Canadian Andrew Schnell celebrated his second home soil upset over higher-ranked Jan Koukal this year when he beat the Czech number one in a five-game thriller in the quarter-finals of the Nash Cup at the London Squash Racquets Club in London, Ontario.
“This was a roller coaster of a game and Andrew was to some extent in control of his own destiny tonight and nearly committed suicide,” explained Nash Cup tournament director Dave Morrish. “He dictated so much of the play and forced Jan into a waiting and absorbing game.
“Jan’s retrieving was often breath-taking. Andrew most definitely took the game to Jan tonight and attacked at every opportunity, both short and deep. His error rate was pretty high for a match of this level but at the end of the day, squash was the winner as Andrew hit a few more winners than he did errors!”
The match went the full distance, with Schnell ultimately triumphing 11-13, 11-6, 11-13, 11-1, 12-10 in 70 minutes.
“Jan and I played a while back, that game also went to five, so I knew that when things got tough in today’s match I could pull through and take it,” said Schnell, the world No82. “Really excited to get through considering Jan is a very good player and you never know how matches like that will go. Looking forward to tomorrow’s match, excited for the semis!”
The young Canadian will now meet top seed Julian Illingworth, the world No31 from New York. But the record eight times US champion was also taken the full distance before overcoming unseeded Englishman Anthony Graham 11-9, 2-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-5 in 74 minutes.
“I feel really lucky to have made it through today,” admitted 28-year-old Illingworth. “I checked out for a bit but luckily for me I was able to pull myself together and come back. Seriously, Anthony is great and I feel lucky to get the win. He is young and has a lot of talent which, if he nurtures it well could be anywhere in the top 40.”
His defeated opponent summed up his reaction in one word: “Gutted! I thought I played well, but I lost my concentration in patches and just couldn’t come back. If I had adapted to the change of pace that occurred during the third game that would have put me in a better position to take the match.
“A lot of positives to take out of this match – I just need to learn to play better at the business end of the game,” added the 22-year-old from Gloucestershire.
The other semi-final will be an Anglo-South African clash between fourth seed Olivier Pett and Cape Town-born Clinton Leeuw.
Englishman Pett beat Canadian Thomas Brinkman 13-11, 11-1, 11-7, while unseeded Leeuw – who secured his place in the last eight after ousting title-holder champion Shawn Delierre in the opening round – continued his giant-killing run by defeating higher-ranked Frenchman Yann Perrin 12-10, 11-8, 11-4.