Sunday, March 3, 2024

Joel Makin lands Canadian Open squash title

Joel Makin admitted there was “no hiding place” as he fought for the Oxford Properties Canadian Men’s Open title against Victor Crouin before the Welshman came out on top in four tough games.

World No.11 Makin produced a quality performance to defeat top seed Crouin 11-9, 11-4, 6-11, 12-10 in Calgary.

“I’ve had a great week here this week,” said Makin.

“The players who have played this event before always come back and talk about how nice everyone is here. The atmosphere has been quality, the crowd has been packed out every day and have been getting behind the players.”

As expected, tough, long rallies featured heavily in game one between two of the best movers in the game. Both attempting to find space on the court and assert themselves strongly in the middle to take control of a crucial opening game. There was nothing between the pair as the score reached 9-9, but it was the No.2 seed who managed to hold his concentration the better and closed out the game 11-9.

The tactics didn’t change for Makin in game two, but the quality certainly went up a notch. The Welshman continued to work the ball into the back corners then follow up with tight, accurate straight drops to narrow the angles for Crouin, if he could retrieve them at all. Makin ran out to an impressive 9-2 lead and after a further few rallies, took a 2-0 lead.

In typical Crouin style, the World No.10 responded. The 23-year-old pushed up the court, wrestled control of the middle of the court back from Makin, and then started to dominate proceedings. The Frenchman was now putting some serious work into the legs of the World No.11 and it started to show in the latter stages as Makin physically dropped off slightly as Crouin clawed a game back to give himself a lifeline.

Crouin continued his momentum into the fourth game and looked to be the stronger of the two as he led 7-5 in a bid to force a fifth and final game. Makin had other ideas however and turned up the intensity, forcing brutal rallies and winning the next four points to lead 9-7. Makin squandered two championship balls at 10-8 but an error from Crouin on the third match ball for Makin sealed the title for the Welshman. A second World tour title after winning the Manchester Open Silver event last April.

Makin added: “There was no hiding place in that match. I had to push hard in that fourth game, Victor [Crouin] has been sharp all week and all season so I’m happy to take that win. I’ve not been in the form I’ve wanted to be in but I was glad to put a week like that together and get a win and get a step in the right direction.

Results – Final: Oxford Properties Canadian Men’s Open 2023

[2] Joel Makin (WAL) bt [1] Victor Crouin (FRA) 3-1: 11-9, 11-4, 6-11, 12-10 (73m)

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