QF:  Joel Makin (Wal) 3-2 Mohamed ElShorbagy (Egy) 10-12, 11-3, 11-6, 7-11, 13-11 (91m)
Joel Makin saves two match balls as he beats Mohamed ElShorbagy in another thriller
It’s 1.30 am as I’m starting to write the report. Well, we finished at nearly midnight. So four report to write, starting at past midnight… And I just try do justice to each player, winner or loser by remembering important moments, crucial rallies…
The feel I had when we started this one, is that for the first time of the week, Mohamed seemed settled. Well, there was finally an air of familiarity against Joel. Somehow, Mohamed didn’t play in Egypt for a while, whereas he plays against Joel pretty much all the time. He knew what to expect, and that was I guess reassuring in the way.
Incredible match would be I think a good way to describe it. Like the two previous ones, played in the spirit intended, clean, intense, entertaining. Those matches are the ones the players train for.
First game, nothing between them to be honest, high quality game, Joel making the rallies as long as possible, but Mohamed pretty happy with a slow pace, 12/10 on Mohamed’s second game ball, 20m, 2 errors each, 10 winners Mo, 8 Joel. Like I said, high quality.
Second and third, Joel is 7/2 up, but if in the second game, Mohamed is drained and let’s go of the game, 11/3, in the third, annoyed with a stroke against him who in his eyes “rewards the player who is playing a bad shot”, Mohamed fight back, and with winners and long battles, he claws back to 6/7.
The fourth is long. Mohamed is fighting for his life, and he is doing it pretty well. Joel, not giving him an inch, is responding “coup pour coup”, shot per shot, and until 6/6, there is not much between them. But the Egyptian won’t lose 3/1, not tonight. And in 16m, he forces a decider, 11/7.
Still far too many errors, 5, for 1 Joel, but it’s all to Joel’s credit to be fair. What the Welsh retrieved and counterattack tonight is nobody’s business.
The fifth is a heartbreaker for the Shorbagy camp. Taking the lead each their turn, it’s close the whole way, 1/1, 3/3, 4/4, 6/6, 7/7, 8/8, 9/9.
The rallies are surreal of intensity, of quality, of fighting spirit yet clean fighting. Match ball Mohamed, 10/9. A stroke, confirmed by VR. 10/10. Another match ball for the Egyptian, 11/10, rally from Hell, error forced out of him again, 11/11. Two sublime rallies, I seriously cannot breathe, the quality of those two is incredible after 90m game.
Finally, Joel gets his chance, 12/11.
A deep shot that Joel saves I still don’t know how, did he fly, was he ‘beam up Scotty’? The ball seems doubled, but it’s not says the video check and as it had a funny angle as it touched the front wall, Mohamed was forced to find the tin. 13/11 match to Joel.
A terribly gracious Mohamed, conceding the match as he saw the ball good on the screen. Joel was impressive tonight, I personally enjoy watching him immensely, he is sooo going to be a contender in every tournament from now on. Still, hat to Mohamed for displaying real class and elegance tonight.
report to follow
Mohamed: We train a lot in Bristol and Birmingham, we know each other’s game pretty well.
It’s nice to see him improved, and not much to say except he played really well, we pushed each other a lot but he played better than me today to be honest. But high quality match for sure.
“He clearly had a set tactic from the start and he was slow balling me, but I was trying to do the same back, so it became a bit of battle that way. The pace wasn’t necessarily fast all the time, bit in and out, but he’s just so hard to put away. I thought I had him hurt from 1-1 but he made it so tough, he’s so clever, his shutouts, his subtleties, his soft hands and stuff, it was just a good battle all the way through.
“I think the rallies were just so tough. It was going on and on and there’s very little space when you’re both moving well like that. You’re forcing those errors out of each other at the end of long rallies, so I thought the quality was generally pretty good – it was better than it has been this week anyway.
“You have to back yourself or you wouldn’t be in those kind of positions in the match. If you don’t take it when it’s on there or back yourself to run it and win the point, then you have no chance at this level. Mohamed is going to hit far too many winners so you have to back yourself and commit to it.
“I think he assumed my shot was not up on match ball, but it was definitely good. It was a full length dive again and getting it on the front wall but I forced the error and just nicked it. It doesn’t matter how you get across the line.
“The work we do all the time, I’ve done hours and hours when we haven’t had a tournament for the last four months. I’m ready for this and I want to have these matches, I should be able to back up from that.”
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 23, 2021