10:51 pm
19 Jun 2024

Makin Extends Giantkilling British Open Run To End 24-Year Welsh Wait

7 Jun 2024

Birmingham-based Joel Makin has become the first Welshman since 2000 to reach the semi-finals of the historic British Open after a stunning victory over world No.3 Diego Elias in front of a partisan crowd at the Birmingham Rep Theatre.

Before this week Makin hadn't recorded a single win at the prestigious event, but in his home town of Birmingham he produced one of his finest ever displays to complete an 11-9, 11-9, 4-11, 11-8 triumph over the recently-crowned World Champion from Peru.

Makin was the first man from Wales since Alex Gough in 2002 to compete in the quarter-finals, but he will now go one better and end Wales' wait for a men's semi-finalist since David Evans won the tournament 24 years ago.

"It's absolutely massive, I felt like I could do that today," said Makin.

"I knew I could upset him a bit, I know he's an unbelievable squash player, but there was space on there and if my lines were good and I was gripping the ball down the side walls then I know I have a chance against anyone. I'm really happy with how I executed that.

"I've had issues this year, but I'm feeling good and I'm in a good place. There's two big matches left now for a big title. It's anyone's now and there are going to be some big matches."

Makin will take on defending champion Ali Farag for a place in the title decider after the Egyptian beat compatriot Mazen Hesham 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 in 37 minutes.

The world No.1 has had a suspected fractured nose to contend with since injuring it in his second round match with Omar Mosaad, but it was Hesham who struggled with injury today, requiring extensive treatment on his shins from his physio between games.

"I could see that he was struggling with something, and I hope it isn't bad because we have the World Tour finals just around the corner, but I still had to play very well," Farag said.

"Even a Mazen on one leg can come up with some outrageous shots, and I wasn't feeling great either because of Nour's [El Tayeb, Farag's wife] match and the hype and the nerves. As soon as her match was over, the hype was all gone and I had to rejuvenate myself again."

World No.7 El Tayeb - kept the prospects of a husband and wife winner alive after she produced a magnificent comeback from 2/0 down to beat compatriot Salma Hany.

El Tayeb was all at sea after a superb start from Hany, but showed impressive resilience to overturn the deficit, winning 7-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-9 in 73 minutes. El Tayeb will line up in her first Platinum-level semi-final since October 2022 and her first British Open semi-final since the 2019 event.

"I keep thinking of myself as one of the best four players, but I haven't proven that in the last two of three years since I came back," El Tayeb said.

"I've been waiting for a good performance and a semi-final, so for it to happen at this tournament in front of this amazing crowd in front of this amazing venue is unreal. I haven't been in this situation recently, so it's nice to get a win like that in the later stages of my career."

Reigning champion Nour El Sherbini stands between El Tayeb and a place in the final after she defeated US No.1 Olivia Weaver in four games.

Weaver took El Sherbini to five at last month's PSA World Championships and threatened the world No.1 after coming back to take the third game. However, El Sherbini regrouped and the four-time British Open champion completed an 11-3, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5 win.

"I love playing here, the venue is amazing and the crowd is amazing," said El Sherbini.

"It's something different and I also have really good memories here from the British Open, so I love coming and playing here, so hopefully it goes well this week. Nour is my lifelong friend, we have always had amazing battles since the juniors and I'm looking forward to this one."