Australian Donna Urquhart, former world No. 13 who has been plagued by injuries for the past two years, marked her comeback in sensational style by winning the Women’s Stratos Seattle Open, a WSA Challenger 5 event at the Seattle Athletic Club. Germany’s Raphael Kandra found similar fortune by securing the men’s title over top-seeded Omar Abdel Meguid in three games.
Urquhart the twenty-eight-year-old from New South Wales, Competing in only her fourth WSA World Tour event since undergoing foot surgery in September, survived a five-game quarterfinal battle against England’s Fiona Moverley before overcoming Germany’s Sina Wall in four games in the semis to reach the fifteenth tour final of her career.
The top seed’s opponent in the final was second seeded Liu Tsz-Ling, the world No. 57 from Hong Kong making just her first tour appearance this year. The twenty-three-year-old Liu cruised through to the final without dropping a game, dispatching Norway’s No. 3 seed Lotte Eriksen in the semis to reach the ninth tour final of her career.
The final marked the pair’s third tour meeting since April 2011—and it took the Australian left-hander fifty minutes to extend her unbeaten record over Liu to win the title by an 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8 score line.
“It feels awesome to be in the final since my foot operation and to actually win the tournament,” said the jubilant Urquhart, currently No. 36 in the world rankings. “I’m so happy to be back on track and so much enjoying playing squash again.
“Liu played very well and put me under a lot of pressure today. Every time I was putting the ball loose she was putting it away, so I had to find the right game plan. I’m taking confidence from this and hopefully will keep playing well next week in Calgary.”
Urquhart is the fourth seed in the Calgary CFO Consulting Services WSA Women’s Squash Week championship that gets underway in Calgary, Alberta, on Thursday.
Immediately following Urquarhart’s win, Germany’s World No. 50, Raphael Kandra, celebrated his first PSA World Tour win over Omar Abdel Meguid when he defeated the Egyptian 3-0 in the final of the Stratos Seattle Open, PSA Challenger 10 tournament.
Kandra, the No. 2 seed, reached his sixteenth PSA World Tour final after surviving a close five-game semifinal battle with third-seeded Indian Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu, while Meguid, the world No. 33, also prevailed in a marathon semi, seeing off England’s fourth seed, Declan James, 10-12, 11-6, 11-9, 12-14, 11-5 after 140-minutes to set up his 17th tour final.
Ranked seventeen places higher and having emerged victorious in their past two meetings, Meguid was the firm favorite to taste glory in the final, but Kandra leapt into action from the start to take the first game 11-6. Meguid, clearly tired after the effort he put in the day before, found it difficult to build any real momentum and Kandra took full advantage of that to take the second game by the same margin.
Kandra, twenty-four years old, kept up the assault in the third and powered his way through 11-6, 11-6, 11-7 to collect his second tour title of the year—an achievement only matched so far by Nick Matthew, the world No. 3 from England, who last week won his second title of the year at the PSA World Series Windy City Open in Chicago.