Welsh wizard wins three tiebreaks against world No.1
By SEAN REUTHE
World No.33 Joel Makin earned the biggest victory of his career to date after he claimed a dramatic win over World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy in Weybridge to send the defending champion out of the Channel VAS Championships at St George’s Hill.
ElShorbagy was coming off the back of a title win at the U.S. Open last week, but the reigning World Champion was under pressure right from the off as Makin combined his typically strong retrieval skills with some fine touches at the front of the court.
After conceding the opener, ElShorbagy showed more of his usual aggression as he came back from 9-4 down in the second to force a tiebreak, but it spilled over as he received a conduct stroke against him after a disagreement with a refereeing decision, which handed the game to Makin.
That moment proved pivotal as Makin doubled his lead and he fought back from three game balls down in the third to complete the win by a 12-10, 13-11, 12-10 scoreline.
“It’s massive [to beat ElShorbagy],” said Makin. “I had a lot of belief and I knew exactly what I needed to do. I really had to be disciplined and I didn’t think about his form, just focused on the process.
“If I was going to get into the match, I had to switch it and keep getting the height. I had to be positive and my short balls were better today than they have been. I’ve been working on them for a long time, but they came together. They were three really tight games.”
Makin’s reward for his shock victory is a quarter-final meeting with Peru’s Diego Elias after the World No.13 got the better of 2015 runner-up Daryl Selby, winning 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 in 40 minutes.
“I’m very happy to be here again, I haven’t started the season that well, but now I’m feeling better on court,” Elias said.
“Daryl is a super strong player and I think I did a great job beating him in three because it’s always hard. We played here last year in the same round, I knew he wanted revenge but I think I played well.”
World No.8 Paul Coll booked his place in the quarter-finals courtesy of a 3-0 victory over former World No.1 James Willstrop, with the New Zealander avenging his Commonwealth Games defeat to the Englishman in the process.
Coll, who shot to prominence by winning this tournament in 2016, went down 3-0 to Willstrop in the final of the Commonwealth Games singles event in April.
But he turned the tide this time around as he came from behind to win a crucial second-game tie-break, before dominating the third to close out the win in straight games.
“[The Commonwealth Games] is always in my mind, it’s one of my ultimate goals in squash, but I’m trying to block that out for another four years and trying not to dwell on that too much because it can release some negative emotions,” said U.S. Open semi-finalist Coll.
“It’s always on my mind, but it’s not what I’m thinking about at all, maybe in four years when I need to light that fire again.”
Coll will play World No.4 Tarek Momen next in a repeat of the 2016 final, with Momen edging Australia’s Cameron Pilley in a tight three-game battle.
The Egyptian had a 9-3 lead on their head-to-head record coming into the match and, while he was able to extend that lead, he was made to work hard for it by the World No.23, who had only just made his return to action after going through ankle surgery over the summer.
“I must say that I’m very glad to be through, it was one of those where you have to be thankful that you got through because a lot of things were not working,” Momen said afterwards.
“I was trying hard to get into my own rhythm and I couldn’t. He was playing really well considering he had some time off in the summer to have an ankle operation. It’s really good that he’s playing this well with the preparation he’s had.”
The second round of the Channel VAS Championships continues tomorrow (Thursday October 18) and play starts at 17:30 (BST). All of the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
PSA Men’s 2018 Channel VAS Championships at St George’s Hill.
Second Round (Top Half):
Joel Makin (WAL) bt  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-0: 12-10, 13-11, 12-10 (61m)
 Diego Elias (PER) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (40m)
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 12-10, 11-4 (48m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-0: 12-10, 13-11, 12-10 (49m)
Bottom Half (To Be Played October 18):
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Greg Lobban (SCO)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v  Saurav Ghosal (IND)
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) v Tom Richards (ENG)
Declan James (ENG) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
Draw – Quarter-Finals (Top Half) To Be Played October 19:
Joel Makin (WAL) v  Diego Elias (PER)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA