Thursday, November 30, 2023

Joel Makin and Sarah-Jane Perry make Manchester Open finals

By SEAN REUTHE – Squash Mad Correspondent

There will be British interest in both finals of the Manchester Open at the National Squash Centre. Joel Makin of Wales meets Diego Elias of Peru in the men’s final and England’s Sarah-Jane Perry takes on Egypt’s top seed Hania El Hammamy in the women’s decider.

No.4 seed Makin dug deep to end the giant-killing run of Egypt’s Youssef Ibrahim with an 11-6, 7-11, 3-11, 11-4, 12-10 victory.

World No.18 Ibrahim had been in red-hot form this week after beating both No.2 seed Karim Abdel Gawad and No.6 seed Mohamed Abouelghar. Makin, who won the British Nationals on this very court a week ago, found himself 2-1 down as 344 minutes of on-court action over the past two weeks looked to be taking its toll.

But he tapped into his energy reserves and stayed mentally resilient to draw level, before grinding out a victory in the fifth game to reach his first PSA final since the Open de France in September 2019.

Joel Makin at full stretch to dig out a ball near the side wall

“That was tough, he was hitting stuff from everywhere,” said Makin. “There was a patch in the fifth where there was not much I could do.

“he was diving across and hitting backhand crosscourt nicks, backhand drops, they were all going in and then four went down in a row at the end. You keep trying to force him behind you and make some errors.”

Peru’s World No.8 Elias has ended an 18-month wait for a PSA final after he overcame top seed Marwan ElShorbagy.

Diego Elias celebrates reaching the Manchester final

Lima-based Elias, 24, had won seven of his previous eight matches against ElShorbagy and extended his winning run over the World No.5 to six successive matches following an 11-4, 11-8, 11-5 victory in 46 minutes. Elias will now compete in his first PSA final since the Motor City Open in February, 2020.

“I felt pretty good today, I had a good game plan and the court was bouncy, so I didn’t want to make any errors,” said Elias.

“It feels good to have a big win after so long. I came back from the World Championships, I played okay, but I feel like my game is coming back now.

“I had a really good length today. The balls were really tight to the wall, I was moving well and I haven’t felt this good in a while. I’m happy it was 3-0.”

England No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry and top seed Hania El Hammamy will go head-to-head in the women’s final after they both beat Welsh opposition in Tesni Evans and Emily Whitlock.

It will be a repeat of December’s CIB PSA Black Ball Squash Open – where Perry came back from two games down to win her biggest title to date – and World No.6 Perry secured her place in the title decider here in Manchester after beating 2019 runner-up Evans 8-11, 11-5, 14-12, 11-9.

“Kudos to Tesni there, she just doesn’t go away, she’s an absolute fighter and probably the gutsiest competitor out there,” Perry said.

Sarah-Jane Perry celebrates reaching the final on home soil

“I thought I’d just found my rhythm in the fourth game and – boom – it was 9-9. I had to play two really good shots there to close that out, and I’m feeling quite relieved right now.”

El Hammamy will now look to avenge that Black Ball Open defeat after she beat Whitlock 11-5, 14-12, 11-1 to join Perry in reaching her first Manchester Open final.

“I’m definitely looking for revenge after being 2-0 up in the Black Ball Open and then losing in five,” El Hammamy admitted.

“She beat me in my home crowd, so hopefully I can beat her in hers. Hopefully it’s going to be a good one against SJ.”

Hania El Hammamy leaps to play a volley

2021 Manchester Open, National Squash Centre, Manchester, England.

Men’s Semi-Finals:
[3] Diego Elias (PER) bt [1] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 11-5 (46m)
[4] Joel Makin (WAL) bt Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) 3-2: 11-6, 7-11, 3-11, 11-4, 12-10 (81m)

Men’s Final:
[3] Diego Elias (PER) v [4] Joel Makin (WAL)

Women’s Semi-Finals:
[2] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [3] Tesni Evans (WAL) 3-1: 8-11, 11-5, 14-12, 11-9 (59m)
[1] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Emily Whitlock (WAL) 3-0: 11-5, 14-12, 11-1 (37m)

Women’s Final:
[1] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v [2] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)

Pictures courtesy of PSA


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