10:19 pm
22 Apr 2024

Cardenas Gatecrashes Canadian Open Semis

16 Feb 2023

Leonel Cardenas produced the only upset on day three of the Oxford Properties Canadian Open quarter-finals when the Mexican No.1 overcame Switzerland's third seed Nicolas Mueller for the second time this year to reach the PSA World Tour Bronze event semi-finals in Calgary.

The 23-year-old defeated Mueller for the first time just last month at the Houston Open and was looking to repeat that success to earn a spot in his biggest semi-final to date on the PSA World Tour.

Cardenas trailed for most of the first game in the final encounter of the night but managed to stay within touch by squeezing errors from the Swiss No.1 in the back corners. The world No.31 earned the first game ball at 10-9 and capitalised on the first time of asking to lead 1/0.

It was clear that Mueller wasn't physically at his best as the second game got underway at Bow Valley Square. The Swiss was struggling to move into the front corners and retrieve the attacks of Cardenas, of which there were many. The resistance faded quickly from Mueller as he lost both the last two games 11-3, sending Cardenas through to the last four.

"It feels great. I'm playing good squash and I'm feeling really good on the court this week," said Cardenas.

"I'll sleep well tonight and maybe use an ice bath to prepare for tomorrow. I'll prepare some tactical stuff with my coach back in Mexico. Cesar [Salazar] is helping me, he has so much experience and it's great to have him with me. But, I know tomorrow will be hard, he's a top player. I know I have to be at my best."

Cardenas will face Wales' Joel Makin after the No.2 seed won an all-British battle with England's Nick Wall. Despite winning in straight games, the Welshman didn't have things all his own way and was tested in the opening two games but managed to close them out 11-9, 12-10 before comfortably taking the third game 11-1 to reach his third World Tour semi-final of the season.

The other semi-final will be a match-up between the world No.10 and world No.13 as Victor Crouin and Miguel Rodriguez came through their respective quarter finals both in four games.

Rodriguez was involved in a brutal affair with France's Auguste Dussourd and needed 101 minutes to defeat the 27-year-old. The hot and bouncy conditions made for attritional squash as outright winners were proving hard to come by. The competitive rallies were entertaining the Calgary crowd immensely, with both players taking the opening games 12-10 to make it one-all.

Rodriguez captured the third game 11-8 and looked to have broken Dussourd physically as the fourth game progressed. The Colombian managed to pull away in the middle stages and took the lengthy affair, winning 11-5 in the fourth.

"Auguste has been playing great this season," said Rodriguez.

"All credit to him. He was putting me under a lot of pressure. He was playing really well today at altitude and on a bouncy court. He had a good strategy against me and I had to really push to win these points. I kept believing in myself, just doing the right things. I used my experience and I think that might have been the key to winning today.

"My fans and friends are the reason I keep playing. I'm 37 years old and I'm still enjoying my game. When I saw this event on the calendar, I wanted to come back and play again, I played in Calgary 12 years ago and I wanted to come back to a place where I have good memories. I knew that the conditions might suit me so I'm so happy to win today and make another semi-final."

His semi-final opponent, Crouin, was forced to recover from a game down against the dangerous Mohamed ElSherbini to earn his place in the semi-finals. The top-seeded Frenchman knuckled down after losing the opening game and asserted himself in the middle of the court and used his accurate hitting to the back corners to set up attacking opportunities, which he finished with great style.