8:19 am
17 Jun 2024

Lobban Downs Dessouky To Make Maiden World Tour Final At Manchester Open

26 May 2024

Scotland's world No.20 Greg Lobban reached his first ever PSA World Tour final after holding off higher-seeded Fares Dessouky in a feisty five-game encounter at the Manchester Open.

Lobban, who was cheered on by a strong Scottish contingent at the National Squash Centre, managed to remain the cooler of the two players in a match that was littered with interference issues in the middle of the court.

Despite the newly-crowned Scottish champion taking a two-game lead, world No.18 Dessouky came roaring back into the contest, moving away at the crucial late stages of the third and fourth games to force a deciding game. However, from there it was Lobban who came out on top, sealing victory through an 11-8 scoreline after 87 minutes of stop-start action.

"I can't imagine the people at home stayed tuned into that one because it was less about the squash and more about the physicality out there," Lobban said after the match. 'It's a real shame when it gets like that. When it gets like that, it's not nice for anyone to watch; it's certainly not nice to play, but the crowd seemed to be getting into it - maybe not for the right reasons - but I won the last point, and that's what matters.

"I had to stay really physically and emotionally disciplined today. I was on the verge sometimes, but managed to just close it out."

Lobban's opponent in the event's first ever all-British final will be No.2 seed Joel Makin after the Welshman put on a faultless performance to negate the attacking threats of the dangerous Egyptian Youssef Ibrahim in three games.

Makin, who hit just three errors throughout the whole encounter, took the first game by an 11-6 scoreline, before producing his best squash in the pressure moments of the match, taking two subsequent tie-breaks to progress to the final.

Following his victory, Makin said: "I don't know what has changed. I have been struggling for a long time and I arrived here and I was playing George [Parker] in my first round, and I had actually lost to him last week. I came this week and my body was feeling really good, so I'm really grateful, and I hope it stays this way now."

Meanwhile, the top two seeds in the women's draw, Nour El Tayeb and Georgina Kennedy, will square off for the PSA World Tour Silver level title.

Home favourite Kennedy advanced to her third final of the 2023/24 season after an impressive victory over Egypt's Salma Hany, taking the match by an 11-7, 9-11, 12-10, 11-7 scoreline.

World No.7 Kennedy, who lost their last meeting at the Tournament of Champions in five games, delivered a relentless performance to get her revenge to the delight of the Manchester crowd.

After the match Kennedy said: "If I go toe-to-toe with Salma on the skills stuff, she's always going to pick me off, so I just really tried to get the ball away from her, running away from her all the time and the use that quick counter-drop when I could. I had that belief that I could take it today, so I'm just happy that it came off."

In the other women's match, world No.6 El Tayeb continued her quest for a third title at the Manchester Open after defeating No.3 seed and close friend Rowan Elaraby in straight games.

Despite the Egyptian pair having coached one another throughout the event to this stage, there was no let-up from El Tayeb, with the top seed racing to victory after just 26 minutes on court.

"I told you yesterday, we are very close friends, so sometimes I knew what she was thinking," said El Tayeb later. "As you can see from the head-to-head, it is very close between us, because I don't like her style of play, but luckily today everything went according to plan.

"I actually looked at her [between games] to try and see what she was thinking. It's not every day you play a friend, and we've only been very close friends over the last couple of years, and we haven't really played since then."