QF :  Mohamed ElShorbagy (Egy) 3-2  Joel Makin (Wal) 13-11, 11-3, 6-11, 9-11, 11-7 (158m*)
It’s 1.40am exactly. Starting the first men’s report…
What a night people. You put that storyline in a film and nobody, absolutely nobody will believe. First, we had to wait 78m to see the first men’s match on as like two days ago – again with Mohamed poor mite – the humidity made the court unplayable for about 2h.
So off we went to the Squash Complexe. Imagine the short turnover for that one.
Thumbs up for PSA SquashTV that managed to install their cameras in, and for the IEvents team to organise internet, court cleaning, AirCon, etc.
At 78m on the Scoreboard, Mohamed – who never played on that court this year – and Joel – who was very happy to leave it – started playing.
Although the traditional court could have privileged the Golden Tiger, the fact the AC was full blast made it a good court for Mohamed as well…
A 33m first game, with Joel making it very hard for the Egyptian, losing a lot of rallies at the start, but forcing Mohamed to play endless rallies. Mohamed up comfy 4/1, 7/2, 8/5. As it’s completely logical, the hard hitting and the high pace started to get into the Egyptian’s legs and Joel started collecting the dividends of the hard work, Mohamed making his two errors at that moment of the match.
Still 10/7, 3 game balls. Well that wasn’t going to be enough was it. At 10/9, what could have been a wining shot for Mohamed is transformed into a stroke for Joel – “I didn’t like your movement, Mr Shorbagy”.
Mohamed, whose been working on staying focused and calm no matter what goes on goes WILD!!! That was time well spent, as Mohamed smiled himself at the end of the match, bless him.
Joel, calm and ignoring the upset, keeps pushing hard, but cannot contain his opponent despite a ludicrous rally at 11/11, flying and retrieving the absolutely irretrievable.. It’s 13/11 for the Egyptian who roars at the ref that he should have won that game 20m ago!
The second, Joel doesn’t show up, even making errors (2 in that game, 1 in the previous). 11/3 in 8m.
But what a turn of events in the next two. Mohamed is just outplayed completely. 5/0, 7/3, 8/4, and two errors from Mohamed to finish the game 11/6 in 11m.
The fourth starts with Joel still in control, 5/2, 6/4, 8/4, 10/6 game ball. And that’s when Mohamed makes it a big push, threatening Joel till the end of the 14m game, 11/9.
Note: the Egyptian makes 6 errors in that one. Joel, none.
In the 5th, the former World Champion/World Number shows he was those two: killing the ball, he zooms up 6/1, 2/6. A no let that seems very harsh, it could have been 3/6, it now 7/2 as Joel remembers, that’s a big difference.
There will be a few calls that Joel is not happy with (probably with reason) in that fifth (Mohamed was not happy with him in the first two). 9/5, a huuuuge rally. 6/9. A tin from Mohamed. Getting dangerously close. 7/9.
A very harsh no let at that point in my opinion as we had Mohamed’s backside that seemed to be suddenly bigger bless him, it’s now 10/7, match ball, and it’s a deep crosscourt to finish, 11/7. The match was actually 80m, last game being 13m.
Off I rushed back to the Glass…
“The referee was the most relaxed and the was so important for him because we were both really edgy. Of course there were some decisions here and there, but overall he did the best job today. He had to stay calm and he did.
“Me and Joel train so much together in England and we know each other’s games very well. Even when I won the second 11-2 or 11-3, I knew he is one of the few people on tour who is going to fight. He’s not going to give it to me easy, against a lot of people it would have been done with the way I won the second because I dominated him completely.
“He kept coming back and he’s such a warrior. There are a lot of things in my tactics that I got completely wrong, I played at a very high pace without any accuracy. I wasn’t happy with that, but I haven’t played that intensity in such a long time.
“I’ve had problems with my health the last two or three years that hasn’t allowed me to play with that physicality. I don’t like giving excuses but I’m proud that I found a way to win the fifth, that was so important. That’s what I’m normally what I’m very good at.
“After the fourth I calmed down a lot, I did a lot of breathing and a lot of visualising to forget what had happened in the previous four games. I knew I needed a good start and then when I was 7-2 up he started coming back and I tried to protect that lead as much as possible.
“There was so much in the match today with changing venues and everything. I dealt with the situationat the beginning of the match better. I’ve had this situation before in China when it rained and we had to move to the other courts which was very confusing, but today I knew what to do.
“At the end of the day you could see the respect we have for each other, we killed each other. We argued with each other throughout the match, we trash talked each other, but afterwards we shook hands. We’re both the kinds of people who say that whatever happens on court and is said on court is done.
“I lost 15-13 in 30 minutes in the first game and lost the second game and it wasn’t going well. I just had to dig in and get on the board. I had to force myself up the court and got in front of him and was more aggressive, which helped.
“There were some awful decisions at the start of the fifth as well as him hitting some quick kills really well and he got to 6-1 before anything had really happened. I thought the decisions were bad but everyone’s going to say it’s because I lost.“They were bad decisions, there were two harsh no lets in the middle at 6-4 and the difference between 6-6 or 8-4 is huge, that’s not an excuse it’s just the reality of the situation.
“I fought back well and gave everything, I was flying around at the end and after a difficult situation I was happy how I pushed mentally. He was cleverer at the start of the fifth to be fair to him, he got a lead, was clever with his shutouts and exploited the situation with the referee and the change and stuff.
“I thought it was a good match considering everything going on, it was messy at times but we were both just fighting hard and going at each other and I enjoy that.
“I wanted to win it, but I love competing like that and it became a good fight, so I enjoyed it.”