Ali Farag Holds Off Crowd-Favorite Joel Makin to Advance to Semifinals
September 26, 2021 By Jay Prince no Comments
[Egyptian Ali Farag (r) withstood Welshman Joel Makin’s unrelenting diving around the court to secure his place in the semifinals]
September 25, 2021
The evening session of the 2021 Oracle NetSuite Open presented by Pitchbook got off to a fiery start. In a contentious match, that stems from some bad blood between Egyptians Tarek Momen and Mostafa Asal following the 2021 World Tour Finals, Asal overcame the higher seeded Momen in straight games.
Asal, just 20-years-old, brings fabulous talent and an attacking playing style to the court everyday. Tonight was no different. In the cool San Francisco air, Asal found his length repeatedly, forcing Momen deep to the back court and then scrambling to the front for Asal’s attacking straight drop shots. Momen simply ran out of time as Asal secured the two games 11-8, 11-6.
Twenty-four minutes is all American Amanda Sobhy has had to put in on the Squash Engine Glass Court in her two matches—nine yesterday, and 15 tonight in taking out Tesni Evans of Wales.
As Sobhy mentioned afterwards, the court takes a dying length so well that it becomes unhittable for the player who is unfortunate enough to be chasing the ball. Sobhy used her length to devastating effect against Evans who swung at air several times through the two games, because the ball would not bounce.
When asked about the 2 of 3 games format, Sobhy said, “It makes it almost like a sprint. So tonight I just tried to cut time away from Tesni.”
After two points, it was already looking like tonight’s quarterfinal between Egyptian Ali Farag and Welshman Joel Makin would be extremely quick. The two points lasted two hits each, as Farag placed dead nicks in the front left corner to jump out to a two-love lead.
But Makin is one of the fastest movers on the tour, and he refuses to cave whether down by two points or 10. As the game wore on, Farag kept coming up short with his length because Makin cut them off before the ball could reach the back wall. That strategy served him well because he clawed his way back into the game and forced Farag to keep working for an 11-9 advantage.
In the second, Makin stayed even with Farag from the start, even if it required hurling himself across the court with head-long dives to the front and back corners to stay alive. The crowd loved it, and Makin held a lead at 8-7. A tight length deep to the back left corner, while breaking a string in the process, took Makin to 9-7. At 10-9 for Makin, a marathon point that ended in a stroke for Farag put the Egyptian back in control. Farag wrapped up the match in quick fashion from there, but Makin left the court a fan favorite for the effort he put in.
“The fact that Joel can put in the effort that he does, and then can win four straight points after that, speaks to his work ethic,” said Farag of Makin afterwards. “I enjoyed every single minute of that match.”
While England’s Sarah-Jane Perry overcame a determined Joshna Chinappa from India in two games, Perry had to do so by climbing back from early deficits in each game. Chinappa came out firing winners left and right to jump to 5-2 leads in each game, but Perry stuck with her game plan.
“She came out really strong in that first game,” said Perry afterwards. “I had to get my legs going and get my length.”
Once she did, Chinappa ran out of shots that would cause Perry enough trouble to build further momentum. The first game did go to overtime, which Perry won 12-10, but the second went from that 5-2 lead for Chinappa to 11-6 for Perry quickly.