Sunday, February 25, 2024

Mazen Hesham gains first win over Joel Makin to reach Malaysian Open final against Tarek Momen

Nele Gilis goes into ‘survival mode’ to reach final as top seed Olivia Fiechter halts Tesni Evans  
By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor) and JONATHAN SMITH (PSA) in Kuala Lumpur

Egypt’s No.3 seed Mazen Hesham recorded a first Tour victory over Welsh No.2 seed Joel Makin to progress to the final of the Malaysian Open, where he will meet compatriot and top seed Tarek Momen, who eased past Swiss No.6 seed Nicolas Mueller.

In the women’s semi-finals, top seed Olivia Fiechter came back from one game down to beat Welsh No.3 seed Tesni Evans, while Belgian No.2 seed Nele Gilis said she needed to enter “survival mode” to end home hopes by beating Malaysian No.8 seed Rachel Arnold.

Hesham went into his semi-final with Makin having steamrolled his two previous opponents, Faraz Khan and Patrick Rooney, and was in excellent form again today as he recorded a first win in four meetings against the World No.11.

The Egyptian was dominant throughout as he went 2-0 up after 11-7 and 11-9 wins, before Makin, who appeared to be carrying an injury, clawed back the third game 13-11.

That proved the Welshman’s final act of resistance, though, with Hesham quickly wrapping up the match with an 11-3 win in the fourth game.

“I haven’t been beating some of the top guys for a long time now and with injuries it has been very stop-start for me so I couldn’t get momentum, so I was really happy I could play last week fine and this week as well,” Hesham said afterwards.

Tarek Momen keeps his eye on the ball against Nicolas Mueller

Momen, too, was in top form as he guaranteed the event would have its first Egyptian winner since 2014 by ruthlessly dispatching Mueller, who had upset No.4 seed Marwan ElShorbagy in the last round, 3-0 in just 27 minutes.

“I’m very happy with the way I played today, there were so many challenges. Playing after 10:30pm, it’s been a long day, coming up against a tough opponent in Nicky,” Momen said.

Olivia Fiechter (left) and Tesni Evans

Fiechter, Momen’s top seed counterpart in the women’s draw, had a less comfortable time in her semi-final as she battled back to beat Evans.

The Welshwoman has been in great form of late and carried that into the opening game, which she took 11-7 on the back of impressive accuracy into space.

Fiechter responded calmly, though, with the 27-year-old constructing her rallies well as she moved 2-1 ahead with 11-7 and 11-3 victories, before ending the clash with an 11-7 win in a scrappy fourth game.

“I’m really proud to get through that. Tesni has been playing some incredible squash in the last few months; she’s in great form and I knew I would have to play some of my best squash to get past her,” Fiechter said.

Nele Gilis (right) in action against Rachel Arnold

Fiechter’s opponent in tomorrow’s final, Belgian World No.14 Gilis, also had to come through a tough encounter as she ended home hopes with a 3-2 win over World No.26 Arnold to reach her third final this season.

Arnold, spurred on by the home crowd, started the first game in great style, firing the ball in short as she edged the opener 12-10.

Gilis hit back in the perfect style as she recorded a brutal 11-0 win in game two and then moved ahead with an 11-9 win in game three.

Arnold dug in well to force a fifth game with 11-7 victory in the fourth, but fell away to the superb energy of Gilis in the decider, with the Belgian reaching the final with an 11-6 win.

Afterwards, Gilis said: “Rachel was on fire today. I knew she would be with the home crowd and I guess it fired her up and it made me a bit anxious. She made my life very difficult and I just went into survival mode and I’m just happy to scrape that one.”

The finals of the Malaysian Open Squash Championships will be played tomorrow, 26th November, from 17:00 (GMT+8). All the action from the National Squash Centre in Kuala Lumpur will be shown live on SQUASHTV.

Malaysian Open Squash Championships, Nicol David Arena, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Men’s Semi-Finals:
[1] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [6] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-4 (27m)
[3] Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt [2] Joel Makin (WAL) 3-1: 11-7, 11-9, 11-13, 11-3 (64m)

Men’s Final:
[1] Tarek Momen (EGY) v [3] Mazen Hesham (EGY)

Women’s Semi-Finals:
[1] Olivia Fiechter (USA) bt [3] Tesni Evans (WAL) 3-1: 7-11, 11-7, 11-1, 11-7 (47m)
[2] Nele Gilis (BEL) bt [8] Rachel Arnold (MAS) 3-2: 10-12, 11-0, 11-9, 7-11, 11-6 (63m)

Women’s Final:
[1] Olivia Fiechter (USA) v [2] Nele Gilis (BEL)

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour


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