Hania El Hammamy and Diego Elias are the 2021 Manchester Open Champions after victories over British National Champions and Sarah-Jane Perry and Joel Makin. Find out how they did it below …
Flawless El Hammamy avenges Black Ball Open
No.1 seed Hania El Hammamy avenged her 2020 Black Ball final loss with a comprehensive win against No.2 seed Sarah-Jane Perry.
Speaking ahead of the match, El Hammamy made it clear that last year’s final, in which the Englishwoman came from two games down to shock the Egyptian in Cairo, was providing extra motivation ahead of today’s match. “I’m definitely looking for revenge… she beat me in my home crowd, so hopefully I can beat her in hers,” she said.
Both players, each a semi-finalist in last year’s edition, had come into the match in excellent form. 31-year-old Perry, having won the Manchester Nationals one week ago, had only dropped one game in this tournament, an 11-8 loss in the first game of her semi-final victory over Tesni Evans. 20-year-old El Hammamy, meanwhile, could boast a clean slate, having beaten Rachel Arnold, Tinne Gilis and Emily Whitlock without dropping a game.
Both players started the first game well, and the game was even at 4-4. El Hammamy, though, soon began to dominate. Perry struggled to deal with El Hammamy’s creativity and shot variety, with the Egyptian cruising to a 10-5 first-game victory.
Perry continued to struggle in the second, with El Hammamy more than sharp enough to punish the Englishwoman’s inaccuracies and taking a 9-3 lead. Perry, though, fought back, just as she had done in Cairo. The 31-year-old found the power and accuracy that had been lacking and reduced the deficit to 9-8. However, when presented with a golden opportunity to level by El Hammamy’s poor shot, Perry could only tin, giving El Hammamy two game balls. Although Perry saved one, she could not do the same with the second, as El Hammamy took the second game 11-9.
If Perry was to complete another historic comeback, it would need to be a special third game from the World No.6. Although she initially looked to be on her way to doing so, ultimately it proved to be too much to do, as World No. 7 El Hammamy took the Manchester Open with an 11-7 win in the third.
🗣 "I was so angry while playing, I was so eager and so hungry… there is a lot of stuff in my mind that I want to prove to myself."
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) August 13, 2021
After the match, El Hammamy said: “I’m so happy and relieved with that win. I think it was obvious that I was so angry in my play. I was so eager and hungry. That’s not because I wanted revenge against SJ but a lot of stuff in my mind that I want to prove to myself. It felt like I just wanted to prove to myself that this is what I’m capable of. I’m really glad I managed to perform like this and push, even when I was leading and SJ found her way back in the second game, I kept fighting and didn’t want to let it go easily.”
On who she is thinking of after the win: “Well definitely my parents. They go through a lot with me. I give them a hard time when I lose and they give me a hard time when I lose, too. They are the first people that come to mind when I win a tournament or have a positive week in my career. They’re watching now and I want to thank them for everything.
“It’s definitely really special to be back here and able to have a good performance after the World Championships. It was definitely a positive week for me before going to the British Open. The crowd was amazing, I actually struggle playing English people in their own country or Americans in their own country, but this year was amazing with crowds. It’s much better, with a good vibe, I was really happy here.”
Perry said: “It’s fantastic to have crowds back in the UK… congratulations to Hania, she played fantastic today. She had the bit between her teeth wanting revenge. I tried what I could today and kept fighting. I’ll be looking to improve next week at the British Open.”
Result:  Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-9, 11-7 (39m)
Incredible Elias ends British hopes
World No.8 Diego Elias produced a masterful display to end British hopes of a home winner, as the Peruvian beat Wales’ Joel Makin 3-0.
Elias went into the match in good form, both at this tournament and against today’s opponent. The No.3 seed beat No.1 seed Marwan ElShorbagy 3-0 in the semi-final and boasted a 4-1 PSA record against No.4 seed Makin, with the most recent encounter a 3-0 win against the Welshman in the 2020 Windy City Open.
Makin’s route to the final had been less serene than his opponent’s. The Golden Tiger’s semi and quarter-final matches both lasted for more than 80 minutes, and the 26-year-old went into the final having played 89 more minutes than Elias.
Elias took the first game, which was even and gritty, in dramatic fashion. Despite Makin having two game balls, Elias kept cool to flip the game, sealing the 22-minute melee 12-10. Worryingly for Makin, Elias appeared to be improving significantly as the game wore on.
Elias’ improved form continued in the second, with the Peruvian Puma finding his range impressively and storming into an 8-3 lead. Although Makin fought hard, with Elias showing his frustration a number of time, the Peruvian retained his composure to taking the second
Elias continued to show his best form in the third, avoiding risks and moving the ball around well, as Makin struggled to find a way into the match. Point after point fell to Elias, as Makin struggled to read his opponent.
Makin did manage to make some headway as the third went on and a hint of a comeback was on the horizon as he pulled the score back to 8-5. Elias, however, was in no mood for a fourth game, finishing the championship with another 11-6.
🗣 "This is going to give me a lot of confidence."
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) August 13, 2021
Speaking after the match, Elias said: “I’m really happy with this tournament, I think it’s going to give me a lot of confidence. I was struggling with injuries, I had a problem in my hip at the start of the year. I’m just really happy to be back playing here.
“I want to thank everyone who helped me get back to playing like this. First of all my dad, who was with me when I couldn’t even walk after the last tournament of last year. He was with me for two months just watching TV and trying to do little thing with my hip. All the people who helped me in Florida, too. My fitness coach and physio. I also want to thank Jonathon [Power, his coach] who’s been helping me a lot with my game. Those are the most important people right now in my squash and I want to thank them for being there.
“I also want to thank everyone for coming. It was my first time playing in Manchester and I’m really happy to be here, my first first win on SQUASHTV so I’m happy. [I want to thank] my sponsors who have been with me no matter what, for so many years. Also my family who are always supporting me. Thanks too, to all the PSA team. They did an amazing job this week. Thanks everyone.
“It’s the first time in a while that I’ve played four matches in a row in a tournament. My body’s a bit tired but I still have three or four days to recover. I can’t imagine how Joel feels after ten days of two hours a day of matches. It was very impressive what he did today, he ran until the last point and I want to congratulate him. I think [the British Open] next week is going to be good and I look forward to it.”
Reflecting on the match, Makin said: “Overall I’ve had a great two weeks. I’ve enjoyed it, this week was good, I got through a couple of tight matches, a couple of 3-2s which were really tough back to back. Diego was quality today, he was working me, he was out-positioning me to be fair. I left it all out there and couldn’t have done any more. I thought I was trying to play tactically right but I didn’t quite get it right.”
Result:  Diego Elias (PER) bt  Joel Makin (WAL) 3-0: 12-10, 11-6, 11-6 (59m)