Friday, June 21, 2024

Qatar Squash Classic: Joel Makin advances in tough outing

Doha — The way the seedings and draws are done for Platinum events, where only the top eight are seeded, they open up for very interesting second round encounters. Some of the matches played on Monday could well been the final of a top-tier event itself – Paul Coll v Joel Makin and Marwan ElShorbagy v Karim Abdel Gawad.

Both matches also produced upsets of the day, as the event’s fourth and fifth seed Paul Coll and Marwan Elshorbagy both crashed out in the second round.

In the longest match of the day, Makin and Coll were engaged in very long rallies and the 93-minutes duration over four games speaks volumes. Makin was 2-1 up and 10-8 in the fourth, but it wasn’t until six points later before he claimed the win.

Makin said: “I was actually very confident about today. I knew if I was aggressive with my ball control and attack to the front of the court, I could separate myself a little bit. But you know what Paul is like, he’s such a good player and is relentless with his process.”

The Makin-Coll match was a stark contrast with what was going on over at the side courts as Mazen Hesham and Miquel Rodriguez played an entertaining three games filled with much shorter rallies and some amazing shot-making from both. While Hesham won in three, they were all close and could’ve gone either way.

Top seed Ali Farag cleared a potentially tricky opening match as he won in straight games against compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar. Cruising through the first two games in his usual stride, Farag never allowed Abouelghar to settle in. Despite a resurgence in the third, Farag closed it out to earn his place against another Egyptian Fares Dessouky in the next round. Dessouky had beaten Karim Elhammamy in a brutal five-setter which was filled with traffic issues and refereeing decision.

“It’s very tough to play against Abouelghar. Not just because he’s a great friend, which makes it psychologically even harder, but he’s also a brilliant squash player. He’s got everything in the book and very skillful with the racket. Given the way the match unfolded, I couldn’t have asked for a better way”, Farag said.

England’s Mohamed ElShorbagy also beat compatriot Charlie Lee

In the last match of the side courts, ElShorbagy and Gawad played to a full gallery. The match did not disappoint and the crowd was treated to a feast. While Gawad beating Shorbagy Jr is an upset on paper, the result surely isn’t as surprising to most.

In the women’s third round, top seed Nouran Gohar won in straight games against USA’s Olivier Fiechter. The pace of the Egyptian’s shots was the major hurdle for the American.

When asked how she felt coming into this event, Gohar said: “It’s not often you have back-to-back Platinum events with only five days in between. I was very disappointed to lose the final in Paris and had to regroup very fast. I’m very happy to be back in Qatar, one of the best tournament organisations there is. I feel very comfortable here and it definitely helps how we perform on court.”

American Amanda Sobhy was stretched by 16-year old Amina Orfi to four games, after which she paid homage to the World Junior Champion.

Amanda Sobhy

“She’s very strong for a 16-year old. It’s incredible and I don’t know what they’re doing in Egypt to produce people like that. She’ll definitely be up there in no time and I didn’t want today to be the first loss to a 16-year old! I made sure that when it counted, I close it out and I’m glad I did.”

In the other two women’s matches, England’s Georgina Kennedy and Hania El Hammamy both won in straight games.


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