Kandra, Hesham and Elias all battle through in five
By ALAN THATCHER and MATT COLES
World No.9 Joel Makin put in an assured display to see off the dangerous Englishman Patrick Rooney and move into the quarter finals of this year’s Qatar QTerminals Classic.
The pair had met three times previously on the PSA World Tour. Makin won their two most recent encounters, with their last match resulting in an enthralling 75-minute battle at the CIB Black Ball Squash Open back in March.
This time around it was all Makin as he nullified Rooney with a polished performance which saw him triumph in this PSA World tour Platinum event by an 11-5, 11-5, 11-8 scoreline.
After falling to a one-game deficit, Rooney finally started to impose himself on the match in the second as he took the first four points unopposed. However, four unforced errors soon followed, and Makin made no mistake in taking 11 of the next 12 points.
Rooney was unable to knock Makin off his stride in the third, and it will be the Welshman who lines up against Egyptian Mazen Hesham in the last eight.
Makin said: “I know what he can do and I know how disruptive he is, so I didn’t let myself get passive at any point.
“I know how good he is and I respect the level he is playing at now. Although his ranking is around the 40s, in the next month or two he’s going to be around 20 or 25 in the world. I knew I had to squeeze him down the side walls and play at a good pace.
“I executed that well because it’s not easy to do against someone who is that good.
“It [playing with Rooney in the past] helped me put together tactics. I didn’t go into it thinking that because he’s ranked around 40 it should be a formality because it never is. I knew if I put together the squash I can play then it becomes a bit more straightforward, but if you go into it complacent then these guys are too good now at this point.
“It’s a good opportunity for me to get through to another semi-final and move up through the rankings without playing a top four seed. It’s there for me to get to the next stage, but I’ve got wins against Mo and Ali a few weeks ago.
“It obviously helps if it’s not going to be against one of the big guys. You also want to beat those guys on the big stage and beat the World No.1 in a big semi-final and win a title that way. It doesn’t worry me too much but it’s [seeing the big guns fall in the early stages] good to see.”
Germany’s Raphael Kandra came from behind to defeat World No.5 Marwan ElShorbagy to make it into the quarter-finals.
The last time the German made it to the last eight of a major tournament came at the Allam British Open in 2018, where he went all the way to the semi-finals. ElShorbagy had won five of their previous six matches, with Kandra’s sole victory coming in that run in Hull three years previous.
With ElShorbagy winning four on the trot against the World No.22, the Egyptian was the heavy favourite coming into the match and he took the opening game on the tie-break after both players had squandered two game balls.
There were too many errors from ElShorbagy’s racket in the second as Kandra drew level for the loss of just three points. ElShorbagy again triumphed on a tie break in the third game but he struggled to put away a tenacious Kandra, with the left-hander playing some immaculate drops on the forehand side.
ElShorbagy grew increasingly frustrated with the referee as the match wore on, and he was unable to claw back control of the match as Kandra completed victories in games four and five to seal the win.
The German said: “I feel a little shaky because we’ve had so many matches like this when I’ve been leading, he’s been leading, and it’s always quick-fire squash against him.
“You don’t get any time to relax. I think I need to settle a little bit to realise I am in the quarter finals of the Qatar Classic. It means a lot to me. I’ve been working for such a long time on the steps to make not only the last 16, to make the last eight, which is a big difference.
Kandra will face Peru’s World No.8 Diego Elias in the quarter-finals and the German added: “We recently played at the U.S. Open and he demolished me. I was 2-0 down within 15 minutes and I didn’t really get used to his game. I fought back and it was really close in the fourth. I have a good plan to play him and I want to show that on the court. I’m feeling comfortable here in Qatar so I hope I can continue feeling like that.”
The South American got the better of Frenchman Gregoire Marche in a pulsating five-game battle in which he came back from the brink.
It was the second time in as many days that Elias had been on the right end of a 3-2 victory, with his round two fixture against England’s Declan James seeing him overturn a 2-1 deficit. This time, he had to come from even further behind.
Marche rattled off a number of winners and Elias’s usual fluid movement was not present as the Frenchman opened up a commanding two-game lead. The ‘Peruvian Puma’ started firing in the third game as he finally found his range. He won it comfortably and he doubled up in the fourth to draw level, sneaking it 11-9. And as the fifth game came around, there was only going to be one winner as Marche cut a disconsolate figure.
“I won the last few times, so I knew he wanted revenge and he started really strongly,” said Elias.
“He hit a lot of winners, the court is a bit cold, so the ball stays in the front. I wasn’t moving my best and he took every opportunity, so it was good from him, but I’m happy to come back and find a way to win.
“In the past I would be very worried because I wasn’t the best physically, but I think I’m getting stronger and I’m ready to play a few more five gamers.”
Mazen Hesham also came through a five-game battle as the World No.13 got the better of compatriot Youssef Ibrahim, coming from behind to win 3-2.
Qatar QTerminals Classic 2021, Khalifa Tennis and Squash Cetre, Doha.
Third Round (Top Half):
Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 11-4, 11-13, 11-6, 11-8 (61m)
 Joel Makin (WAL) bt Patrick Rooney (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-8 (38m)
 Diego Elias (PER) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-2: 5-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-4 (73m)
Raphael Kandra (GER) bt  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 12-14, 11-3, 10-12, 11-5, 11-7 (58m)
Third Round (Bottom Half, October 20):
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Tom Richards (ENG)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) v  Mostafa Asal (EGY)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v Adrian Waller (ENG)
Baptiste Masotti (FRA) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
Quarter-Finals (Top Half, October 21):
Mazen Hesham (EGY) v  Joel Makin (WAL)
 Diego Elias (PER) v Raphael Kandra (GER)
Pictures courtesy of PSA