FINALS : Gina dethrones Tayeb, Makin makes it two

Joel Makin and Gina Kennedy are the 2024 Manchester Open Champions after victories over Greg Lobban and Nour El Tayeb at the National Squash Centre …

Manchester Open 2024: Day FIVE, FINALS

[2] Gina Kennedy (Eng) 3-1 [1] Nour El Tayeb (Egy)   11-9, 5-11, 11-7, 11-1 (48m)

[2] Joel Makin (Wal) 3-0 [7] Greg Lobban (Sco)  11-5, 13-11, 12-10 (56m)


Makin wins all-British final for second title

[2] Joel Makin (Wal) 3-0 [7] Greg Lobban (Sco) 11-5, 13-11, 12-10 (56m)

World No.10 Joel Makin won his first title of the 2023/24 season after defeating Greg Lobban in straight games at the Manchester Open.

Makin, the second  seed at the PSA World Tour Silver event, has been near-faultless all week long, and continued this impressive form to claim his second career title at the Manchester Open, defeating Scotland’s Lobban by an 11-5, 13-11, 12-10 scoreline.

As has become custom in recent times, Makin settled into his work in methodical fashion, elongating the rallies and forcing Lobban into some tough movements in the back two corners. The World No.20 had endured back-to-back five-gamers on his way to the title decider, and the plan from Makin to force him deep into the back two corners reaped its rewards, with the Welshman moving into a one-game lead after 14 minutes.

A 23-minute second game followed, with Lobban fighting through some serious physical discomfort to force a tie-break with a string of particularly impressive attacking squash. However, it was Makin who turned up the pressure in the dying moments of the second game to double his advantage in the match.

Lobban continued to go stride for stride with Makin early in the third, opening up a two-point buffer for the first time in the match at 7-5 up. With two-game balls in hand, it looked like Lobban would send the match to a fourth game, but Makin once again found his very best squash to reel off five consecutive points and win the title after 56 minutes of action.

“I thought I played the big points well today. In the second game there were a few tight exchanges and I came out on top. Fair play to Greg  – he’s playing a good level now and looks like he’s loving his squash. In the middle of the third game when he hit a crosscourt nick off the back wall on the forehand I was thinking he’s starting to put a few balls away and making things difficult. I had to get my lines back, get the volley back and tidy things up. I was happy to get through that.

“It’s great to have some Welsh support here. I do feel like I’m playing at home, to be honest. I’ve played for years here and this is my fifth Manchester Open. I’ve always had a good record here, not sure why but I always enjoy it. It’s been good fun and thanks to everyone for coming down this week, it’s been busy crowds all week and getting behind the players. I’ve had a great time.

“As well as getting a win it’s nice to get four, hard matches on a glass court with the crowd and playing those matches properly. That’s about as good training as you can get, you need to go back and do some work but this is the perfect preparation. I’ve got Tarek Momen in the first round at the Rep Theatre which will be good fun and the atmosphere will be good as well.”

Gina dethrones Tayeb to become first British women’s champion

[2] Gina Kennedy (Eng) 3-1 [1] Nour El Tayeb (Egy) 11-9, 5-11, 11-7, 11-1 (48m)

England No.1 Georgina Kennedy captured the Manchester Open 2024 title after defeating two-time champion Nour El Tayeb in a devastating four game performance.

Cheered on by a fervent crowd at the National Squash Centre, Kennedy came flying out of the blocks, playing to her trademark intensity and choosing her moments to attack wisely. Despite El Tayeb saving three game balls, the World No.7 held on to take the opening game.

The match swung back in top seed El Tayeb’s favour in the second, with the Egyptian reading Kennedy’s attacks extremely well, retrieving well and forcing the Englishwoman’s margins to get extremely narrow – leading to a few unforced errors from Kennedy. After racing into a 5-1 lead, it was Tayeb who went on to level the match.

Kennedy regained her accuracy in a third game which she took by an 11-7 scoreline, starting to take away the middle of the court from El Tayeb and hitting strong lines down both wings. This physical pressure continued to tell early in the fourth, with Kennedy taking a crucial 5-1 lead.

From there, the 27-year-old moved strength to strength, hitting her targets to devastating effect and setting up match ball after 48 minutes of action. The No.2 seed sealed victory at the first time of asking with a thumping cross-court winner, winning her second title of the PSA World Tour season, and becoming the first UK player to list the women’s Manchester Open title.

“It’s amazing! I’m so happy and to play Nour in a final it is something you dream of growing up. I heard Laura Massaro say that she’s been on Tour for 17 years and what she’s achieved is amazing. To play her in the final is an honour and to scalp her is a proud achievement of mine.

“She’s incredible and all respect to her and I say it every time but everything I do I owe to my coach Ben. It’s not been easy and there’s a lot of stuff that goes on outside the squash court and he’s stuck by me – he’s like family to me.

“To win for him and my mum and aunty are here as well as my dad watching nervously at home. Thank you to everyone and I’m really happy.

“It’s amazing, and reaching the World Tour Finals is a massive goal of mine from the start of the season. I knew if I did well I would solidify that.

“Playing in the UK is nice – I can drive home, spend the week at home and get ready coming down from this. I’m looking forward to playing in front of another home crowd in Birmingham. It’s an amazing venue there and I’ve got such good memories from Birmingham and it treats me well. I’m really looking forward to next week.”