Swiss bliss as Nic Mueller takes out Greg Marche in seedings upset
By ALAN THATCHER and SEAN REUTHE
Britain’s top player, Joel Makin of Wales, lined up a quarter-final clash with top seed Ali Farag after beating Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng in the second round of the Optasia Championship at The Wimbledon Club.
Makin, the World No.8, got under way with a 3-1 win over Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng, winning by an 11-7, 8-11, 11-7, 11-3 scoreline in the longest match of the tournament so far at 60 minutes.
Makin will now take on Farag for the fourth time on the PSA World Tour. Makin won their most recent match, which saw him put on a masterclass to nullify Farag in a 3-0 win at October’s U.S. Open.
“That was tough today,” said Makin. “He’s so skilful and quick around the front, and if you take him in without too much pace or running it in tight, he’s quick onto it and he has a lot of options.
“You really need to get your tactics right on there and it’s a difficult thing to do, but it was a good quality match I thought.”
Farag kicked off his title challenge with a 3-0 triumph over fellow Egyptian Mohamed ElSherbini.
Farag, a two-time runner-up at this event, which was previously known as the Channel VAS Championships, was on fine form, sealing an 11-7, 11-6, 11-7 victory in 32 minutes to set up a quarter final clash with Welshman Joel Makin.
“The venue is special and different and we enjoy that,” said Farag, who is aiming to win his first PSA title in England this week.
“In our careers we rarely go to new places, so it’s exciting in front of you guys [the spectators] and it’s definitely exciting for us players.”
Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller made it back-to-back upsets at the Optasia Championship as he overcame World No.11 Gregoire Marche at the Wimbledon Club to book a place in his biggest quarter final since 2018.
World No.26 Mueller produced a sublime display to take out the higher-ranked Spaniard Iker Pajares Bernabeu in round one, and he was even better against Marche as he came back from a game down to secure his biggest win since beating former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad to reach the quarter finals of the 2018 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions.
Mueller showed impressive resolve to overcome a first-game defeat and played some superb winners over the course of the next two games to hold a 2-1 advantage. A strong start to the fourth game from the man from Switzerland saw Marche capitulate, and Mueller wrapped up the win by a 2-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-4 scoreline to reach the last eight.
“We go back roughly 20 years at least,” said Mueller. “We have been playing all through juniors, I think when we first played we were 11 or 12, it’s still the same difference in height.
“But he’s become a much better player in the last couple of years and has been playing very well. I don’t know how I won that. I think for the first one and a half games he played at another level and I had to dig deep to win. That second was crucial to get some confidence to win it.
“He’s No.11 in the world, so the pressure was on him. I played well yesterday and got some confidence and when I’m confident, I think I’m a dangerous person to play.”
Mueller will take on World No.7 Marwan ElShorbagy for a place in the semi finals after ElShorbagy’s opponent, former World No.1 James Willstrop, pulled out of their fixture due to injury.
Another injury will also cut short tonight’s second round schedule, with India’s Saurav Ghosal withdrawing from his match against Egypt’s Mazen Hesham.
PSA Gold 2022 Optasia Championships, The Wimbledon Club, London, England.
Second Round (Top Half):
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-6, 11-7 (32m)
 Joel Makin (WAL) bt Eain Yow Ng (MAS) 3-1: 11-7, 8-11, 11-7, 11-3 (60m)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt  Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-1: 2-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-4 (53m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt James Willstrop (ENG) w/o
Second Round (Bottom Half, March 8):
 Diego Elias (PER) v [WC] Joe Lee (ENG)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Youssef Soliman (EGY)
George Parker (ENG) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Quarter Finals (Top Half, March 9):
 Ali Farag (EGY) v  Joel Makin (WAL)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour and Patrick Lauson Photography