6:57 pm
28 Nov 2023

Coll & Makin Survive Marathon Semis To Make Canary Wharf Classic Final

17 Mar 2023

New Zealand's Paul Coll and Welshman Joel Makin will meet in the final of the GillenMarkets Canary Wharf Classic after surviving marathon last four clashes against Egyptians Ali Farag and Mostafa Asal, respectively, in the PSA World Tour Gold event at the East Wintergarden in London.

In the night's opening match, world No.11 Makin took on world No.1 Asal. Having already overcome Peru's Diego Elias and Egypt's Tarek Momen earlier in the tournament, the Welshman came into their contest in good form and full of confidence.

The match was played in two distinct parts. The opening act saw the two players moving around each other well, in a high-paced first game. Makin was able to put his new shot-making ability to the test, and eventually came out on top 12-10, before then moving into a 7-2 lead in the second as well.

Asal showed why he is at the summit of the world rankings, pulling the game back in his favour, reversing the scoreline from the first to win it 12-10. The second act started midway through that game, with play becoming scrappy and fragmented, and that suited the world No.1, who went on to take the third game comfortably.

A change of ball brought about a change of fortunes for Makin in the fourth. The quicker pace allowed the Welshman to take control, and he sent the match into a decider with an 11-3 scoreline. There was then a pause in between the fourth and fifth, with a broken ball meaning a third new ball had to be warmed up.

Asal led 8-5, but from there, the world No.1 hit a number of errors, including putting the ball in the wrong position to allow Makin to earn strokes. The Welshman won six points in a row to secure a third upset of the week after 96 minutes and move into his maiden Canary Wharf final.

"I was obviously struggling and wasn't getting things right through the first half of the season and I've taken on some new advice and I've had to adapt and change," Makin said.

"My body has also come through at the right time, so I feel like things have come together as I would have wanted it to even when I wasn't feeling great physically, I was still working on my squash and I was still thinking. So I felt like I spent months where my squash was getting better and my body wasn't quite there.

"Then this week it's come together and I'm in a good place and I'm confident. I think a few people didn't think I was at that level or didn't have the ability to adapt to that. So I certainly proved those sort of people wrong and have shown that my squash can be as good as my physicality.

"I can beat World #1, #2, #3, #4 as I've done this week and at Black Ball. So I'm in a good place. I played Tarek in Black Ball, Tarek here, Diego here... no issues at all, obviously, so I hope people can grasp what was causing the problems today and what the issue was."

Makin will now take on New Zealand's Paul Coll for the title after the Kiwi came through a battle between two former world No.1s, beating Egypt's Ali Farag in an incredible showing of squash to end the night's action.

Despite still being on the return from a four-month layoff, Farag showed no signs of rustiness, and the pace was high in the opening game. The Kiwi scraped through it 11-9, with the second then proceeding to go deep into a tie-break. Both men had several game balls but it was Farag that eventually claimed a 19-17 victory after a 33 minutes.

Like the second game, the third and fourth also went to tie-breaks, as the quality and pace remained high throughout. The New Zealander, who is a two-time winner in Canary Wharf, was able to win the crucial points in both. He won the third game 12-10, before clinching victory after taking the fourth 13-11, to move through to another final in London after 98 minutes.

"I mean, it's great, man. I honestly, as tough as it was physically, I just loved every minute of it," the Kiwi said.

"My mum sent me a message saying 'So good to have Ali just to watch those sort of matches again.' He's such a clean, fair player. Hopefully the whole squash world enjoyed it. I definitely did and I think he did. It's just nice to be part of a match like that for sure.

"I don't think they [the crowd] were just behind me. I think they were behind both players, it's such a good atmosphere, some of those rallies were just insane and you could just see the crowd loving it, standing up at the end, clapping for Ali as he walked off.

"So it's just great to see the respect the crowd has for the players, both players. It's just fun to be a part of that and to play in front of such a crowd like that. I think that's why we had matches like that.

"It's [the final] going to be tough, he's [Joel Makin] playing, I think, almost career best form for him, which is great to see him climbing the ranks again. He's obviously taken out number 1 and 2 in the world so it's going to be a real test tomorrow, physically, going to have to back up. I'm excited for the challenge and I'm sure he's going to have plenty of support as well. So it should be a cracking final."