BRNO, Czech Republic — Egypt’s Haya Ali secured her third PSA Tour title, beating Asia Harris of Britain 3-1 in the final of the 2023 Czech squash Open.
The matchup pitted the top two seeds against one another, but it was the No.2 seed Harris who took the early lead, closing out game one 11-6 inside eight minutes.
Ali responded well by taking game two by the same scoreline, before moving within one game of victory after winning game three 11-7.
At 9-6 it looked as though victory was within touching distance for the 19-year-old, but Harris fought back to make it 9-9, before Ali brought up match ball on the next point.
Harris saved it and then had a game ball of her own after the referee gave a no-let when Ali hit the floor, but she was unable to convert. Ali then brought up another match ball, this time taking her opportunity, hitting a powerful forehand crosscourt, which Harris was unable to return.
Victory capped an impressive week for the No.1 seed, who wrapped up her third tour title of what has been a breakout year so far, following success at the BRESS Breda Open and Hyder Trophy already in 2023.
Earlier, Patrick Rooney claimed the biggest title of his career, beating Germany’s Raphael Kandra 3-2 in the Czech Open final.
Playing in his first 30k final, Rooney was targeting a first PSA tournament win since 2019, when he lifted back-to-back trophies at the 20k Arnold Homes Tring Open and the 10k International Tournament Madeira Island.
Kandra, meanwhile, was seeking his second crown of 2023 after winning the Pader Open, and came into this final full of confidence having seen off two-time defending champion Nicolas Mueller in a ruthless semi-final display.
It was Rooney who started the brighter, though, despite coming through a five-game epic in the semis, taking the opening game 11-4 to put himself in the ascendancy.
Kandra hit back to level the match in game two, and did the same 20 minutes later, winning game four to force a decider after Rooney had edged back in front after three.
But once again, the Englishman re-gained the momentum, winning the first four points of game five, and the fourth coming on a delicate forehand drop shot which drew appreciation from the crowd.
Another delightful drop, this time from the back of the court, put Rooney two points from glory at 9-3 up, and while Kandra threatened to make a comeback, winning the next three rallies, it would be too little, too late, as a forehand into the tin handed victory to Rooney just moments later.
“It was a great match from the both of us,” Rooney said after his win according to psaworldtour.
“The momentum shifted a lot in the four games, but I thought I put enough work into him that I felt confident in taking the fifth. Respect to Raphael for playing a tough final. This week I produced some of my most mature squash so it’s a good confidence boost to take forward.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here in Brno. Props to Roman and his team for putting together such a solid event, I hope to be back next year!”
Speaking after the semi-finals win against Nicolas Mueller, Kandra said: “We have been rivals for many years and played a lot of matches against each other, so mentally I knew I had to stay strong.
“My gameplan worked well today and my shots were hitting the targets. Sometimes it doesn’t need more.”
To lift the trophy, Kandra will have to record a first ever PSA Tour win over England’s Patrick Rooney, who came through a five-game thriller against No.3 seed Yahya Elnawasany.
Rooney had to do things the hard way after falling 2-1 down three games into what was an attacking matchup.
He opened a crucial gap midway through the fourth, moving from 3-3 to 9-3 in less than three minutes, and set up a decider soon after.