Friday, December 1, 2023

Joel Makin and Patrick Rooney fight back to reach quarter-finals in Malaysian Open

By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor) and JONATHAN SMITH (PSA) in Kuala Lumpur

Wales’ No.2 seed Joel Makin had to battle extremely hard to overcome home hero Eain Yow Ng to reach the quarter finals of the Malaysian Open.

England’s Patrick Rooney joins him in the last eight after fighting back from two games down to beat Egypt’s Mohamed ElSherbini. Both British players now face dangerous opponents, with Makin meeting Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez and Rooney needing to nullify Egypt’s Mazen Hesham.

Makin’s compatriot Tesni Evans, No.3 seed in the women’s event, had a straightforward win over Latvia’s Ineta Mackevica and now faces Melissa Alves, the No.6 seed from France.

Yow certainly had the home crowd on his side as he pushed Makin all the way, leading by two games to one before the Welshman hit back to win 11-6, 6-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5 in 69 minutes.

Two solid opening games were shared between the two players as they looked to find their rhythm on the all-glass court. Yow managed to sneak ahead at 6-4 in the third game and held a two point advantage throughout the gamed was able to take a massive 2-1 lead.

The Malaysian started the fourth game in great form. Helped by errors from Makin and his own outright winners, Yow lead 5-1 and looked on course to claim another scalp on the PSA World Tour.

But the stubborn Makin battled back and started to make life uncomfortable for Yow. Makin straightened up his play and forced the Malaysian into several errors to run through from 7-3 down to 9-7 up. He eventually took the game 11-9 to set up a fifth.

The work done in the fourth game seemed to have taken its toll on the home favourite as Makin went from strength to strength, using the momentum to carry him through more tough rallies. Makin set himself up with five match balls and converted to win 11-5 and set up a quarter final clash with Colombia’s Rodriguez.

“Again, we’ve played so many times, it’s always so hard,” said Makin. “He had a big advantage today and I was up against it there. He was putting the pressure on, and he’s just playing so much better through the middle now.

“He’s playing a good level and I was well aware of that. Him playing at home is a tough match-up for me and I was nearly down and out in that fourth but managed to find a way.

“It was all mental. He did a little shut out at 7-2 and that really got things moving in my body and then I just had to get the ball through, get back across the middle and play at a bit more pace.”

Patrick Rooney battles past Mohamed ElSherbini

England’s No.8 seed Patrick Rooney completed a spectacular fightback as he came from two games down to beat Egypt’s Mohamed ElSherbini 3-2.

With just six places separating world No.23 Rooney and world No.29 ElSherbini, this match always had the potential to be a tense affair, and so it proved as the match went the distance.

ElSherbini deservedly took the lead with an 11-7 win in the opening game, before being forced into a long second game by an improving Rooney. Despite his improvement, Rooney was left in a perilous position when El Sherbini edged it 17-15.

The Englishman responded well to win the third 11-9 before levelling the tie with an 11-4 win in the fourth.

ElSherbini aimed to slow the tempo of the fifth game to disrupt Rooney’s momentum, but he was unable to hold off the comeback with Rooney clinching the match in 85 minutes with an 11-8 victory, to ElSherbini’s fury.

Afterwards, Rooney said: “I kept my head quite well, and I had to be calm to win. In the first two games he was getting the better of me, squash-wise, so in the second I tried to make it as tough as possible.

“It was tight towards the end of the second game and I was thinking that even if I lost it, he might be tired. He looked a bit shaky so then it was about keeping my head as he started disrupting play, getting the court wiped and arguing with the referee.

“He was fully focused, his tactic was to disrupt me and try to get into my head and it was up to me to keep calm and block that out. It would have been easy to have become frustrated with the amount of times he was stopping. It was a good tactic from him.

“I don’t usually come through stuff like that and I’m very happy to have come through it today.”

Rodriguez, too, came through a brutal affair against US No.1 Shahjahan Khan. No.5 seed Rodriguez made a strong start to take the first game 11-9, only to fall behind when Khan took the second 13-11 and the third 11-8.

The Colombian, though, was able to dig deep in an intense finale as he reclaimed the lead with an 11-4 win in the fourth and then sealed the match with an 11-9 in the decisive game.

Malaysia’s Rachel Arnold in action against England’s Grace Gear

England’s Grace Gear lost a desperately close match to Malaysia’s No.8 seed Rachel Arnold, who recovered from a challenging start to win in four tight games.

In the opening game, Gear was able to beat Arnold’s defences as she took a hard-fought 12-10 win, before the Malaysian settled into a good rhythm.

After levelling with a nervy 12-10 victory, the Malaysian went on the attack and completed the comeback with an 11-7 win in game three and an 11-9 in game four.

Arnold said: “I think it was a bit nervy from me. We’ve played each other a few times this year already and it’s usually close. I think that’s a good start with a second round win.

“I feel great. Last year I didn’t do too well, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Malaysia’s defending women’s champion and No.5 seed Aifa Azman, who shocked the squash world last year by winning the tournament as a wildcard, will play No.2 seed Nele Gilis of Belgium after Azman defeated compatriot Ainaa Amani 3-0 and Gilis beat Fayrouz Aboelkheir of Egypt by the same scoreline.

Addeen Idrakie beats Raphael Kandra

Malaysia’s world No.83 Addeen Idrakie’s brilliant run has continued into the men’s quarter-finals after the 28-year-old came from behind to shock German No.7 seed and world No.19 Raphael Kandra in another five-game classic, winning 4-11, 11-7, 13-11, 9-11, 11-8.

He now meets top seed Tarek Momen, with Egypt’s former world champion beating compatriot Yahya Elnawasany in four games, finishing with a crushing 11-1 win in the fourth.

Women’s top seed Olivia Fiechter (USA) beat England’s Julianne Courtice in straight games and now meets Egypt’s Yathreb Adel, who overcame No.7 seed Alexandra Fuller of South Africa.

Malaysian Open, Nicol David Arena, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Men’s Second Round:
[1] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Yahya Elnawasany (EGY) 3-1: 6-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-1 (34m)
Addeen Idrakie (MAS) bt [7] Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-2: 4-11, 11-7, 13-11, 9-11, 11-8 (66m)
[6] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Moustafa El Sirty (EGY) 3-2: 8-11, 11-3, 11-8, 7-11, 11-7 (62m)
[4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Ramit Tandon (IND) 3-1: 6-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-7 (44m)
[3] Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt Faraz Khan (USA) 3-0: 11-1, 11-5, 11-6 (29m)
[8] Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) 3-2: 7-11, 15-17, 11-9, 11-4, 11-8 (85m)
[5] Miguel Rodriguez (COL) bt Shahjahan Khan (USA) 3-2: 11-9, 11-13, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9 (88m)
[2] Joel Makin (WAL) bt Eain Yow Ng (MAS) 3-2: 11-6, 6-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5 (69m)

Men’s Quarter-Finals (Thursday, November 24):
[1] Tarek Momen (EGY) v Addeen Idrakie (MAS)
[6] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v [4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
[3] Mazen Hesham (EGY) v [8] Patrick Rooney (ENG)
[5] Miguel Rodriguez (COL) v [2] Joel Makin (WAL)

Women’s Second Round:
[1] Olivia Fiechter (USA) bt Julianne Courtice (ENG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-, 11-3 (24m)
Yathreb Adel (EGY) bt [7] Alexandra Fuller (RSA) 3-1: 11-7, 6-11, 11-9, 11-9 (40m)
[6] Melissa Alves (FRA) bt Chan Yiwen (MAS) 3-0: 12-10, 11-4, 11-5 (29m)
[3] Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Ineta Mackevica (LAT) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-5 (25m)
[4] Nadine Shahin (EGY) bt Nour Aboulmakarim (EGY) 3-2: 11-6, 11-3, 11-13, 10-12, 11-7 (64m)
[8] Rachel Arnold (MAS) bt Grace Gear (ENG) 3-1: 10-12, 12-10, 11-7, 11-9 (38m)
[5] Aifa Azman (MAS) bt Ainaa Amani (MAS) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-8 (21m)
[2] Nele Gilis (BEL) bt Fayrouz Aboelkheir (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 11-6 (33m)

Women’s Quarter-Finals (Thursday, November 24):
[1] Olivia Fiechter (USA) v Yathreb Adel (EGY)
[6] Melissa Alves (FRA) v [3] Tesni Evans (WAL)
[4] Nadine Shahin (EGY) v [8] Rachel Arnold (MAS)
[5] Aifa Azman (MAS) v [2] Nele Gilis (BEL)

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour


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