Joel makes Manchester Open Final
Karakal star Joel Makin made his second Manchester final in a week by beating World No.22 Youssef Ibrahim in a brutal, 81-minute 3-2 (7-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-6, 12-10) thriller.
Both players are known to have incredible stamina, so it came as no surprise that the match was a brutal affair from the start, with Joel taking the first game 11-6, after 17 minutes of high-tempo squash.
The second game was equally tough, with Joel and Youssef dropping the pace of their hitting as rallies continued to go long, but it was the Egyptian who managed to pull clear and level the match after 19 energy-sapping minutes.
Youssef managed to carry the momentum from the second game into the third, taking it 11-3 and establishing a 2-1 lead.
World No.10 Joel entered the semi-final match with a lot of squash under his belt, after claiming the British Nationals title less than a week ago; however, his determination and high level of fitness saw him start strongly in the fourth, smashing his way to an 11-4 win.
With the match level at 2-2 and everything on the line, the fifth game returned to the pattern of the first two, with long, exhausting rallies and every point bitterly contested. However, after defending two match balls at 8-10 down Joel, showing unbelievable grit, managed to turn the match in his favour to take the game 12-10 and secure his place in the final.
In his post-match interview Joel explained “That was tough. He was hitting stuff from everywhere. I don’t know how many times I’m going to come here and say it. There was a patch in the fifth where there was not much I could do, he was diving across and hitting backhand cross-court nicks, backhand drops, they were all going in and then four went down in a row at the end. You keep trying to force him behind you and make some errors."
“[The referees] got two decisions wrong. Generally the decisions were fine, I just felt they got those wrong. I thought that would have given me a bit of a lead but he came back strong, put a few balls away and it was tight. I don’t feel like I’ve been playing that well. I thought I was doing a bit better there, but again everyone seems to be flying around at the moment, so as long as I’m getting wins I’m happy with it.”
Talking of his final opponent, Diego Elias of Peru, Joel said: “He’s got through well. I’d like to think I’ll come back from [the heavy schedule]. The last two days have been tough for sure, but I want to make sure I get a bit of biking and physio done and hydrate to go again."
Result:  Joel Makin () bt Youssef Ibrahim () 3-2: 11-6, 7-11, 3-11, 11-4, 12-10 (81m)