5:30 am
21 Jan 2019

Welshman Makin Downs Rodriguez In Doha Thriller

29 Oct 2018

Unseeded Joel Makin, the 24-year-old Welshman making his debut in the Qatar Classic, shocked Colombian world No.6 Miguel Angel Rodriguez in a thrilling 106-minute encounter to reach the last 16 round of the 2018 PSA World Tour Platinum event in its 25th year in Doha. It was a dramatic day of action that also saw world No.2 Ali Farag and world No.10 Karim Abdel Gawad both narrowly escape second round defeats.

Makin pulled off one of the biggest wins of his career last week at the Channel VAS Championship in England against world No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy - and proved that result was no fluke as he out-hustled and out-played the tenacious Rodriguez, winner of the 2018 British Open, to secure his place in the third round of a major PSA event for only the second time in his career courtesy of an 11-4, 6-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-9 triumph.

The world No.33 from Pembrokeshire will now face Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet for a place in the quarter-finals and the rising star says he is hungry to capitalise on the opportunity and go one step further than his round sixteen finish at the US Open earlier this month.

"My first round match yesterday was tough but I felt like I got the win last week out of my system in that match and felt like I played much better today," said Makin.

"I knew I had to be so patient today because if you open the court up too soon against Miguel he has such quick reactions and can hurt you from anywhere.

"I was just trying to slow the ball down and take the pace out of the game. I had to be disciplined, and maybe it was a bit boring at the end, but it was all about controlling the pace when I wanted it, not when he decided it.

"I feel like I'm getting good wins and getting close to reaching the latter stages of tournaments at the moment. Today was a big ranking win for me and one that could mean me going into the last eight, so I will do what I can to try and make that happen in a few days because I want to be competing day in day out with the top guys."

Castagnet secured his third round spot with a 3/0 win over Australia's Cameron Pilley while 2016 tournament winner and former world No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad used his get out of jail free card to come from two games down to beat Malaysia's former World Junior Champion Eain Yow Ng 3/2.

Ng had beaten local favourite Abdulla Al Tamimi in the first round and picked up where he left off as he produced squash of the highest calibre in the opening games to leave Gawad, the world No.10 from Giza, searching for a way to stop the onslaught - which he duly found to turn the match upside down and keep alive his hopes of winning the title for the second time in his career.

"You do not become Junior World Champion if you are not very good, strong and skilful and he made it a very tough battle for me today," said Gawad.

"I didn't start positive, I was weak. But I used my experience today to be tough on court and I'm very relieved to be into the next round - where I know I have to play better."

Gawad will now go up against England's Declan James after the Nottingham-based player beat Karim Ali Fathi in straight games while tournament second seed Ali Farag will face India's Saurav Ghosal after coming through a thrilling battle with compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar in what was a match of the season contender.

For long spells Farag was powerless to stop the attacking barrage coming from the racket of Abouelghar but his persistence and grit paid off in the crucial fifth game when, tied at 9-9, he managed to sneak two decisive rallies to escape from the clutches of defeat.

"I don't know how I won that, I think I just got lucky at the end," said Farag after the first Tour win over his compatriot.

"He's such a dangerous player, he's so attacking, so dangerous, so skilful. It was a very hard match mentally and physically, so I'm just really glad to win. There are no easy matches at this level so I just have to fully focus on my recovery now and come back and give it my best tomorrow."