6:26 pm
19 May 2024

Top Seeds Exit As Makin & Dessouky Make Black Ball Semis

24 Mar 2021

After sensational upsets over the world's top two players in the quarter-finals of the CIB PSA Black Ball Open, world No.9 Joel Makin and defending champion Fares Dessouky secured surprise slots in the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour Platinum event at the Black Ball Sporting Club in Cairo.

Welshman Makin came back from two match balls down in a captivating 91-minute battle against world No.2 Mohamed Elshorbagy, the second seed having recovered from 2/1 down to force a decider.

Meanwhile, Dessouky backed up December's Black Ball Open final victory over Ali Farag by producing a mesmerising comeback from 2/1 down to beat the world No.1 11-8, 6-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-4.

Elshorbagy twice held a match ball advantage in the fifth game, but the tenacious Makin dug in his heels and converted his first match ball after a tin from the Egyptian at the front of the court to reach the last four of a PSA World Tour Platinum event for the second time.

"You know what it's going to be like with Mohamed, the intensity is there from the start," said Makin.

"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, it was a bit in and out, but he's just so hard to put away. I thought I had him hurt from one-all 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.

"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 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."

Farag looked in control of the other match when he walked off court after the third game. But Dessouky - who came back from two games down to clinch victory in December's Black Ball finale - clawed back three match balls in the fourth to draw level and looked unbeatable in the decider as he rattled off winner after winner to seal his place in the semi-finals.

This tournament will be the first Platinum event not to feature either Elshorbagy or Farag in the last four since the 2017 El Gouna International.

"It was a very tough match, Ali today was unbeatable," Dessouky said.

"I had to dig really deep to find the turning point to win the match. I found it at 10-7, match ball down, and I'm really glad that I found it. He was getting everything back, I was a bit disappointed on court that he was getting everything and it was hard to beat him and to win a point against him. All credit to him, today I had to take advantage from this match, I was solid again and was able to grab the win."

Makin will now look to take out Mohamed's younger brother as world No.6 Marwan Elshorbagy bids to reach his maiden Platinum final.

Elshorbagy junior came through an absorbing 96-minute clash with New Zealand's world No.4 Paul Coll in one of the matches of the season so far. It was an extremely high quality affair, with the Egyptian closing out an 10-12, 11-7, 11-9, 3-11, 11-9 win to reach his second Platinum semi of the season.

"It was a tough match and I just hoped everyone enjoyed it," said Elshorbagy.

"I gave it more than 100% today and Paul gave it more than 100%. It's always tough playing Paul, especially in those conditions, I think we gave it everything. I stayed calm, I learnt my lesson and that's why I won the match."

Meanwhile, Dessouky will go up against World Champion Tarek Momen for a place in the final after the world No.3 overcame Egypt's Zahed Salem, who was appearing in his first Platinum quarter-final. Momen had a slight dip in the third game against a resilient opponent, but he held firm to close out the victory in the fourth, winning 12-10, 15-13, 9-11, 11-7.

"I don't think it was my best performance of the tournament, there were far too many errors, and he made a few errors which helped me a bit," Momen said.

"I would've loved to have played better today, but it's ok, I'm allowed to have a performance that is not 100%. Still, I managed to play the important points well. Both the first two games went to the tie-break and I managed to close them out, so that was a positive thing."