R1: Rafael Kandra 3-1 Dimitri Steinmann

Germany’s Raphael Kandra rallied from a first-game loss to post a 3-1 (5-11, 11-5, 11-5,11-2) win against Switzerland’s Dimitri Steinmann thereby setting up a second-round clash with World No. 13 Saurav Ghosal of India.

The 30-year-old German, who reached the last 16 of several tournaments in the second half of the 2018-19 season including the Motor City Open, Canary Wharf Classic and DPD Open, had only met his Swiss opponent only once ahead of Sunday’s match – the semi-finals of the 2017 Sekisui Open. He also won on that occasion howbeit with the match going all the way to the decider.

Kandra, ranked 33, started the match at a slow pace and it was quite evident that he was a bit match-rusty as his response was slow and his counter-plays not so fast. However, he bounced back in the second game with a dominant performance, racing to a five-point lead as a stage in the game. From there on, it was no looking back for the Paderborn-resident as he took the next three games with a convincing display which saw the spectators applauding in appreciation.

“I’ve played some very good matches before the break occasioned by the pandemic, and I was really looking forward to playing again just like every other players. I don’t think players are counting on rankings at this moment, but they are just happy to play again,” he said.

Talking about his next match against Ghosal, he said, “I’ve played Saurav several times with the last one being in Shanghai (maybe). He is a very skilful and talented player, and he has been on the Tour for ages I guess, and he is probably as much looking forward to the match as I am. I still have a long way to go, and I’ll keep improving. To beat someone at Saurav level, I need to play at my best which I hope to do tomorrow.”