter seeded to meet Garbi for a semi-final berth.

In the bottom half of the draw, Czech No.1 Jan Koukal will be gunning for back-to-back titles after triumphing at the Château-Arnoux Open last Sunday.

The former world number 39 became the first player in history to win a PSA final for a 12th consecutive year with victory in France.

Koukal has been drawn against Belgian Joeri Harpers in the first round and could face a quarter-final clash with Portuguese No.1 Rui Soares, whose last 16 opponent is Tom de Mulder of Belgium.

Elsewhere, English duo Lyell Fuller and Mark Fuller will need to overcome Claudio Pinto and a qualifier respectively to set-up a repeat of their last eight encounter at the Brest International Classic in April.

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